Animals and Mystery in Tamsin Abbott’s Fusion of Magic and Glass

Raycomb House, by Tamsin Abbott

Tamsin Abbott builds wonder from carefully etched drawings on stained glass, usually hand-blown (Abbott tends to use “mouth-blown”) by other craftspeople.

Stained glass not only glows with intense color, it has deep religious connotations. Abbott’s work hints at this spirituality, but resonates with older, more animistic tales and associations.

It’s exciting to see other artists on related paths, and I wish I’d found these wonderful works when I was working on my own series of mythic animal-centric pieces. The inspiration would’ve been fascinating, I’ve no doubt.

Angela Harding Creates Nonverbal Narratvie and Mystery

Three hares stare nervously from a tangked shrub in front of a lit house and distant figures in the snow

“We Three Hares” by Angela Harding

There are a few artists doing something not too far from the things I’m experimenting with. Animals in stories, more abstract forms, saturated color. Angela Harding has a woodcut feel to most of her work, and it’s edging more into the commercial print realm than I usually want to go. But I don’t want to ignore that world, either.

Harding is—and rightly so, I’m sure—taking advantage of the attention on her work to expand her venues to merchandising and business commissions. And why not? There’s more snobbish division than I like between illustration and “fine art,” and I don’t think either is superior.

Her work has an art of the mysterious, a little Gorey in there, some dark shadows contrasting the playfulness of the scenes.

The Beautiful Geology of Karin Waskiewicz’s Paintings

© Karin Waskiewicz

I can’t believe I haven’t shared Karin Waskiewicz here before, but a search of the archives seems to show just that. I came across her work when I was finishing my BFA, and it’s engrossing and beautiful. At the time I bookmarked and clipped several of her online images, I was struck by her simple, careful, and novel approach. I’m also a sucker for saturated color, and there’s lots to be found.

At the time, she worked mainly by layering dozens of paint layers on panel, building them up as they dried. She then used tools to carve back into the painting’s stratigraphy, creating biomorphic forms and patterns. She’s got some new work at her site that’s more atmospheric and subtle, but the heart of it is the same. Mesmerizing work that rewards long viewings, is what it is. Her Instagram is here.

You’re Not Too Old: Sheila Hicks, Strange and Intense Work at 84 Years

A widening column of brilliantly colored ropes of fabric cascade into a heap at its base, seemingly floating atop a forested river.
Sheila Hicks, unknown work from the Horst Festival, Belgium 2018. photo by Jeroen Verrecht

It’s easy to think you’ll be overlooked if you’re no longer young, the stars of the art world mostly fawned and obsessed over in their 20s. But cheer up, most of us will be overlooked! But if you’re thinking you might be past it, Sheila Hicks is 84. She’s a fiber artist making some of the best work of her life. Yes, she started younger. As Mayer Hawthorne said: You’ll never be as young as you are today. It really makes no difference. The sooner you start, the sooner we get your work.

Sheila’s is beautiful, gloriously saturated, and it makes me feel like I should let my eyes take a nap from experiencing so much visual joy.

We aren’t making art to be a star. That might be a nice bonus, and have fun if you get that. But it’s in human DNA to make art, and if you’re alive you’ve got some of that. Do it. Sheila will be.

Joan Jonas’s Art Ecology Reflects the Ocean’s

Joan Jonas has an installation at Ocean Space, a new exhibition venue made to facilitate artists and scientists studying the oceans. It’s fascinating and eclectic. Jonas incorporates performance, sculpture, video, drawing, and painting into the work, which may not be fully finished till the end of its run in September.

She’s paralleling the natural ecology of the sea with a kind of ecology of artistic practice. Everything works together as a whole piece, no one element is meant to stand on its own. They feed and support each other.

Julia Iredale’s Haunting Conceptualscapes

I don’t put a lot of illustrators on the blog, even though I have a soft spot for many, and probably more of my art books feature them than any other type. I really like Julia Iredale’s work, however, and love her sense of color. She often chooses limited palettes, moving deftly through various line styles to suit the piece.

I’ve found quite a few that would fit a “mood” meme post, and Iredale is among the few whose work is deceptively simple, incorporating clever arrangement and scale to tell stories with image alone.

Mary Sibande’s Sculptures Create a Connection Between Domestic Servant and the Sublime

 

Usually, I think of the sublime as a feeling of awe prompted by a vastness or an eternal existence, like landscapes or empty spaces. But there’s another kind, one that turns up unexpectedly, when the mundane is presented in an almost worshipful way.

Such is the work of Mary Sibande, a South African sculptor using fabric, photography, and molds of her own body to create a beautiful and, yes, sublime portrait of domestic servitude that transcends the idea of both occupation and the word, “service.” The trappings are there, but the images and traditions are both transformed into something more.

In her own words, which are much better than mine, she explains the origin of her recent work.

The Open Spaced Wild of Ruby Onyinyechi Amanze

Amanze works with surrealism and figure—mashups? There’s a mystical element to many works, finely detailed figures and things floating in the white space of their surfaces.

It’s disturbing and charming at the same time. The sense of myth or spirit world imbues the drawings that also show us the plain, real, everyday. The open spaces have a quiet, meditative structure, where anything could happen, but for now the moment of stillness stretches.

Lucky Bostonians Will Get a Fun and Funny Nicole Eisenman

sketch of a fountain

Nicole Eisenman’s sculpture in Germany

Eisenman works with figures, or more accurately, with the body. She often puts a queer sensibility in her pieces, playing with gender expression and convention. She’s another artist who often puts humor into her work, which I always like to see in fine art.

So much contemporary art takes itself super seriously, and we could all do with occasional wind taken out of our hoity-toity sails. The sculpture, Sketch for a Fountain (2017), is a joyous and life-celebrating piece, something the world always needs more of.

I see echoes of other artists in her paintings, Guston and the realists (usually parodied) are two, historical painters edge in as well. The occasional crudeness—maybe grotesquery is more apt—belies her skill as a draftsperson. Enjoy, Boston.