Saturday, October 17, 2009

It's Spreading: Some New Viral Art That Could Grow On You

It's spreading. I'm talking about artwork that is depicting disease, virus, the breakdown of society and the human body. Artist Lauren Kalman has a new series in progress replicating skin disease using acupuncture needles, pearls, precious and semi-precious stones, gold and silver. From her web site:

"My work pulls from discourses centered on the imaged body, consumer culture, body aesthetics and illness. In my projects, through the production of personal objects, photography, video, and performance, these divergent discourses are visually linked."

Renee Prisble Una says, "I create work that explores impermanence and fluctuating connections from the viral to the social. I use my work to explore liminal states. My installation work explores each space specifically, using a minimal touch and concepts of community, connectivity and meditative space."

Among the materials she's used in her large-scale installation pieces has been glazed stoneware, mirrors, safety pins and plaster. One, titled Orange Jelly, 2009 (right), utilizes sweaters, zip ties and poly-fil.

Mitra Fabian is, as her web site explains, "a sculptor and installation artist working with atypical materials such as tape, glue, various office and scientific products and even window blinds." I talked a bit about Ms. Fabian in a May 24th blog post on Tape Artists.

Fabian uses these materials to create pieces "often mimicking the appearance of tumors, magnified cells, or mold. These materials often perform as a skin – their translucency captures light and plays tricks on the eye: breathing, swaying, or slowly and quietly growing."

Masako Onodera creates pieces in the form of jewelry and sculpture. Her materials include fibers, plastic grapes and balloons.

"My work is the apparatus to awake viewers and wearers of their own bodies and evanescent life. In my work, I present grotesque, and peculiar, but oddly appealing simulated body parts of appendages, representing rampant, uncontrolled growth and decay. They are both sensual and strange, and suggest an experience of the body that is altered by the tactile and visual characteristics of the object. ....

"When my work is not on the body, it is merely a self-contained object and seduces a viewer’s curiosity with its peculiar and unconsciously familiar form. When it is on the body, it doesn’t decorate the wearer to show one’s status, but identifies the wearer as a living human being."

Trained as a physician in Hungary, Timea Tihanyi is now creating artwork. A work created for the installation window space at the Seattle Art Museum Gallery in 2008 was Tihanyi's attempt at addressing desire, and the push and pull of attraction and repulsion. It is created with felt sculptures, thread and mylar.

"Why is our physical body being both attractive and repulsive at the same time? Why are we equally fascinated and disgusted with it?

"In my work I’m pursuing these questions of attraction and repulsion when it comes to the physical. Glistening surfaces of the polyurethane rubber recall wet innards; smooth powdery whites of the porcelain are like cold laboratory instruments or dry bones."

None of these talented artists' work is limited to specific themes or materials. They are all allowing themselves to explore artistically subjects that may have once been considered taboo.

Lauren Kalman's exhibition, Blooms, Efflorescences and other Dermatological Embellishments was at University of Massachusetts Lowell Gallery.

Her work was  included in The International Exposition of Sculptural Objects + Functional Art at the Chicago, Navy Pier.9.

Renee Prisble Una's work is currently at Northeastern Illinois University Fine Arts Center Gallery in Chicago, IL.

Masako Onodera's work was seen at the International Museum of Surgical Science Gallery late 2009 and early 2010.

Amy Davis Roth, who creates under the name of SurlyRamics, creates amazing, intellectual and thoughtful pieces in ceramics. You can get a wide assortment of pendants, for instance, with sayings and scientific symbols on them. Find the color, size, shape and expression that fits your style. 

Ms. Roth created custom order of ceramic coasters with a representation of the pathogen Listeria monocytogenes in mammalian cells. They're beautiful. That which can only be seen microscopically may mimic what we see on a grander scale, in the night sky.

Images from the Artists' respective web sites, links above

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