Some refer to them as glass and stone enchantments, others as tomb-like and unsettling, but to artist Christina Bothwell, her work is highly spiritual. Her translucent figures rising from their bodies evoke images of a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis, feeling mutually protected and secure but also fragile in spite of their hardy material. We first featured Bothwell’s works on our blog, and since then, she has gone on to explore more personal themes, dealing with the fear of her own mortality, as well as the fragility and temporary qualities of our bodies, versus the idea that we are more than just physical beings.
In Buddhism, the concept of Samsara is the repeating cycle of birth, life and death or reincarnation as well as one’s actions and consequences in the past, present, and future. Japanese artist Isana Yamada chose to embody this idea in his surreal series of translucent whale sculptures for his post-graduation project at the Tokyo University of the Arts. It is a project that ties into Yamada’s overall concept of Tsukumogami in his artwork, referring to the traditional belief that long-lived animals possess spirits and gods by the transience of time. At his website for the project, he shares, “The title of the piece is “Samsara”, which is a Buddhist term for “cycle of existence”. In this work, six whales are swimming in a circle; these represent the six stages of Samsara. Inside each whale encapsulates various objects, such as submarine volcano, sailboat, and a sea of clouds.”
Vipoo Srivilasa works predominantly in ceramics. He uses porcelain clay to hand build his work, then he paints over it with cobalt oxide to obtain the blue color. The last step of this process consists of firing the work at 1200°C. According to the artist, his work is saturated with symbols taken from different religions, although it’s not meant to evoke religion itself, but rather to reinvent certain religious images. “For the series Roop-Rote-Ruang (Taste-Touch-Tell), I used the Buddhist philosophy of Ayatana as a reference for my work. The Roop-Rote-Ruang (Taste-Touch-Tell) Project is a series of dinner parties that I hosted to embrace the Buddhist concept of “Ayatana” and the six “channels of awareness” (my guests’ sight, taste, smell, hearing, touch and mindfulness)”, he says.
The art of glassblowing is a demanding and unforgiving process, and even with today’s modernized equipment, molding the hot liquid glass can be very dangerous. Indiana based artist Kiva Ford appreciates these qualities of the ancient medium, an art form that he says forces the artist to remain in the present. He sculpts in glass every day, almost obsessively, creating miniatures of things like flowers, animals and geometric forms that he traps in a “ship in the bottle” style bubble or orb.
When digital painter and sculptor Danny van Ryswyk was eight years old, he had an unusual encounter with a UFO, an experience that continues to profoundly impact his artwork- illustrations and 3D printed sculptures of moody, Victorian-styled figures, often displayed in glass bell jars as if they were scientific specimens. Like that flying saucer from his childhood memory, Ryswyk’s characters are darkly fantastical and strange, monochromatic figures that blend his unique interest in the meaning of dreams and the inexplicable like aliens and Victorian spirit photography.
Porcelain has been a highly prized material for centuries, impenetrable, tough and strong, yet it has the magical translucence found in sea shells from which it earned its namesake. These contrasting aspects of porcelain are what make it so fascinating for sculptor Katusyo Aoki, first featured in Hi-Fructose Vol. 21, who has chosen this material to express a multitude of emotions. She is perhaps best known for her intricately carved skulls that are colored in a variety of pure white and blue tones, relating them to a macabre religious object. Her recent pieces have included associations to 18th century designs, Norse folk magic, and more modern references to abstract art, as in her taller, distorted pieces that resemble tree branches or ocean waves. For her current exhibition at Jason Jacques Gallery in New York, “Dark Globe”, Aoki combines her swirling designs with regal, yet dark subject matter.