Category: Art

Landfill Dogs:  Photographs of Dogs Without a Home

Landfill Dogs: Photographs of Dogs Without a Home

I recently came across the photography of artist Mary Shannon Johnstone, in doing research about artists in the Raleigh, NC area, where I recently moved.  Johnstone’s current project, called Landfill Dogs is a yearlong project where she photographs dogs from the county animal shelter at the local landfill.

Each image of the different dogs is unique, and the expressions of the animals vary from image to image.  One of my favorite images is taken near the time of sunset.  With red clouds behind, the dog is hopping up into the air, as if he/she is about to catch a Frisbee (or a treat) in the air.

The image of the dogs are beautiful, but also quietly haunting once your learn that each dog is close to euthanasia if they do not find a home.  Each of the dogs have been homeless for at least two weeks before they are photographs.  Each week for 18 months (late 2012–early 2014) the artist is taking one dog from the county animal shelter and photographing him/her at the local landfill.  The landfill site is used because this is where the dogs will end up if they do not find a home, and the dogs are photographed at the site of their potential end.

Johnstone also uses the site of the landfill because the county animal shelter is managed under the same management as the landfill. The artist writes, “This government structure reflects a societal value; homeless cats and dogs are just another waste stream. However, this landscape offers a metaphor of hope. It is a place of trash that has been transformed into a place of beauty.”

As part of her photographic process, each dog receives a car ride, a walk, treats, and about 2 hours of d individual attention. The artist writes that her goal is to,”…offer an individual face to the souls that are lost because of animal overpopulation, and give these animals one last chance. This project will continue for one year, so that we can see the landscape change, but the constant stream of dogs remains the same.”

To see more images of the Landfill dogs, you can check out the Facebook page, where you can keep up with the project.

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SOUP:  Mandy Barker’s Images of Ocean Plastic Debris

SOUP: Mandy Barker’s Images of Ocean Plastic Debris

The “Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” is a floating expanse of waste and debris in the Pacific Ocean that covers an area twice the size of the continental U.S.  It is comprised of mostly plastic debris that is suspended in the sea.  Designer and photographer Mandy Barker has created a series of images called SOUP which is made of plastic debris collected from the beaches around the world, which presents a unique view of what it would be like to swim through garbage in the sea.

To make the images, she photographed pieces of plastic and beach trash in clusters that she positioned and grouped by color or value.  The pieces are photographed on black velvet, and the debris appears to be deep in the sea with a current of water creating the formation as it floats. Each image’s description lists the “ingredients” which might say for example, “plastic oceanic debris affected by the chewing and attempted ingestion by animals. Includes a toothpaste tube. Additives: teeth from animals.”

The images were inspired by Chris Jordan, who created a well-known photograph of the plastic pieces that were found inside albatross chicks after they died.   Barker’s images have been featured on many websites and blog this year, and you can see the on her website.

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Bird in Hand:  Shadow Hand Lights by J.P Meulendiks

Bird in Hand: Shadow Hand Lights by J.P Meulendiks

Taking the classic hand shadow of a bird to new heights, designer J.P. Meulendiks has created a large pendant light made of a series of hands that cast shadows on the walls that include the classic hand shadow of birds.

The piece is called Bird in Hand, and it is made of a material called ECOLOTEK, which is a durable, fully compostable material made of natural hemp fibers and a binder.

When the light is turned on, a series of bird shadows are cast around the room, making an abstract visual of a flock of birds.

Meulendiks designs furniture ,lightning, and other interior products.  In 2010 he started to focus on ecologic design and sustainability and developed the ECOLOTEK material, and created his new label called PLANKTON.

He writes on his website, “I like to describe my work as: fresh, soulful, minimal, with a slice of humor… I try to put a little poetry  and soul into a object. The idea usually defines the design of the product.”

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Jimmy Kuenhle – Inflatable Wonderland Labyrinth of Joy

Jimmy Kuenhle – Inflatable Wonderland Labyrinth of Joy

I recently was able to check out Jimmy Kuehnle’s piece, Inflatable Wonderland Labyrinth of Joy at the Sculpture Center in Cleveland, OH.  Jimmy is an artist known for making inflatable wearable forms that he wears in public spaces, and I was interested to see what inflatable setup he had created for the Sculpture Center show.

When you find the space, which is in the Euclid Avenue Gallery, you are greeted by a sign that has both a warnings and welcome tone.  “Beware of claustrophia.  Watch your step.  No horseplay.  This product was made in a factory containing nylon.  Have a great time.”  I read this as “Have fun but not too much.  This might be a tight and difficult space to get through.  If you have a problem with nylon, do not enter.  But maybe you should try it.”

Past the sign, the space is completely filled with an inflatable brightly colored “bouncy house” style structure that is made of what looks like puffy marshmallow cube shapes.  You hear the loud noise of a blower, and if you dare – you can enter into a single crack between two of the cubes, to enter the work.

I pushed my way in, and found myself surrounded by color, the sound of a blower, and fabric that was quite some work to move to get through. As I continued to push my way through yellow, blue, and pink structures I became focused on finding the walls, and getting to the other side.  The space was a bit tight at times, and the structure is not polite to let you by – you have to push.

I got through the piece, and reached the front of the gallery. I took a break, and pushed my way through again, this time going on the outer edge near the walls, which was harder to get through.

The piece is an interesting investigation of interaction, space, and perception.   The scale, color, and labyrinth of shapes provide an interesting experience that when I think back – I mostly remember the bright color of the fabric, since at times that was all that I could see.

You can read more about his work, and also what he is up to this Winter at Spaces Gallery in the Spaces World Artist Program on his blog and website.




Cloud: A Fragrant Sculpture/Performance Project

Cloud: A Fragrant Sculpture/Performance Project

Diane Borsato is a visual artist working in performance, intervention, video, installation, and photography.   One of her recent projects that caught my eye recently was Cloud, a performance/sculpture project  done in Fall 2012 where she invited  24 participants to wear a highly fragrant gardenia boutonniere to the opening reception of a new commercial gallery.   During the opening, the volunteers mingled throughout the party, and the extravagant scent quickly overwhelmed the space.

The “cloud” of fragrance hung in the air for approximately one hour, after which time the performers and their flowers left the building.

Diane Borsato is currently Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Studio at the University of Guelph, and lives in Toronto.  Images and a list of participants of the performance can be seen on her artist website.

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