Illustration

Malin Bergström

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Malin Bergström is an Swedish-based artist and illus­tra­tor. She cre­ates col­lages that sug­gest they might run par­al­lel with the nat­ur­al world, but not inter­sect.

With one series of col­lages, Malin titles them Pure­ly Coin­ci­den­tal, with the expla­na­tion, “Any resem­blance to any oth­er world, known or unknown, is pure­ly coin­ci­den­tal”. That idea stayed with me as I viewed her work. While Malin sets up sys­tems, and mim­ics shapes and tex­tures found in the nat­ur­al world, her col­lages nev­er quite lit­er­al­ly resem­ble any­thing I know. 

All images via her web­site.

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Artist

Morgan Blair

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The work of Brook­lyn-based illus­tra­tor Mor­gan Blair is inspired by motion graph­ics on VHS tapes from the 80’s and 90’s (odd­ly spe­cif­ic, but I know exact­ly what she speaks of), Lisa Frank, and Tetris. 

To fur­ther her work with nos­tal­gia (at least my nos­tal­gia), she also imple­ments holo­grams into her work. I feel like I’m back in 1992, at the movie rental sec­tion of the IGA gro­cery store, wait­ing for my mom to fin­ish her shop­ping. I love it.

Mor­gan also does work on walls and murals. Below is one that she paint­ed in a pri­vate res­i­dence in New York City. 

All images via her web­site.

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Illustration

Toska by Lizzy Stewart

I always knew that Lizzy Stew­art could draw. But, when she was kind enough to send me one of her lat­est endeav­ors, Tos­ka, I real­ly got to see her draw­ing prowess first hand, not just on the inter­webs. Her beau­ti­ful style has been trans­lat­ed into a black and white litho print­ed, 20 page book that is sta­ple bound. 

Lizzy com­plet­ed the illus­tra­tions for Tos­ka after two weeks in Jan­u­ary spent with inhu­man activ­i­ty. The con­cept for the book is based on a quote by Vladimir Nabokov:

No sin­gle word in Eng­lish ren­ders all the shades of ‘Tos­ka’. At its deep­est and most painful, it is a sen­sa­tion of great spir­i­tu­al anguish often with­out any spe­cif­ic cause. At less mor­bid lev­els it is a dull ache of the soul, a long­ing with noth­ing to long for, a sick pin­ing, a vauge rest­less­ness, men­tal throes, yearn­ing. In par­tic­u­lar cas­es it may be the desire for some­thing, of some­thing spe­cif­ic, nos­tal­gia, love-sick­ness. At the low­est lev­els it grades into ennui, bore­dom.”

-Vladimir Nabokov

Lizzy start­ed her book off with this quote, and upon read­ing it real­ly set the tone for the entire thing. Look­ing at the images she had drawn, one does real­ly get the feel­ing of tos­ka. I spent some seri­ous time with this dur­ing a gray morn­ing, and the feel­ings con­veyed in Lizzy’s illus­tra­tions were some­thing that I could relate to. Iso­la­tion, mean­der­ing, con­tem­pla­tion — all what I gath­ered from this beau­ti­ful book. 

'Toska' by Lizzy Stewart (cover)

There was some seri­ous care tak­en into the con­struc­tion of this book. Heavy weight­ed paper and high print­ing qual­i­ty make this some­thing pre­cious. Below are some of my favorite spreads out of ‘Tos­ka’:

'Toska' by Lizzy Stewart (spread)

'Toska' by Lizzy Stewart (spread)

'Toska' by Lizzy Stewart (spread)

'Toska' by Lizzy Stewart (spread)

I found Lizzy’s work so relat­able that my orig­i­nal inten­tion with this entry was to take sort of my own form of tos­ka, but to jux­ta­pose her draw­ings with my urban neigh­bor­hood, match­ing pho­tos with images in the book. Unfor­tu­nate­ly it just couldn’t come togeth­er, but one image (of my sup­plies) is a take on a spread: 

'Toska' by Lizzy Stewart (spread)

My version of a spread out of 'Toska'

You can buy the book in Lizzy’s Etsy store. I would high­ly rec­om­mend you do this! 

Thanks, Lizzy! 

If you have a pub­li­ca­tion, book, etc., that you’d like me to review, email me! I’d love to talk.

Sculpture

Caitlin Ducey

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Rebec­ca intro­duced me to the work of Caitlin Ducey, and I’m real­ly tak­en by her explo­ration in the use of plas­tic straws in sculp­tur­al forms. Caitlin has used them to cre­ate work that is pleas­ing on many dif­fer­ent lev­els. She writes a bit about her series: 

These three sculp­tures rep­re­sent an explo­ration of mate­r­i­al, process, and pat­tern. They are made pri­mar­i­ly from plas­tic drink­ing straws. The abun­dance and acces­si­bil­i­ty of straws were ini­tial­ly attrac­tive to me, as well as how com­mon, yet dis­re­gard­ed they are in every­day life. The project evolved from this ini­tial curios­i­ty as well as an inter­est in the aes­thet­ic poten­tial they pos­sess. The straws were cut in half and then stacked in the frame. There is no glue or adhe­sive hold­ing the pieces togeth­er; they sim­ply rest on top of one anoth­er. As the frame is filled, the weight of the thou­sands of indi­vid­ual straws gives the pieces more sta­bil­i­ty, but they are still very frag­ile.

The tech­nique is a reflec­tion of old­er forms of art mak­ing. I like to think of it as pointil­list sculp­ture, as it is made up of many small parts that make a cohe­sive image togeth­er and it exhibits a sim­i­lar ten­sion of being per­ceived very dif­fer­ent­ly up close and at a dis­tance. It is also unde­ni­ably influ­enced by craft tra­di­tions such as quilt­ing, which uses pat­tern and brings togeth­er dif­fer­ent pieces to make a larg­er pat­tern, and weav­ing, which starts from one end and cre­ates a pat­tern in a lin­ear pro­gres­sion from one end to the oth­er. There is also a con­nec­tion in the obses­sive qual­i­ty of the work and the time required. 

All images via her web­site.

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Animation

Ryan Mauskopf and Professor Soap

This video from Ryan Mauskopf sat in my inbox for too long. I final­ly watched it the oth­er day and smiled the whole way through. The con­cept is sim­ple, but the char­ac­ters and music are so delight­ful and work so well togeth­er. I couldn’t stop watch­ing the spir­it quest jour­ney- a build­ing up to some­thing more grand. 

Ani­ma­tion and music both by Ryan.

Pro­fes­sor Soap — Spir­it Quest Jour­ney from Pro­fes­sor Soap on Vimeo.

Collage

Amber Kempthorn

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Amber Kempthorn’s work employs the use of myth­i­cal crea­tures and birds to con­vey a nar­ra­tive that is often times a quest, the begin­ning or end of it. Absurd sit­u­a­tions and char­ac­ters help to make their sto­ries believ­able and endear­ing.

I real­ly enjoy her care­ful­ly col­laged works, which use graphite, ink, pas­tel, and oth­er papers. The works, while huge are extreme­ly detailed in scope and con­struc­tion. Amber has clear­ly con­sid­ered each piece of her images, which range but can be as large as 60 inch­es in length! If you look close­ly, you can see that the paper comes off its sur­face a bit, giv­ing a nice and sub­tle three dimen­sion­al effect. 

All images via her web­site.

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Illustration

Wayne White

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Con­tin­u­ing a bit of typog­ra­phy on Brown Paper Bag today, I am real­ly enjoy­ing the word paint­ings of Wayne White. Wayne is not new to the art scene, as he’s had a fair­ly long career, start­ing out as an illus­tra­tor in New York City and lat­er becom­ing a design­er for Pee Wee’s Play­house. After mov­ing to Los Ange­les, he con­tin­ued to design sets for TV shows. 

More recent­ly in his work, he has cre­at­ed Word Paint­ings that are, accord­ing to his web­site, “…world paint­ings fea­tur­ing over­sized, three-dimen­sion­al text painstak­ing­ly inte­grat­ed into vin­tage land­scape repro­duc­tions. The mes­sage of the paint­ings is often thought-pro­vok­ing and almost always humor­ous, with Wayne point­ing a fin­ger at van­i­ty, ego, and his mem­o­ries of the South.” 

All images via his web­site.

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Artist, Painting

Mazzarella Thomas

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Would you want to live in Maz­zarel­la Thomas’s world? While I like his work, I won­der if I could hack it. It’s the appli­ca­tion of paint that gets me. While his paint­ings don bright col­ors and open space, there is also a chalk­i­ness to his work, and leaves me feel­ing like I was in Los Ange­les. A sun­ny place with haze and smog abound. 

I espe­cial­ly like his open fields of col­or set against minus­cule fig­ures. It’s a reminder of just how small we are now mat­ter how impor­tant we may think. 

All images via his web­site.

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Artist

Adam Weir

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My friend and fel­low artist Aman­da turned me on to the work of Adam Weir. Using gouache and water­col­or, he paints dis­joint­ed envi­ron­ments. His state­ment:

Through works on paper, I explore ideas of dis­place­ment, con­sump­tion, and the envi­ron­ments in which we live. By com­bin­ing every­day expe­ri­ence, nos­tal­gia, and urban visu­al cues I cre­ate absurd con­struc­tions with­in my paint­ings to try and under­stand the com­plex inter­ac­tions between peo­ple, spaces, and things. Rec­og­niz­able imagery sur­round­ed by a vast expanse of white cre­ates a dream­like space that may or may not exist. The place­ment of such quo­tid­i­an objects in unnat­ur­al or fan­tas­tic sit­u­a­tions ques­tions the real­i­ty of the world in which they reside. 

All images via his web­site.

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Miscellany

Art Together // Ethan Hayes-Chute

I am very excit­ed to share the lat­est install­ment of Art Togeth­er, a col­lab­o­ra­tive inter­view. It works like this: I cre­ate a piece of work and then mail it to the par­tic­i­pat­ing artist. They, in turn, respond to it some how– this could be: adding, sub­tract­ing, cut­ting, past­ing, paint­ing. What­ever they see fit to what I’ve start­ed. After that, I write some ques­tions based on our col­lab­o­ra­tion.

Ethan Hayes-Chute was an artist that I met while at the Ver­mont Stu­dio Cen­ter last fall. Always up for an adven­ture, Ethan was a lot of fun to get to know, and I’m real­ly hap­py that he was able to par­tic­i­pate in this with me! 

With­out fur­ther ado, here is the piece I sent Ethan: 

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And, here is what he sent back to me: 

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First­ly, have you done any explor­ing recent­ly?

I spent near­ly three months this win­ter in Ice­land, on the east coast at an artists res­i­den­cy pro­gram (www.skaftfell.is), and there was a bit of explor­ing going on there. Win­tery weath­er and lack of access to a car stymied that a bit, but I still saw some great things. I plan to swing by Ice­land again for a bit this sum­mer. I’m also going to be explor­ing a bit of the west coast of Nor­way in a few weeks, and hope­ful­ly I’ll be able to be a bit more mobile there- though I’ll be pret­ty busy, so per­haps that’s a bit over­ly opti­mistic.


How was the deci­sion made to respond to my piece with some­thing a bit less abstract?

Well, indeed, I don’t real­ly work abstract­ly, at least not late­ly, but I want­ed to make some­thing that tied into what I am work­ing on now. I tried out a few more solu­tions before I set­tled on what I end­ed up with, some more abstract. A few were aban­doned most­ly on a mate­r­i­al lev­el, mean­ing I didn’t have access to the right media to do what I ini­tial­ly want­ed while I was work­ing on this in Ice­land.

(The fol­low­ing images cour­tesy of Ethan.)
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“Home­stead (Turn­buck­le) ” Graphite on Paper, 15 x 10.5 cm, 2010

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“Home­stead (One Chan­nel)” Graphite on Paper, 15 x 10.5 cm, 2010


Do you see our pieces as hav­ing a con­tin­u­ing nar­ra­tive? Do you think they exist in the same world?

I do. What I saw in your piece was some sort of storm, per­haps envelop­ing, or shroud­ing, the scene I even­tu­al­ly pulled out of it. When the storm died down, you were able to see what it had been cov­er­ing up. 

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“Sug­gest­ed Worm­house” Graphite on Paper, 7.5 x 10.5 cm, 2010


Your piece has a feel­ing of des­per­a­tion — depres­sion, Grapes of Wrath feel to it. Is this a theme you see in your oth­er work?

Cer­tain­ly, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I sup­pose I was a bit tak­en aback at the loose­ness of it- At first I had a hard time think­ing what I could do oth­er than use it as a back­ground for some­thing else. I looked fur­ther, of course, and found some shapes and forms that I respond­ed to. The stitch­ing imme­di­ate­ly brought to mind an old nee­dle-point that was always in the bed­room I slept in at my grand­par­ents’ house. I think my mom made it when she was young. It was of an old wood­en post stick­ing out of the ground, with grass­es and weeds around it –I need to ask where that end­ed up– I knew I want­ed to use your care­ful stitch­ing in my response; the col­ors evoked wood and boards, as well as those dried weeds in my mom’s nee­dle-point. I also respond­ed quick­ly to this tri­an­gle-shaped por­tion you stitched, on the left hand side. It remind­ed me of a bulk­head used to get down into a cel­lar, and I knew I was going to incor­po­rate that as well. The col­ors of paint you used are also famil­iar to me, so I decid­ed to take those mate­ri­als, forms and col­ors out (in the case of the stitch­ing, lit­er­al­ly) of the orig­i­nal piece and incor­po­rate them into a new piece. I had start­ed sketch­ing out some things on this old piece of paper and left it on my desk for a few days. Appar­ent­ly there was an oily spot on the desk and it soaked into the paper. The splotch was rem­i­nis­cent of the stitched shapes you had made on the orig­i­nal piece, so I decid­ed to con­tin­ue with that paper. The oily splotch­es act­ed as a marshy area for the thread-plants to grow in. I imag­ined that the struc­ture I drew has a cel­lar- and that enter­ing through the bulk­head is the only way into the rest of the house as well. The small peb­bles lit­ter­ing the scene are paint­ed, matched from var­i­ous col­ors in the back­ground, and there are two col­laged ones, cut from the pur­ple-y col­or you had col­lage into the piece. 

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“went to get wood” Wood, found objects, 300 x 250 x 260 cm, 2008


Your body of work involves a lot of dif­fer­ent liv­ing spaces. Some are 2D, but you con­struct oth­er spaces as well. What draws you to this? Do you think your trav­els influ­ence the way you think about home and struc­ture, both lit­er­al­ly and fig­u­ra­tive­ly?

I’ve got­ten very inter­est­ed in the idea of some­one build­ing their habi­ta­tion the way they want it to be- not sim­ply con­tent with mov­ing into a pre-designed space. I imag­ine peo­ple who have decid­ed to start from scratch, using their own ideas of what a house or a home should be, and inves­ti­gat­ing what pos­si­ble forms may come up as a result. I sup­pose my trav­els must have influ­ence in such ideas, but they also do make me go back and think about how it is ‘back home’ and I find I recen­ter my thoughts on those ideas and struc­tures. My draw­ings, which I view as stand-alone works, but also as ‘sketch­es’ for 3D struc­tures I’d like to build as well. In many ways I wish I could be sim­ply liv­ing the life these build­ings are cre­at­ed for, but that might also way-lay my inves­ti­ga­tions into oth­er struc­tures and archi­tec­tur­al inter­pre­ta­tions. That is, unless I can get a big tract of land and build my own town on it. 

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“Frag­ment­ed Cab­in Study in 1:10 scale” wood, paper, plas­tic, met­al, fab­ric, foam, paint, 15 x 14 x 2 cm, 2010


Art-wise, what’s on the hori­zon for you?

From April till July I’ll be artist-in-res­i­dence in Nor­way at the NORDISK KUNSTNARSENTER DALSÅSEN (nkdale.no), which I am look­ing for­ward to great­ly, and while I am there, I’ll have a solo-show in May and June in Bergen, Nor­way at a great space called Entreé, where I’ll make a ful­ly-inter­ac­tive cab­in struc­ture, fur­ther­ing the ideas of anoth­er piece I did a few years ago in Berlin, went to get wood. (http://entree-visningsrom.blogspot.com)

Also in May, I’m show­ing a selec­tion of draw­ings from my series “Sev­er­al Exam­ples of Home­steading” at Mai­son des Arts, Malakoff, France in a group show with some great artists themed around the idea of hous­es and homes. (http://maisondesarts.malakoff.fr/ )

After all that, I’ll have a show in August at the Cen­ter for Maine Con­tem­po­rary Art in Rock­port, Maine which will fea­ture draw­ings and instal­la­tions through out the build­ing, a con­vert­ed barn and fire sta­tion. It’s a great space and insti­tu­tion, so I can’t wait. (http://cmcanow.org/)

Thank you, Ethan!