In Maria Marta Morelli’s luxurious oil paintings, delicate peonies almost bloom through the canvas. The works represent the Buenos Aires-based artist’s fascination with the cycle of time and how flowers convey youth but also the “unbearable finitude of life,” she tells Colossal. “With their incredible beauty and freshness, although transitory, they fill us with hope and convince us that life is worth living.”
Morelli works as if using a macro lens, and sunlight, in particular, informs her practice. For each piece, she studies its effect on the fresh flower’s textures and colors throughout the day—“Sometimes objects are only an excuse to paint the light,” she says—and photographs the lively blooms, giving her a record to work off of as they wilt.
Often taking a month or two to finish a single work, the artist’s process is puzzle-like. She first examines the blend of pigments and saturation in small, abstract pieces and then places the information back together through painstaking layering and precise brushstrokes. It’s the paint’s second or third application in which she sees her botanics “come to life,” she explains. “I don’t work with more than three or four layers because I believe the painting must keep some freshness too, like the flowers I’m painting. That’s why I try to apply the right color and value I see on the model from the very start.”
Having started painting as a child, Morelli says that formative experience taught her to think about art as its own language. “Images can say much more than words, and even faster, we know that already, and through a painting, you can show many feelings in a single message,” she explains.
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Serbian artist Endre Penovác (previously) wrangles the bleeds of black ink and watercolor in his shadowy renderings of domestic and wild animals. Sometimes delineating a talon or ear with thin markings, Penovác primarily allows the medium to run across the paper, transforming a housecat or chicken into a dreamy, phantom-like character. Many of the works frame the central animal with negative space and utilize the soft, hazy edges to evoke fur and feathers. Originals and prints of his paintings are available from Saatchi Art, and head to Instagram to explore an extensive archive of his ghostly creatures.
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Taken across six continents, the entries to the 2021 World Nature Photography Awards capture the hungry, curious, and ingenious animals around the globe. This year’s winners include an arctic fox braving an Icelandic snowstorm, a trio of red ants forming a bridge to let each other pass between rocks, and a serendipitous shot of a leopard seal preparing to snack on a gentoo penguin, which garnered the top prize. Centering on both the largest and the often imperceptible creatures inhabiting the planet, the photos are diverse and an example of the wonder and awe that exists at every level of the animal kingdom. See some of our favorite shots below and the full collection on the award’s site.
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Interview: A Conversation with Social Justice Sewing Academy Explores Community Activism and the Power of Remembering Through Quilts
When witnessing inequity is like digging into an already numb wound and participating in surface-level social justice is as easy as recycling digital shares, the Social Justice Sewing Academy offers the power of touch. The organization works with kids and teens to make quilt blocks that express injustices in their lives, and Colossal contributor Gabrielle Lawrence recently sat down with program director Stephanie Valencia to discuss the project’s mission in a new interview supported by Colossal Members.
They speak about the work of honoring the victims of violence and their families through community art, supporting young entrepreneurs with creative or social justice-oriented businesses, and most importantly, giving people something to hold on to.
So often, when someone loses a loved one, you cherish their items for a while. And then eventually, their items end up in a box, in the back of a closet, or in an attic somewhere. This really does give the family something to hold on to and use every day. Beyond comfort, it’s reflection, as well as memory. Every time they see or touch that quilt, they can remember the good times.
Ultimately, SJSA empowers youth to use their voices and requires tactile processing of issues that often seem bigger than all of us. Every stitch is felt, and it is not a practice that participants must endure alone. From design to completion, each person is required to spend time sitting with these stories in a physical way, which creates room for grief, remembrance, education, and critique.
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Since launching in 2010, Colossal has published thousands of articles featuring emerging and established artists. Our goal has always been to support a vast array of creative endeavors and highlight the beauty of the world around us, and we’ve prioritized accessibility to art in all its forms over clicks. Sharing the work of the most exciting artists, photographers, illustrators, and designers who may not receive coverage in the mainstream press is our greatest joy, but we need your help.
Colossal Members are vital to our publication, and yet make up less than .1% of our overall readership. Their contributions directly support our daily operations, from employing contributing writers and two full-time editors to ensuring that our newsletters reach your inboxes. We still have so much more to discover and share with you, but without the continued contributions of Colossal Members, we simply can’t exist.
We’re thrilled to announce that for the first time, you can become a member for as little as $5 a month or $60 a year. You can read Colossal and our newsletters ad-free and get access to all additional member benefits. Join today and support the creative stories that matter most. We’re so glad you’re out there reading. ❤️
This Week Only: Win Cool Stuff
Become a Colossal Member at any level between 12 a.m. Monday, March 7, and 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, March 16, and you’ll be entered to win one of four amazing artworks, books, and other fun things from some of our favorite creators. No purchase necessary.
- A 5,000-piece CMYK jigsaw puzzle by Clemens Habicht
- A OneClock, the analog alarm that never plays the same melody twice
- The full 7-volume set of Hilma af Klint’s Catalogue Raisonné
- A whimsical paper-pulp mobile from Yuko Nishikawa’s Washed Blueberries series
More Member Perks ✨
All paid Colossal Membership tiers receive the following benefits:
- An ad-free reading experience on Colossal and in our newsletters
- Discounts from The Sketchbook Project, The Hyperallergic Store, Knit-Wise, The Jaunt, 20×200, Create! Magazine, and the Booooooom Shop
- Early access to our quarterly print release. Keep an eye out for our next edition by Tiffany Bozic this March
- A members-only newsletter with sneak-peeks into upcoming events, news, and of course, plenty of giveaways
Support Independent Publishing, Education, and Your Arts Community
In 2021, Colossal Members purchased nearly $1,500 of art supplies through DonorsChoose, and we just surpassed 50 classrooms across all eight areas of support. One percent of membership fees are is always allocated to students.
Colossal Members additionally donated $575 to six arts nonprofits and helped us pay photographers thousands of dollars to license their images. They also supported the launch of our monthly Opportunities for Artists, an article and newsletter devoted to helping creatives find funding and platforms to showcase their work.
What’s Next for 2022
- More upgrades: We just moved to a new server and newsletter service, and we’re reducing trackers and cookies to work toward a privacy-focused reading experience.
- A Colossal Speaker Series: We’re organizing talks, studio tours, workshops, panels, and more with some of the most exciting and engaging artists.
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Ebony G. Patterson’s multi-layered works are willfully superficial. The Jamaican artist weaves together a mélange of torn papers, tassels, appliqués, and feathered butterflies to create striking gardens replete with glitter and vibrant hues. “In many ways, I think of the work as the flower and the audience as the bees,” Patterson told Nasher Museum. “The bee is first attracted to the flower because of its color, but it’s not until you start peeling back the layers that you understand what’s happening with the nectar.”
Often set against wallpaper of her own design, Patterson’s mixed-media tapestries and smaller works are immersive and captivating, inviting study of both individual elements and how they interact. Hidden beneath the obvious allure of flora and fauna, though, are more complex, sinister messages of identity, violence, and death. Likened to “secret poisons,” these inferences relate to the anguish and perpetual mourning many women feel, and in her sprawling tapestry titled “the wailing…guides us home…and there is a bellying on the land…,” for example, feminine hands and limbs attempt to grasp for something beyond the entangled mass of jacquard and beads. “Each form bravely assumes a posture of distress, the onerous emotional and physical labor required to conduct acts of devotion, the soul care that grants permission to confront historic and inherited traumas,” a statement says.
Patterson lives and works between Kingston, Jamaica, and Chicago, and she’s included in multiple upcoming shows: What is Left Unspoken, Love opening on March 25 at the High Museum in Atlanta, a solo exhibition at Hales Gallery running from May 5 to June 18, and this November, at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. Until then, you can explore more of her elaborate works at moniquemeloche, where she’s represented.
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Highlights below. For the full collection click here.