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Art

Ethereal Paper Sculptures and Large-Scale Installations by Ayumi Shibata Play With Light and Shadow

February 18, 2022

Anna Marks

A photograph of Ayumi Shibata's white paper sculptures showcasing a miniature urban landscape with large trees

All images © Ayumi Shibata, shared with permission

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.”

 

A photograph of Ayumi Shibata's white paper sculptures

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.

 

A photograph of Ayumi Shibata's white paper sculptures

A photograph of Ayumi Shibata's white paper sculptures showcasing a little boat sailing upon waves

A close up photograph of Ayumi Shibata's white paper sculptures showing dome-like architectural forms and tunnels

A photograph of Ayumi Shibata's white paper sculptures showcasing a swirling sun hovering over a city with lots of trees

A photograph of Ayumi Shibata's white paper sculptures

A photograph of Ayumi Shibata's white paper sculptures

 

 



Art

Colorful Pods and Rings Made from Recycled Paper Dangle from Yuko Nishikawa's Whimsical Mobiles

February 8, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Yuko Nishikawa, shared with permission

In Yuko Nishikawa’s dappled fields of color, dozens of small pods and curved rings in pale blues, greens, and pastel hues hang in dreamlike suspensions. The Brooklyn-based artist (previously) is known for her delicate mobiles made with recycled paper that she hand-dyes and shapes into wide, sloping bowls or flat hoops. Once dried, she attaches the individual pieces to thin metal armature and hangs the fanciful composition from the ceiling.

Nishikawa’s most recent mobiles augment the paper works with clear glass lenses that catch and refract the light, adding another dimension of color to the whimsical displays. “Looking up, clusters of mobiles against the black painted ceiling was like looking up the stars,” she writes of her recent solo exhibition at Kishka Gallery & Library.

At the moment, Nishikawa is involved in multiple projects, including a display at Main Window Dumbo opening in March and an installation at The Brooklyn Home Company this spring. In addition to her paper pieces, she also creates ceramic works, which will be on view at Friends Artspace in Washington, D.C., through summer. She has dozens of new mobiles available in her shop, and you can keep up with her multi-faceted practice on Instagram.

 

 

 



Art

Trees Burst from 100 Elementary Desks in Hugh Hayden's Installation Addressing the Disparities of Public Education

February 4, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Brier Patch” at Madison Square Park (2022). Image courtesy of the artist and Madison Square Park Conservancy, by Yasunori Matsui

Four lawns in New York’s Madison Square Park are now sites of a sprawling and insightful public installation by artist Hugh Hayden. On view through April 24, “Brier Patch” is comprised of 100 small wraparound desks arranged in neat grids evocative of an elementary classroom. Each cedar sculpture is distinct with barren, bark-covered branches bursting from their seats or tabletops, creating a snarled explosion of limbs and twigs that’s impossible to permeate.

Similar to his thorny dining sets in material and aesthetic, the metaphorical works speak to the inequities of education and cite the inherent barriers to achievement. The installation’s name references the tangled mass of prickly vegetation, an environment that’s only hospitable to some. It also draws on the stories of the trickster Br’er Rabbit, a folklore tradition that originated in West and Southern Africa before being repackaged as Joel Chandler Harris’s Uncle Remus stories. In those tales, the rabbit outwits his foes and finds refuge in the largely inaccessible thicket.

In addition to “Brier Patch,” Hayden’s Boogey Men, a solo show responding to cultural issues and a harsh political environment, is on view through April 17 in Miami. Explore more of the Dallas-born artist’s works on his website and Instagram.

 

“Brier Patch” at Madison Square Park (2022). Image courtesy of the artist and Madison Square Park Conservancy, by Yasunori Matsui

“Brier Patch” at Madison Square Park (2022). Image courtesy of the artist and Madison Square Park Conservancy, by Yasunori Matsui

“Brier Patch” at Madison Square Park (2022). Image courtesy of the artist and Madison Square Park Conservancy, by Yasunori Matsui

“Brier Patch” at Madison Square Park (2022). Image courtesy of the artist and Madison Square Park Conservancy, by Yasunori Matsui

Hayden creating “Brier Patch “at Showman Fabricators (2021). Image courtesy of the artist and Madison Square Park Conservancy, by Yasunori Matsui

Hayden installing “Brier Patch” (2022). Image courtesy of the artist and Madison Square Park Conservancy, by Rashmi Gill

 

 



Art Craft

Knit Coral Suits and Vibrant Marine Creatures Spring From Mulyana's Whimsical Yarn-Based Ecosystems

January 26, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Mulyana, courtesy of Sapar Contemporary, shared with permission

In Mulyana’s Fragile Ecologies, two figures cloaked in coral and algae tower over beds of fiber-based sea creatures. The Indonesian artist continues his playful and eccentric approach to marine life conservation in his solo show on view through March 4 at Sapar Contemporary, which brings some of his life-sized costumes and an array of woolen specimens to the gallery. Each piece is knit or crocheted with recycled, brightly colored yarn, which the artist fashions into sprawling ecosystems and immersive installations that dangle from the ceiling.

Mulyana puts a fantastic twist on the natural lifeforms, especially when crafting his signature Mogus character: most recently, the reimagined octopus is outfitted with a mustache in leopard print, innumerable eyes all over its body, and polka-dotted horns. Lighthearted in presentation, the works are rooted in more urgent issues like the effects of the climate crisis, isolation, and how we collectively configure identities that are always evolving. A statement about Fragile Ecologies says:

On a macro level, Mulyana’s profound concern for the eroding environment and our collective lack of care for the natural world parallels the importance of self-care on a micro level. His message encourages a holistic path to self-preservation amidst a chaotic and uncertain post-pandemic world. While Mulyana does not overtly reference gender and sexuality in his intricate installations, the diversity of his colorful environments and spectacular costumes allude to the fluidity of human identity.

For more of Mulyana’s underwater knits and costumes, head to his site and Instagram.

 

A person wearing a knit costume evoking sea creatures by artist Mulyana.

 

 



Art

6,000 Strips of Washi Tape Intersect in a Kaleidoscopic Installation by Artist Emmanuelle Moureaux

January 25, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images by Daisuke Shima, courtesy of Emmanuelle Moureaux, shared with permission

One hundred colors and 6,000 strips of masking tape later, Tokyo-based French architect and artist Emmanuelle Moureaux (previously) has constructed an elaborate installation of intersecting lines in Kurashiki, Japan. The immersive work, which was a commission from the brand mt, extends from the factory floor to ceiling in a crisscrossing mishmash of diagonals and pigments. To complete the piece, which is part of Moureaux’s 100 Colors series, the artist fastened 15-millimeter tape in a vibrant, rainbow gradient throughout the space, leaving a tunnel-like walkway for visitors to pass through and experience how perspectives shift depending on the angle.

Explore more of the artist’s architectural installations on her site and Instagram. (via designboom)

 

 

 



Art

An Annual 'Giant Letter' Installation Displays a Heartfelt Note from a 100-Foot-Tall Boy Named Bobby

January 21, 2022

Grace Ebert

2020 in Austin. All images © Giant Letter, shared with permission

Every year on December 12, a handwritten letter on oversized lined paper appears on a residential lawn in Chicago or Austin. The massive constructions, which stand between 8- and 12-feet high, are part of an ongoing project that shares heartfelt messages between an imaginary 100-foot-tall boy named Bobby and those who matter most in his life (aka his mother Lucinda, cat Mr. McFluffins, and Santa).

Chicago-based artists Caro D’Offay and Laura Gilmore began Giant Letter back in 2012 as a way to connect with their community following the tragic killings at Sandy Hook Elementary. Marj Wormald joined the pair a few years later, and together, they’ve installed 10 iterations. “We’re trying to create an atmosphere,” D’Offay said in an interview. “The person standing there can in a way feel very small but also have big emotions. It can be transformative for someone, and they’re just walking their dog.”

 

2021 in Chicago

During its decade-long run, Giant Letter displays have included microscopes and astronomy books, huge pencils and cups of tea, and of course, chocolate chip cookies and milk. Every piece also sets a “Bobby box” nearby that encourages visitors to drop in messages they’d like to share with the child. In the most recent version installed at the intersection of Glenwood and Albion avenues in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood, a 35-foot tool stretches alongside a letter from Bobby’s mother detailing her cancer diagnosis. “I know this is a much bigger tape measure than you probably need but I want you to dream big and make giant magic!” it reads.

Organizers say the 2021 installation will stay in its current spot indefinitely, although they’re hoping to transfer the project to a museum or gallery in the future. You can follow their progress on Instagram.

 

2021 in Chicago

2019 in Austin

2016 in Austin

2016 in Chicago

2014 in Chicago

2013 in Chicago

2012 in Chicago

2012 in Chicago

 

 

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