Mari Hamahira’s sushi appears like tender slices of tuna and creamy sea urchin, but its texture is nothing like the soft, rice-based bites. From rough slabs of stone, the artist carves lifelike nigiri and rolls of gunkan-maki that are assembled into deceptively realistic sculptures and garnished with scallion rings, wasabi, and tiny mounds of roe. The coloring of each work is derived entirely from the material’s natural pigments, whether through smoothing and polishing or combining powdered granules into new hues.
Mixed within the delectable offerings are more unsettling pieces that include human body parts like fingers, brains, and ears. A critique of consumption and wastefulness, the series is in response to the artist’s work in the seafood industry, where he witnessed creatures harvested for their meat and then subsequently thrown away without being eaten.
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Miami-born Kassandra Guzman diverges from the sleek, straight lines of minimalism in favor of squiggles and waves. She’s the ceramicist behind the Seattle-based studio Kuu Pottery, where she creates wide-mouthed vessels and playful vases mimicking bananas and other fruits. Part of her Boinggg! collection, many of the amphora and mugs have classically shaped bases with atypical handles that coil in lengthy runs and create undulating bows.
Guzman has a few projects in the works, including an illustrated series and a new body of ceramics printed with decals. See a larger collection of the artist’s pieces and browse available vessels in the Kuu shop. (via design milk)
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Patrick Cabral re-envisions the intricate veins striping the tail of a fish and grooves in a pangolin’s scales with delicate, lace-like flourishes. The Manila-based artist is known for his sculptural portraits of wild animals and fantastical creatures that layer hundreds of paper cutouts into stunning three-dimensional works. Primarily composed with white, Cabral’s most recent pieces utilize gold for trimming a hippo’s facial features and heightening the depth and texture of the coiling, intertwined bodies of a dragon and its rival. The metallic material also adds contrast to a pair of koi swimming in a circular yin and yang formation.
Currently, Cabral is finishing a few works that will be exhibited from March 18 to 20 as part of Xavier Art Fest, a group exhibition raising money for victims of Typhoon Rai that devastated the southern Philippines last December. Check out his Instagram to see a variety of commissions and personal projects, in addition to a short video detailing his painstaking hand-carving and gluing process.
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Japan-based artist Ayumi Shibata (previously) designs intricate landscapes using layers upon layers of white paper. Some of her sculptures are miniature, whereas others are immersive installations, and all are brought to life with the play of light and shadow, which create “movement” throughout her pieces. The works feature architectural domes, cave-like forests, and swirling suns hovering over tree-filled cities. These picturesque places aren’t based on a particular location but what the artist “hopes and believes the future of the planet could look like”.
Shibata’s ethereal landscapes envision a world in which humans and natural forms coexist, and she describes her pieces as having a “Yin and Yang” element. Paper represents Yin, the material, and the ways the works emit shadows correlates to Yang, the invisible world. “The light represents spirit and life, how the sun rises and breathes life into the world,” she explains. “I believe my pieces are a place to observe the material world and the visible one.”
The physical elements have a deeper meaning for the artist, as well: In Japanese, Kami means god or spirit but also paper, a sacred material in the Shinto religion. “Invisible ‘Kami’ spirits dwell in various objects and events, places, as well as in our houses and in our bodies,” she says. “I use my technique to express my thankfulness to the Kami spirits for having been born in this life. Each piece of paper I cut is a prayer.”
Shibata began constructing these sculptures when living in New York. She would visit a church to meditate and escape the noise of the city, and it was when she observed light illuminating stained glass that she was reminded of her love of working with paper. The artist explains:
The city was full of noise. Everything, people, time goes so fast and moves rapidly, and I needed a quiet space to go back to myself. One day, I opened my eyes after meditation and saw colorful light flooding the floor through the stained glass. It was breathtakingly beautiful. It reminded me of a memory from childhood where I used to cut black paper and stick colored cellophane behind it to make a ‘paper’ stained glass piece. I got the tools on my way home and tried it that night. From that moment, I continued to cut paper.
Currently, Shibata is working on an installation called “Inochino-uta, Poetry of Life,” for an exhibition later this year. The large-scale project is made out of 108 pieces of paper connected by strings and suspended from the ceiling. To view more of the artist’s work, visit her Instagram or website.
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An apple oozing into a flat puddle or a round bulge is likely a sign of softening and rot, although the fruits carved by Yosuke Amemiya retain their supple, juicy freshness despite their melting appearance. The artist, who moved to Yamanashi, Japan, from Berlin a month ago, shapes succulent pieces and paints their likeness with reds, yellows, and speckles of brown discoloration. He’s amassed dozens of the intriguing fruits since he began creating the pieces in 2004—originally he used FRP and plastic before switching to wood—and likens the process to “trying to create human universality through the apple.” The sculptures are a small portion of Amemiya’s practice, which you can delve into on his site. (via Escape Kit)
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Within the luscious pink acrylic that composes Yvette Mayorga’s Surveillance Locket series, messages of joy and nostalgia for a 90s childhood coexist with critiques of consumerism and gendered labor. The Chicago-based artist uses tools like piping bags and tips to apply paint in peaks, curls, and scalloped edges evocative of an elaborately decorated cake. She builds each relief layer by layer, drawing on techniques she gleans from baking shows and Instagram tutorials. “Cake decorating is a true craft that is super laborious,” she says.
This sense of labor permeates Mayorga’s body of work and provides a conceptual framework that’s as subversive as it is celebratory: “The color pink holds so much weight that is tied to fragility and prescribed to femme identity and gender norms. Piping and baking labor is also very gendered and constitutes a perceived notion of labor,” she says. “I am saying that pink and baking labor is powerful. The hyper femme is powerful.”
Alongside fields of ornate textures, the artist also uses the tactile material to define labyrinth-like playhouses, which reference the small, plastic clamshells called Polly Pockets. “It’s a toy that I always dreamed of owning,” she tells Colossal. “To me, it’s a marker of attaining an Americaness that as a child of immigrants is often sometimes forced upon us in order to fit in.” Mayorga’s iterations include recreations of her childhood home alongside gilded rooms, staircases, and Rococo-style flourishes she admired while spending her childhood summers in west-central Jalisco and Zacatecas, Mexico. More modern emblems like cartoon-style characters and the televisions she used to watch MTV and Looney Tunes, alongside frames showcasing art historical works and selfies, complete the decadent mansions.
Beyond their idiosyncratic and playful reflections, though, Mayorga’s works contain more ominous messages. She stations toy soldiers in entries and underneath staircases, shrouding the works with “a feeling of an impending doom” as the concealed characters surveil the scenes in a nod to patrols at the U.S./Mexico border. “My practice is a compounding of these two worlds coming together to create surrealist landscapes that are about the pink, decadent, playful, real-time, nostalgic, art historical, surveillance, and consumerism. To me, the decadence becomes the surrealist in-between space that marks my identity, because it is imagined and an aspiration,” she shares.
You have multiple chances to see Mayorga’s dioramas in person this year: in April, she’ll be at EXPO Chicago, in a group show in Hong Kong this fall, and will open a solo show at Crystal Bridges The Momentary in October. A commissioned work will also be installed in O’Hare’s Terminal Five at the end of the year. See more of her works on her site and Instagram. (via It’s Nice That)
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Editor's Picks: Illustration
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