The surreal ceramic sculptures of Malaysia native Chao Harn Kae are both strange and humorous, combining creatures and appendages with delicate textures. The Hong Kong-based artist’s dreamlike works range in size and mood, as the figures bounce between evoking playfulness and timidness. His charge has been described as “unraveling humanity while remaining true to human nature.”
Whether rendered life-sized in resin and paint or smaller and 3D-printed, Nicholas Crombach’s figures explore our ties to the creatures of the natural world. The Canadian-born artist uses 3D printing as an extension of his past work and purpose, in a time when the contemporary tool is often used to create novelty items and irreverent, one-note sculptures. Services like Shapify have made the reaction of the human body a superficial process, while Crombach tackles something much older in nature.
Natalia Arbelaez’s figures, often built with clay, carry both humor and sadness in their strange forms. Her white ceramic sculptures, in particular, offer texture and personality that feel at once human and something subterranean. The Miami-born Colombian-American artist has excited her pieces across the U.S.
Recent creatures crafted in the workshop of Calvin Ma make seem endearing and childlike. Yet, Ma’s ceramic sculptures are part of an ongoing, cathartic purpose, the artist says. In a statement, he describes why it was “ natural to tap into this childlike sense of exploration and storytelling through my artwork.”
Brooklyn-based, Michigan-raised artist Gary Mellon crafts wood sculptures that are conceived first in his sketchbook. Mellon adds pops of color with acrylic paint, though in much of his work, the natural poplar tones dominate the figures, faces, and totems constructed by the artist. Mellon’s ornate busts seem to blend notes from art history, from Roman influences to contemporary, pop style.
Kate MccGwire’s anthropomorphic pieces exude a naturally sourced beauty as they writhe and loom in place. Much of her sculptural and installation work uses materials from the animal world, like pheasant and crow feathers, to create something new entirely. The British sculptor uses a dozen verbs to describe what she does: “I gather, collate, re-use, layer, peel, burn, reveal, locate, question, duplicate, play and photograph.”