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Mixed Media

Naomi Yasuda

FingernailNaomi Yasuda creates mesmerizing nail designs that use color as a starting point. She often tops these tiny paintings with beads and ornaments, transforming nails from flat canvases into sculptural works of art. She grew up watching her grandmother, a kimono tailor, make garments from intricately patterned fabrics. The designs shown here, created for Beauty—Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial, are inspired by those traditional Japanese patterns.


Margaret Braun

MargaretBraunimage1SugarCupsArt can be conceived and constructed in many different mediums. Jackson Pollack used house paint instead of oils. But there are some articsts that take their materials one step further. Margaret Braun is a renowned baker who also is sugar artist - one who uses sugar to create inedible art as well as edible art.

Margaret Braun’s medium is sugar. Growing up in Levittown, New York, amongst thousands of cookie-cutter houses, Braun was curious about the ways in which personal identity genuinely thrives when set against sameness.  As a child, she responded to this environment by filling notebooks and covering surfaces with ornate sequential patterns.  As an adult, she rediscovered this solace by decorating cakes. 

During her time at New York's Museum of Art and Design, Braun designed, created and executed an installation of 2,000 hand-hewn sugar cups produced through a variety of techniques from molding sugar to painting decorations in gold leaf.  Her process is rigorous and methodical, creating a studio environment that is equal parts the workplace of a fine artist and of a craftsperson operating under a strict production schedule.

Braun is the author of Cakewalk: Adventures In Sugar With Margaret Braun, teaches throughout Europe and South America, and has been featured extensively in film, print and TV. 

 


Michael Mapes

Michael MapesWhether one categorizes Michael Mapes as a mosaic artist, assemblage artist or reconstructionist, what remains when viewing his work is his sense of artistic destiny created from smalll shards, detritis, bit of photographs and other assorted found items.

His latest series of work is inspired by Dutch Master portraiture. In a method consistent with earlier work, subjects are examined through a pseudo scientific method specifically working with materials and processes signifying entomological, biological and forensic science.

 

"My work suggests the meta-relationship of the subject content, which is to say, it creates a dimensional collage of a painting of a person. In doing so, I consider ways in which to reconstruct the original subject to suggest new meanings. Along with thousands of dissected photos of the original painting, I add a mix of other contrived materials ranging from hair samples to recent photos to costume jewelry. The finished “collections” become dimensional collages within the realm of contemporary portraiture of 17th century subjects."

The result is grand art based on microscopic elements.


Stephanie Hirsch

Stephanie HirschThrough her use of beads, sequins and embroidery, Stephanie Hirsch's canvases are literally 'illuminated' with phrases of enlightenment and hope. Continuing her personal investigations into individual development through text, Hirsch ups the ante by removing the "easy access" of familiar graphic elements inspired by iconic punk-rock album covers and adding a recognizable figurative element. The use of the figurative element humanizes her compositions and is based upon self-portraits driven by her fascination on the whole social media "selfie" craze.  Wanting to delve deeper into how "selfies" create an image of how we want to be portrayed in the world rather than who we actually are, she shot her "selfies" while saying and feeling the emotional content in the compositions.  Hirsch states, "I was also inspired by Cindy Sherman's work titled 'Aging Socialite.' Sherman perfectly executed the daunting look in the eyes that spoke of insecurity and fear of a life no longer lived.  My fear of just existing while living promoted my 'selfie' study as well.  I am also profoundly influenced by Barbara Kruger whose text based work questions autonomy and desire, which I yearn and struggle for within myself."

 

The journey of how Hirsch struggles with her external and internal self creates a unique entry point for the artwork.  The viewer can identify and reflect upon their own personal experiences by simply reading the words and connecting with the visage.  This simple, yet profound shift creates the intimate and introspective underpinning to the work allowing the viewer to oscillate between the beauty of the materials and the message implied. Using insights like "I'd Rather Die on My Feet than Live on My Knees," "I Was Not Built to Break," "We All Find Our Way," and "It's Never Too Late," Hirsch weaves a story of overcoming one's personal adversity and building an inner spirituality that hopefully filters out into the world.

 

Stephanie Hirsch has shown in exhibitions in New York, the Hamptons, Miami and San Francisco. She was a featured artist in Miami Design District's Art Walk (2012) and showcased in the Mercedes Benz VIP lounge at Lincoln Center during New York Fashion Week (2012).  Hirsch was among 30 artists commissioned to create a unique commemorative crown for display in Harrods (London) in celebration of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee (2012). Hirsch is the founder of Inca resort wear and author of "Mother Nurture," published by William Morrow (2008).  She lives and works in New York City.

Nikko Hurtado

Nikko HurtadoArtist Nikko Hurtado uses both canvas and skin for his paintings. Both a lowbrow painter and tattoo artist, his medium of choice is almost irrelevant. What is important is the result - fine and compelling portraits, intricate and beautiful still lifes and raw subject matters. The work intrigues. And much of the results are, interestingly, rather classical. This so despite the backstory.

He describes himself as "I'm a tattoo artist/artist. I've been doing art pretty much my whole life. I specialize in portaits, and I like to do what are called alla prima painting its a style of painting thats its a on sitting painting of someone start to finish. I would really like to find some models that would like to sit for me, and it would help me grow in my skills of painting."


James Prez

Jim Prez's 'book-tures' (sculptures comprised of a book base with found objects artfully fastened atop) make inspired use of thrift store bric-a-brac and second-hand books.

Booktures and book reserves

What is your background in art-making?

I have been making things since grade school but very early on I took to photography and worked on making photographs for many years. I don't have an art degree from college but I did get an MFA in Photographic Studies from Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, NY. Much of my background in art comes from looking at books from libraries in the various cities that I have lived in. I have tried to make at least one thing every day since 1977.

What was the inspiration for the idea of creating these booktures?

I was visiting the Philadelphia Museum of Art and noticed that there were more people waiting in line to have their pictures taken with the Rocky Statue than were going to the museum. I figured that I could make more interesting works for people to visit and be photograhed in front of than the Rocky bronze so I started working on maquettes for monumental sculptures. The "booktures" came directly from that idea.

Who are some of your artistic (or other) influences?

I try not to be influenced by other artists' work but I surely do love looking at other artists' work. There are so many that it would be difficult to name them all. Of course I would have to list Vincent van Gogh, Marcel Duchamp, Joseph Cornell, Robert Rauschenberg, Joan Mitchell, Georgia O'Keefe, Lee Krasner, Yayoi Kusama, Howard Finster, James Castle and Richard Tuttle. I have been fascinated by the work of Suzanne Goldenberg for the past few years. Her work is pure magic. I love artists who make work but aren't concerned with selling, showing or getting reviewed. Work that comes from the heart and soul.

Does the title of the book play any role in what gets put on top of it?

The title of the book rarely plays a role in the book. I wish I was smarter and more clever in that regard. The book, however, is the point of departure for the work. I play off its shape, size and color.

Bookture and Book Display

Where do you find your found art?

I spent a year looking for the raw materials, for my booktures, in thrift stores, junk stores, and at the Salvation Army, garage sales, church sales, library sales, stoop sales and on the street.

I also visited the Strand two or three times a week during that year. I took another two years to assemble and photograph the booktures. There are approximately 250 of them. I stopped making them but did make three new ones for the Mulberry Library show.

Obviously your work includes books—was this your motivation for displaying work in libraries?

Yes, absolutely. The library is free and open to all. I like that idea very much!

Where else do you show your work?

I show my work in galleries, museums, artist spaces and on the street.

I like to post things on Facebook also. Printed Matter has been selling my bookverks since 1988. I will have had 25 years of bookmaking and finished my 500th book by the year's end. (2013)


Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt

Thomas Lanigan-SchmidtA pop-cultural connoisseur with a magpie’s eye for what shimmers and shines, Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt has been using plastic wrap, reflective foil, colored beads, pipe cleaners, glitter, staples and photographs for more than 40 years to create shrines to saints, sacred and secular, emblematic of queer identity. He includes himself among the elect in an early collage titled “Twinky as a Prima Ballerina (Self-Portrait),” completed in 1969, the year of the Stonewall Rebellion, in which he participated.

Lanigan-Schmidt began by exhibiting his art in his own apartment; an early major exhibit in 1969 was titled The Sacristy of the Hamptons. Another home exhibit was titled The Summer Palace of Czarina Tatlina.  In these early home exhibits, and also in at least one later recreation of an early exhibit, he guided visitors through the exhibit in drag in character as art collector Ethel Dull.

While Lanigan Schmidt's art is not widely known, he has received critical acclaim.

Reasons for Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt's art not reaching a wider audience totally elude me. This is major, major work, reflecting and augmenting today's dialogue in a unique and commanding voice. Many artists, including a generation of Lanigan-Schmidt's students, have been repeatedly amazed, inspired and guided by its panache, rapier-sharp wit, subversiveness and opulent beauty.

—Robert Kushner, Art in America

 

 


Marcelino Vicente

Mexican potteryIn the rural Mexican state of Michoacán, devils, mermaids, saints, sun gods, and drunks can all be found mixing it up and having a great time. Each of these characters, and many more, inhabit the strange universe depicted in sculptures produced in the tiny town of Ocumicho.

These bizarre pottery tableaux feature hybrid scenes from everyday life, religious allegories, and native folklore, all borne from the mind of a unique young man named Marcelino Vicente. Resembling Hieronymus Bosch’s nightmarish landscapes from the 1500s, but with a Catholic-folk art twist, these ceramic fantasies are found nowhere else. Yet during the 1960s, Vicente’s eccentric lifestyle was perceived as a threat to the town’s social hierarchy, which ultimately destroyed him for being different.

Don Lewis, an artist and collector of Mexican folk art, says the strangeness of Ocumicho pottery first caught his eye in a Santa Fe antiques shop nearly 20 years ago. “Just the life in it, the colors, the craziness of it,” says Lewis. Before he knew it, Lewis was purchasing Ocumicho pieces to decorate his home.

“The first one I ever bought was very simple, nothing too weird about it. It was just two people—a woman and a man—out in an agave field, picking agave to make tequila. The second one was like a man in the moon, but it’s more of a sun face with really sharp teeth. Then another one came along, and I started noticing the devils.” These miniature devil figures, or diablitos, are a particularly striking element of Ocumicho sculptures.

 


El Anatsui

IMG_0287 IMG_0287There is something wonderful, mystical and very satisfying about the sculputral work of El Anatsui who uses found objects and throwaway trash to construct is ever flowing and changing sculptures.

El Anatsui was born in Anyanko, Ghana in 1944. Many of Anatsui’s sculptures are mutable in form, conceived to be so free and flexible that they can be shaped in any way and altered in appearance for each installation. Working with wood, clay, metal, and—most recently—the discarded metal caps of liquor bottles, Anatsui breaks with sculpture’s traditional adherence to forms of fixed shape while visually referencing the history of abstraction in African and European art. The colorful and densely patterned fields of the works assembled from discarded liquor-bottle caps also trace a broader story of colonial and postcolonial economic and cultural exchange in Africa, told in the history of cast-off materials. The sculptures in wood and ceramics introduce ideas about the function of objects (their destruction, transformation, and regeneration) in everyday life, and the role of language in deciphering visual symbols.

El Anatsui received a BA from the College of Art, University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana (1969) and since 1975 has taught at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. His works are in the public collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Indianapolis Museum of Art; British Museum, London; and Centre Pompidou, Paris, among many others. Major exhibitions of his work have appeared at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown (2011); Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto (2010); National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka (2010); Rice University Art Gallery, Houston (2010); Venice Biennale (2007); and the Biennale of African Art, Senegal (2006). El Anatsui lives and works in Nsukka, Nigeria.


Viktor Koen

Viktor Koen D.P.Toy-No.23.1.tViktor Koen is a surrealist whose quirky and compelling constructions mezmerize and disturb. Take, for example his "Dark Peculiar Toys" which is an assembly experiment pitting the philosophies of what a toy is and is supposed to do, differ and collide. These collisions deface, brake or de-construct the toys into piles of raw materials, waiting to be re-constructed in alternative ways, without instructions or the memory of their origins and function. Especially without consideration for their original creators intentions. Curiously they brake down not only to their essential parts but to details of character and spirit - if they ever possessed any. They only retain colors, shapes and the scars inflicted by their previous owners. Scars that separate them from their assembly line identical multiples and make them one of the kind.

These tragic action figures are trapped between their new condition and the reality of their past. They link older and contemporary prototypes of heroism or role playing, by combining traditional symbols in unorthodox ways. Their appeal lies solely in the tendency children (of any age) have to cannibalize existing objects in order to fuse their own. These creations come at odds with their carefully planed origins and brake gender and age molds by defying children experts, focus groups and sales projections. The newly assembled toys, though somewhat dramatic and traumatic due to their darkness, evoke our emotions and form a connection with us, by taking a place in our personal memories. Not in a "lost childhood blah, blah, blah" way - but as images that communicate nostalgia and joy, or the nostalgia of joy.

These emotions also dominated the process of putting them together. I photographed toys and objects that I collected through the years and travels, some of them parts of my personal childhood, and then mixed and matched them for hours. While this was a different form of play, the magic was the same.

Viktor Koen
Viktor Koen holds a BFA from the Bezalel Academy of Arts & Design in Jerusalem, Israel and an MFA with honors from the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Mr. Koen serves on the faculty of the MFA Illustration program and the BFA Graphic Design Department at SVA.