Beauty In The Eye of The Beholder – The Embroidery Work of Hannalie Taute

South-African artist, Hannalie Taute’s contemporary take on embroidery happens on rubber stitched together from discarded inner tubes. Her work is dark and edgy. I can only think of words I would not use to describe it, like: sedate, subtle, or delicate.  The faces stitched into the abandoned materials scream at you from their tough leather looking exteriors – this is not your grandmother’s embroidery.

I’m a fan of Taute’s work.  She masters the askew – doming it under bell jars, framing it in silver serving plates, leaving threads to dangle out of her stitching, letting the danger seep into our realm.  I find it difficult to look away from her strangely beautiful things.

As time drew closer for me to call Hannalie for our interview, I imagined a husky sounding woman picking up, morosely explaining her work to me.  All of that dreaming, fell completely out of context when this sweet-sounding mother, who admits she sometimes patterns her work after pop culture offerings, greeted me with a cheerful ‘Hello’.

What we assume is not always so.  Hannalie owns many expressions of her personality which allow her to evolve creatively.  Just like embroidery is composed of more than feminine linens stitched with sweet sayings for butts to sit on.

Before we get started, Hannalie apologetically warns me that Afrikaans is her first language, so the interview might get a bit rocky.  She mentions this after we have gushed on about The Little Prince, Minecraft and an Andy Warhol penis.

I think she did just fine…

This is the first time I have seen embroidery on rubber. To your knowledge, are there any other artists that work with this material?

Hannalie: I know that there is another South African artist, Nicholas Hlobo – part of my inspiration. He works with rubber as well, but he uses it differently.  He takes ribbon and rubber, and makes sculpture & abstract works – but he doesn’t embroider per say. He works with the medium, but I said to myself, ‘I can get a lot of artists that use oil paint, and each one would employ it differently.  I can use rubber as well, but make it my own.’

It is a lovely medium to work with. Even though I’m inspired by his use of rubber, our process and concept is very different.

That is what’s lovely about inspiration; that spark you can spin into something else.

On average, how long does it take you to complete a piece? I want people to get a sense of how labor intensive your work is.

My huge wall hangings can take up to six months. A smaller work, like the one I sent for the STITCHED show at Paradigm Gallery took about 2 months – that includes sourcing the rubber, cutting the rubber, cleaning the rubber, stitching and framing the piece.

 

What a process … How do you prime the rubber to then begin working with it?

I get it in a tube from the company. Some companies just throw them away, so I go and collect them.  I wash, dry, and polish them before I draw on them.  I don’t have an assistant at the moment, so I do everything myself.

 

Woah.

Yeah.

 

Creep(er) embroidery on rubber, 2017  – now on display at Paradigm Gallery for the STITCHED group show. | Taute explains how Creep(er) self-portrait came to be: “Minecraft is a computer game and my children play it a lot. Apart from Zombies and Skeletons, one can also encounter a ‘Creeper’, and they normally explode. A Creeper can be recognized by its tall vertical structure, and green pixellated skin. I can relate to their need to explode, so I decided to embroider a self-portrait wearing a ‘creeper’ jacket, but instead of holding dynamite or some sort of explosive, I decided to embroider an Andy Warhol inspired-penis.”

 

I’m curious, are you constantly bending your needles trying to pull your thread through the rubber?

I’ve broken a couple of needles…the rubber is not that tough, its’ softer than leather actually. So I don’t need to make my holes beforehand, the needle goes straight through.  I’m struggling to work with fabric at the moment because I’m used to the thickness of the rubber.

How long have you been working with this medium?

I started in 2012 – so a short while ago.  My first Solo Show was called Rubber Ever AfterI’ve got so much to learn still.

There is something macabre about the aurora of your work, which I find quite interesting.  But then, I suppose it might be a bit difficult to go sweet with rubber.

Yeah, all the connotations to bondage and stuff. (laughing)

Maybe ‘sweet and leather is the perfect juxtaposition.

You also draw inspiration from books and your children’s interest. Does each piece start with a particular memory?

I love reading and listening to other people’s stories about their relationships, and such. Even if I don’t find my inspiration directly at that moment, I’ll collect those moments, write out my thoughts and revisit them later.  Mostly, its driven by how I feel at a certain stage.

‘What is essential is invisible to the eyes’ is on display at Paradigm Gallery for the STITCHED group show. | Taute on this piece: ‘What is Essential’ was inspired by The Little Prince – I read it every year at least once. The quote goes, “What is essential is invisible to the eye. It is only with the heart that one sees rightly.”

How has your work been received in South Africa?

Very good… I won my first art award working with rubber. I like it when people come up to me after a show to chat – I’ve had a few great discussions with them about ancient embroidery.

Ancient embroidery? Is this art form much order than most realize?

Oh yes.  There’s a pretty good book called Subversive Stitch… you know, men used to do this too and not just women.  The book has a detailed history of how women used needlework in the 18th and 19th centuries. Stitching has such a rich history throughout the world. The origin of it is fascinating.

My mother-in-law does needle work as well. When she sees my work, she gets so frustrated because she believes it must be perfect. If she makes a mistake in her work, she will pull everything out and start again. I don’t allow myself that luxury, I keep on going and working.  Its’ ok to make a mistake and carry on.

Well then, your imperfections make for unique pieces. I really enjoy your sculptural work; they are fascinating and a bit scary. There’s one from your series Implanted Memories that I love – the pig face on the body of a young child.

That’s She Wants to Build a House with Thread.

It is interesting what people find scary.  My children watch monster movies; I remember scary monster stories from my youth. Compared to theirs, my monsters are cute and cuddly.  I’m wondering what is scary out there still?

She Wants to Build a House with Thread, 50 x 30 x 30 cm Medium: Fabric, found object, cotton thread and rubber

 

I don’t know.  Maybe we’re afraid of the ‘imagined threat’. I still get chills when I read older stories from The Brothers Grimm or Hans Christian Andersen.  That’s what I meant when I said I love the scare factor in your work, because they remind me of darker fairy tales – the ones without the cute moral endings. 

I had an exhibition called, The Grimm Needle. I asked people, ‘What did they fear? Could they name a fear for me based on the unknown?’ Their responses were quite interesting. I suppose there is a lot of fear around that – the unknown.

Because you don’t know what to expect. If you can’t prepare for something, then comes the onset of anxiety.

I guess that is why people fear death because it is the unknown.

So many questions swirling around that.

Wonder if I could stitch it…

“Heks/Witch” Altered photograph, cotton thread, rubber and wood. 61 x 42 cm

 

The More You Know:

Stitching Less to Convey More – Tsurubride’s Charming Embroidery Confession

 

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It’s a lazy Saturday afternoon and Brooklyn based artist, Meghan Willis (aka Tsurubride), and I are chatting about the calming effect embroidery has on us. One of us ‘might’ have mentioned that embroidering keeps us from murdering people at work. And while mine might actually look like it was stitched by a shaky hand after an actual stabbing, Meghan’s hand embroidered work delicately captures women in various stages of undress, laced in bits of boldly colored textiles.  She gives her women strength within the stitch, dressing them in a celebration of their sexuality, creating an illusion of movement with clean lines — my favorite are her double and triple takes stitched like a series of rapid blinks.

Three of her newer pieces will be exhibited in Paradigm Gallery’s upcoming group show, ‘Stitched’.  The show focuses on the shift in opinion toward embroidery, stitching, and other fibers techniques historically associated with women and “domestic tasks”.  Sadly, this type of work doesn’t get shown in museums a lot.  Is that due, in large part to an ongoing contested artistic legacy of the work? Or is it lack of knowledge of the skill and creativity required to create these artworks? Do you think shifting the focus toward the creativity required to produce these pieces pushes the conversation into the art realm?

Meghan and I jump right into our explorations on the evolution of stitching:

 

I want to steer the conversation away from craft, by refraining from overuse of technical terminology. I think it’s a real concern, that if we continue to talk about the medium in terms of crafting, that’s the way people will continue to view it.

Tsurubride: I see the point. It’s just another way; another medium.  Instead of a pen or a paintbrush – even with digital art and collage – a combination of all these skills come together to bring whatever is in your head, onto the fabric.

It has excited me to see opinions shift drastically about fiber techniques—I stitch during my commute on the train. Sometimes people sit down next to me and either recount watching their grandmothers stitching or express a surprise that anyone still does it.  I’ve noticed that most people don’t recognize what an embroidery hoop is.

I sometimes take my work with me when I travel, but I rarely get a chance to touch it.

How do people react to you embroidering while you’re traveling?

I have stitched while riding Amtrak a couple of times.  Once I was in business class sitting around people in suits.  There I was, in my jeans and t-shirt, stitching a nipple.  It was actually the perfect thing to be stitching in that environment. It was like, ‘yes dude, I’ve got my boobs over here, it’s all fine folks.’

What a juxtaposition (laughing). 

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For a while, embroidery seemed to be viewed as a lost art form and an antiquated one at that. We generally tend to think of older women embroidering.  So I think people are shocked to see younger women – even men, now taking up this art form.  Even the way they choose to express themselves with it seems to raise eyebrows, and a lot of curiosity.

I’ve been stitching forever and I know a large part of the embroidery community have stitched for a long time as well. When you hear words like “a resurgence,” its’ like, ‘No we’ve always been doing it.

I do think there’s more awareness being brought to it. Hopefully its less in the shadows – hopefully receiving less craft credit and more art credit.

With a rise in popularity, how soon do you think it will be before embroidery kits are being stocked in the novelty section of Urban Outfitters?

I think that would be fun.

I certainly like to create my own work, but if you’re just getting started and see that kit at Urban Outfitters, perhaps you’ll pick up that hoop and have some fun with it… Maybe they start with that kit, have their own take on the product and build into some really innovative ideas.

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I learned my basics from aunts and my grandmothers, but I still take to resources like YouTube to learn more from other people in the stitching community.  At the end of the day, I’m still thinking about how to transform that information into my thing.

I think places like YouTube are great for learning new techniques, but you have to find your own take on it – your own approach to it.  At least those sort of resources are there to start with the fundamentals…

The question is, ‘how do you now incorporate that into your work?’

People on Instagram will comment and ask what stitch I’m using.  I only use backstitch, but it’s the way that I’m using it – people are surprised that that’s the way it ends up looking. Taking something as simple as that stitch and being able to translate it into my work ends up creating this visual that’s my trademark.

Were these skills passed down to you?

As a little kid, I was very crafty.  Both my grandmothers were very much into sewing – they encouraged the habit.  I started making terrible clothes for my Barbie doll. The fabric would be sewn wrong sides together  You’d turn it out and the seam allowance would be all wrong.  Everything would be done with these really long stitches cause I was impatient, I just wanted to do it.  I never thought about how the Barbie doll would then get into the clothes.

It seemed like a natural progression to be in fashion.  During the day I do that, and then at night I don’t want to make clothes anymore – partly because that is part of my day job.  This is a lot more relaxing, to be able to sit and create something.

I still have that same impatience though – I love the beauty of fill stitches but that’s part of the reason I never really incorporate it into my work.  I have an idea and I need to get it out of my head and create it.  fill stitches seem like they’re going to slow me down.  I’ve got too much art to make!

I love that confession. Impatience is such an oxymoron when you think about embroidering.

When I look at your work I’ve always thought , ‘it’s so purposeful in what side of the story you choose to tell by what was meaningfully left out’.  Knowing this now doesn’t make your work any less lovely, it enhances for me. You’ve really made the point that less is sometimes more.

Even when I started with the leather appliques… that happened because I used to make handbags in my spare time, and I had a lot of leather lying around .  I thought, ‘well this could be neat as a mixed medium, so I started playing around with it.’.

Even now, I’ll try to go back and work with some fill stitches, but it’s too slow… I’m so jealous, there are many other artists out there who do incredibly beautiful work with fill stitches.  It’s like, dammit. How do you do that so well?  I know it’s just practice, but I can’t… I got to get the ideas out of my head now.

I think it’s more than just ‘practice’.  Especially after talking to the other artists participating in Stitched.  It has a lot to do with the way the artists sees things and how they translate that.  A perfect stitch is pretty to look at, but perfection can be wearying.

That’s true.  I saw your post on Michelle Kingdom. There’s a great example of someone using fill stitches, but not in this clean, overly perfect way.  It’s got a movement and a romanticism to it.  Her stitching is more painterly.

I always feel like my work is more illustrative versus that painter technique.  Its’ more about clean lines and movement in that sense of after the thread versus following brush strokes.

It’s just another way of expression.

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Fun Facts:

Nicomi Nix Turner: Writhing & Withering @ Paradigm Gallery

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Nicomi Nix Turner’s latest solo exhibition, Writhing & Withering, just opened at Paradigm Gallery + Studio

Turner is usually recognized for her intricately detailed black-and-white graphite illustrations that evoke surreal understandings of the connections between nature, alchemy, mythology, decay and birth.  Here’s a little peek into her latest collection where she tackles a new technique—finishing her works using beeswax, resin, and oil medium that gives the work a dreamy, otherworldly feel.

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In her artist statement for Writhing & Withering, she explains, “Fruit plays the protagonist consumed by both the fearless and ignorant alike.”  Fleshing out tangible realms for her protagonists to flourish in is where Turner’s work turns gorgeously dark and romantic.  In her imaginative places, conjuring desire is left out to rot, worn in defiance, caught sweetly passing the lips and, left dangling from mouths in the midst of subtle revelations.  The works feast on the symbolic devices Turner has carried throughout earlier works – an offering sacrifice for renewal.

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In this realm, “the consumption of fruit leaves mortality withering – holds the eater writhing in hallucinatory suspension.

It recalls me to scenes out of Christina Rossetti’s poem, “Goblin Market”, where fruit is also the protagonist.  The young character Laura, eats the goblins’ fruits and grows older afterwards, but it isn’t by learning and getting wiser.  Laura has eaten the fruit and now she knows its taste, but it damages her in a way. Her craving for the fruit becomes like that of an addict, she writhes as her inability to be satisfied causes her to become completely debilitated.

“I ate my fill, yet my mouth waters still”, Rossetti’s Laura, says desperately and listlessly to her sister – who ultimately becomes her savior.  The problem with the fruit in “Goblin Market” is expressed by Laura herself: “Who knows upon what soil they fed their hungry thirsty roots?” The distinction between good and evil blurs when the juices of the fruit also become what sustains Laura in the end …to take and to give.

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Turner, in turn, explores the cultural and ideological meanings of fruit in celebration of nature and abundance while acknowledging its darker side.

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As you walk around the gallery during her latest solo show at Paradigm Gallery + Studio in Philadelphia, the eyes of the women she has drawn into existence hold your gaze with their eyes, boldly defying you to write another ending for them.

The show’s strength is due in part to the her connection with these women. She knows who they are. The realness of their lives are validated in the details: the wisps of hair that halo about their heads, the crazy pattern work that adorns their clothes, the eyes that take you on explorations of women whose mysteries you want to know.

If their stories still elude you, Turner has evoked her tale into tangible grabs as three-dimensional sculpts of striped fruits grow outside the canvas and further your descent into her story.

“Writhing & Withering” uses devices that carry weight regardless of its subjects’ innate gifts or abilities, all while securing us, the viewer, in a visual inability to be sated.

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†a version of this article was first published on the Paradigm Gallery + Studio  website

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“Writhing & Withering” works by Nicomi Nix Turner
November 18, 2016 – January 7, 2017

Opening Reception
Friday, November 18th • 5:30pm – 10:00pm

Closing Reception
Friday, December 16th • 5:30pm – 10:00pm

Location
Paradigm Gallery + Studio / 746 S. 4th Street, 1st Floor / Philadelphia, PA 19147

Social Media
Instagram: @_fernbeds_
Twitter: @fernbeds

The Kids’ Eye: An Interview with Drew Leshko

The Kids’ Eye is our new series where creative kids interview artists whose work they admire.

We prep — give them tips on proper interviewing etiquette, arm them with a camera and a recorder and then we let them loose.

We’re only there to observe.  The questions are theirs, the interviews haven’t been rewritten to sound like anything other than the probing  journalism of a tween.

Tatianna is 13.  Last summer she stumbled across Philadelphia artist, Drew Leshko’s miniatures at a gallery exhibition.  Her first thought, “Can this really be art?” We assured her it was; she marveled at the possibilities of new mediums she could explore.  Daily Googling marathons turn into allowance fueled trips to craft stores – all efforts to see if she could create her own miniature stories.  When that stopped being enough, we called up Leshko to see if he’d be up for a studio visit.

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Tatianna: So how long does a regular piece take you to do?
Drew Leshko: Well, if we’re talking about buildings, that’s a long process. They take me anywhere from 2 weeks to 3 months, depending on the size of them. If we’re talking about other works, like the dumpsters – those are hard to quantify. They’re my relief when I’m spending two months working on a building, and it’s getting to the point where I want to rip my hair out because I can’t stand looking at them anymore. I take some time off and pull out a little sculpture because I can finish that relatively quickly.

I’ve talked to a lot of different artists and they like to do two pieces at once.
Totally, you have to.

Yeah, it just drives you insane if you don’t.
It keeps you moving at a reasonable rate if you’re trying to be productive, and I am.

Are all your sculptures like…Because I heard you do them from real places. Are they all in Philadelphia?
All the buildings are based on actual buildings in Philadelphia. I start with a photograph that I take and I work to get the main structure of the building. So I’ll get the photograph out and use it to generate all the important parts; like where the beam is, where the awning is going to plug into, where the basement entrance is. After I get the main bones of the building, I put the photograph away. I work off of memory at that point.
A lot of the work has that human element of memory. I’m only trying to make buildings that don’t have that much longer to live because once they’re gone
… They’re gone.

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Did you want to do sculptures of buildings when you first started out as an artist?
No, I made sculptures of water towers — a lot of them. I was making sculptures to become the subjects of photographs I was taking. So, in a gallery setting, there would be both photographs and sculptures.

The idea was to ask the viewer what was going on, essentially — Which came first? Is it a photograph that he’s recreating, or is it a photograph of something that he’s built?

So how did that lead you into buildings?
I moved here (Philadelphia) in 2007 and the environment really informed my work. I think many artists would say that. If you live in the Hudson Valley in Upstate New York, you might be painting trees and fall scenes with the changing leaves.

Yeah… Philadelphia is just full of art. It’s everywhere you look, from graffiti on. Street art is just everywhere.
So, a lot of it came from my environment. A lot of it came from older artwork projects that I admire. Walker Evans, I always speak about him. He was commissioned by President Theodore Roosevelt to document life in the United States after the depression. He went around photographing all these down and out families in the South. He was photographing churches and creating essentially an archive of what was. It’s something real, you and I could go to the Library of Congress now and look at the slides and see portals into life. So, I can’t take photographs, I’m no good at that. I can’t paint…

I think I’m good at a little bit of everything. I can paint really well, I can draw really well, and I can take good photos.
(What you hear now is the ego of a 12-year-old, bearing the confidence that I wish I’d had at that age. Drew is being very patient. Wait, there’s more…)

I think I was born with an artistic side.
You could make a lot of money with those skills.

I think what I was saying; was in the same way that Walker Evans was trying to really capture a feeling and a time period in his project; I’m thinking about my work in the same kind of way.
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Well, if you had to do something different than building your sculptures and your dumpster and your RVs and your water towers, what would you think your options would be?
That’s a tough one.

I am tough – I like it. I want to know everything.
I don’t know if I can answer that. The campers are relatively new for me, I’ve only been working on them for about 2 months. I still have a lot to see through with this project. I plan on having 40 of them.

40? (Astonished)
Not to all be installed at the same place, at the same time.
I’m really interested in artists that pursue serious works, not like an artist that has four paintings and that’s his series – that’s not for me. I want to go over the top until people think it’s totally nuts.

The signs that you put on your buildings, do you copy them and just cut and paste them on?
Some of them I just Google. Most of the time I photograph them on the street, resize them in Photoshop and then I print them out.

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Have you ever thought about teaming up with another artist?
I thought about it, and a lot of people have approached me.

It would be cool if you got that girl who does the Urban Geodes, you know, to put miniature geodes in the bricks of your buildings.
Oh, you mean Paige.
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So what is your favorite piece to create? Is it the buildings, the water towers, the dumpsters or the campers?
I’m really in love with the RV’s right now.

Yeah, they’re neat, I really like them. Have you ever thought about making cars?
I’ve thought about doing some vehicles, but my work is mainly about the temporary relationships we have with things

Like things that aren’t going to be here in 10 or 20 years.
Right. So the buildings…It’s really obvious that they’re not going to be here after a while. For the campers’, maybe the thing that’s not going to be there is their natural environment – like the destinations that you’re traveling to. I think things are shifting in our culture, our ideas about leisure activities.

When I was growing up, my parents had a really crummy Motorhome, and my grandparents had one of these pull behind trailers. We would drive from Baltimore (where I was born) two hours away to the middle of nowhere in Maryland. And we would go to the campgrounds and spend the weekend there. It’s something that I really look back on fondly. It’s a feeling of nostalgia… I think that it’s something people aren’t doing anymore for whatever reason. There’s definitely a new resurgence of camping. There are designer camping shops popping up, but still as a culture, I think something has shifted. I don’t know if I’m right, but it’s something that I’ve been thinking about while doing this work.
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Is it hard working at home? You have a TV down here and the studio space is next to the kitchen – do you get distracted? Do you have any hobbies?
I like to ride bikes but haven’t been able to get around doing that lately.

Anything else? Like learning a new language? You should learn a new language because you’ll need it to open new doors.
You’re right. I should learn German – I’m showing a piece in Berlin soon.

I’m going to learn French. And then I’ll take a trip to Paris.

 

Leskho’s current exhibition Home Is Where Your Park It opens February 26, 2016

Opening Reception
Friday, February 26th • 5:30pm – 10:00pm

Closing Reception
Friday, March 25th • 5:30pm – 10:00pm

Exhibition Hours
Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays • 12:00pm – 6:00pm
And 7 days a week by appointment: info@paradigm-gallery.com / (267)266-0073

Location
Paradigm Gallery + Studio / 746 S. 4th Street, 1st Floor / Philadelphia, PA 19147

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Caitlin McCormack Stitches Together Memory In Her Solo Show MNEMOSYNE

MNEMOSYNE – Mne·mos·y·ne \ni-ˈmä-sə-nē, -zə-\- memory

A memory is what is left when something happens and does not completely unhappen. -Edward de Bono

In a room of silent things, everything whispers as Philadelphia artist, Caitlin McCormack’s solo show Mnemosyne explores the mind’s attempt to reconstruct fragile remnants of memories before they are tainted.

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McCormack sets the tone of the show with various cabinets of curiosities – drawers open to reveal slumbering stitches arranged in categorical boundaries yet to be defined, beveled shadow frames.  Within this realm, McCormack marries found threads to existing pieces, embracing the melancholy of time overlapping memory in her delicate play of intersecting loops. In the crocheted bones of her discordant creations, lay manifestations of resurrected truths and birthed falsehoods; a balance of beguiling recollections arranged in unnatural juxtapositions.

MNEMOSYNE’s sense of fragility underscores a precious attempt to preserve that which has fallen into Obscura – to present a persistence of memory, as new life is stitched together in the parameters of anamnesis where memories live as beautiful fabrications that belie a beginning and beg off an end. There exists a haunting calm within the delicate wisps trying desperately to be more than retired graces of things they never were. ‡

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Menmosyne skeleton

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“It is the second installment in a cycle of exhibitions; an examination of the consequences of my practices, as they pertain to the scrutiny of memory’s authenticity. I am drawn towards a vacuous well of recollection, in which the fibers connecting a network of truths and fabrications fade in and out of darkness, at the bottom of which resides a glimpse of memory’s mass extinction.” – Caitlin McCormack

‡version of this article was originally featured on ParadigmArts.

Mnemosyne is up at Paradigm Gallery until Friday, November 13, 2015.

*Photos courtesy of Jason Chen

‘Intersections’ with Joe Boruchow & Kid Hazo @ Paradigm Gallery

Checking out Joe Boruchow at Intersections.

Checking out Joe Boruchow at Intersections

INTERSECTIONS brings two of Philadelphia’s well-known and loved “street artists”, Kid Hazo (pronounced has•ohh) and Joe Boruchow, to the same room.  Both artists almost solely install their works in the city of Philadelphia cementing themselves as artists who embody the vibe of our city.

Their work catches your attention and drives conversation… Though their approach to the creation and the life of their works couldn’t differ more, their poignant intersecting in this show brings the evolutionary chain of street art full circle: from the urban to the fine art.

Paperclips215 on her Social Media grind / photo by Kendall Whitehouse

Paperclips215 on her Social Media grind / photo by Kendall Whitehouse

Joe Burochow’s work is often punctuated with words you don’t necessarily associate with street art: poignant and elegant.

He gives his intricate paper cutouts a life outside their custom frames, reproducing them as wheat pastes, integrating his pattern play of stories into the city’s architecture.

Hazo’s belief that art is for everyone punctuates our daily interactions with his light-hearted – one step ahead of you – clever pieces that parody the heart of Philly culture. It reminds us not to take life too seriously (and maybe to stick to just one selfie per day if we can).

The point where one crosses the other plays out on the streets where the impact of their work lies with the beholder who might just want to hold on to that feeling a bit longer.

'Unemployed' Kid Hazo / photo by Kendall Whitehouse

‘Unemployed’ Kid Hazo / photo by Kendall Whitehouse

'Exit Stage Left' / Kid Hazo

‘Exit Stage Left’ / Kid Hazo

 

*review seen first at Paradigmarts.org

 

 

 

 

IT HAPPENED THIS SUMMER ON SOUTH STREET…

HAHA MAG isn’t simply a virtual resource for art, we jump into the ring and spread great art throughout our community. Our side project, HAHA x PARADIGM works with street artists that have an active role in giving back through urban beautification.

This summer with the help of South Street Headhouse District and our amazing roster of artists we were able to turn these bland, filthy electrical boxes along the popular stretch in Philly known as South Street into colorful mini murals.

Following Artists are featured: Sophie RoachSean TalaminiNDAClint Tillman ReidJason Andrew TurnerNate HarrisMiriam Singer, and Sean 9 Lugo.

For more pics and behind the scenes action go to HAHAxPARADIGM.ORG

You can take a tour of this project with awesome crowd pics using the hashtag #hahaxpara on Instagram.

Sean Talamini paints his box on 5th & South

Sean Talamini paints his box on 5th and South

Artist: Sean Talamini

Artist: Sean Talamini

Artist Sophie Roach with her box at 2nd & South.

Artist Sophie Roach with her box at 2nd & South.

Artist: Sophie Roach

Artist: Sophie Roach

Clint Tillman Reid working at 7th and South

Clint Tillman Reid working at 7th and South

Artist: Clint Tillman Reid

Artist: Clint Tillman Reid

Nate Harris working on his 4th and South box.

Nate Harris working on his 4th and South box

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Artist: Nate Harris

Sean 9 Lugo getting down on his 7th and South box

Sean9Lugo getting down on his 7th and South box

Artist: Sean9Lugo

Artist: Sean9Lugo

Miriam Singer_HAHAMAG

Artist: Miriam Singer

Jason Andrew Turner at 2nd & South

Jason Andrew Turner at 2nd & South

Artist: Jason Andrew Turner

Artist: Jason Andrew Turner

NDA whipping up some magic at 6th & South

NDA whipping up some magic at 6th & South

Artist: NDA

Artist: NDA

For more pics and behind the scenes action go to HAHAxPARADIGM.ORG

You can take a tour of this project with awesome crowd pics using the hashtag #hahaxpara on Instagram.

Top 5 Art Shows of 2014

There was no polling of art aficionados, no pouring over magazines or newspaper reviews, and there’s definitely no big ballin’ art plays for likability listed below.  These shows made the list because I visited them more than once (that rarely ever happens) or my sensibilities were totally confounded by the creativity.  Shows that make that kind of impression can provide a year’s worth of conversational tidbits and a measure to which you might hold all others.  Aw, enough with that…these shows rocked my 2014.

Spring Break Art Show

It’s fun, fresh, and daring like newly graduated art school minds before they get crushed and compromised. This curator driven show, gets set up in an old schoolhouse during Armory Arts Week in New York. Yes, we know it’s technically an art fair. But the 2014 show, PublicPrivate won us over with installations that we talked up all-year-long.

Kara Walker: A Subtlety or the Marvelous Sugar Baby

Kara Walker’s Installation at the Domino Sugar Factory in Brooklyn was a “homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World on the Occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant.” The exhibit was mind-blowing – from the overwhelmingly beautiful conceptual execution of the sugar-coated sphinx-like woman, to the very unexpected nauseating smell of burnt sugar permeating the hot factory.

A photo posted by @hahamag on

Swoon: Submerged Motherlands

Swoon’s intricate wheat-paste portraits normally grace New York buildings, but for Motherlands she went large-scale, telling landscaped stories against a backdrop of dramatically blue washed walls in the Brooklyn Museum rotunda. The star of the show was the massive sculptural tree that nearly kissed the rotunda’s 72 foot high glass domed ceiling.

David Lynch: The Unified Field

Lynch’s grime aesthetics found solace at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia (PAFA), where he studied as an advanced painting student in 1967. The exhibit explored Lynch’s hybrid collection of works, displaying a delicate balance from disturbing narratives to richly descriptive lithographs. Unified Field is his world of opposites that he wanders in and out of at will.

Interhaven: The Works of Caitlin McCormack

McCormack’s sorted things in shadowboxes lay posed and gracefully still as if they once knew air – their layers of articulated overlapping crocheted beige string bones resembled the things they never were. The show’s curio layout carried a pleasantly haunting tone, but it was the lingering of McCormack’s stored memories seen through these tangible manifestations of contained dreams and nightmares that left me feeling domed under her bell jars.

*thank you to paperclips215 & Paradigm Gallery for the use of their Instagram Photos

HAHA X PARADIGM BRINGS IN ARTISTS TO CREATE NEW MURALS IN QUEEN VILLAGE

Philly got three new art installations over Labor Day weekend.

My Dog Sighs, Calo Buscanigua and Kelly Kozma dropped some amazing work between 3rd and 5th on Bainbridge in the Queen Village section of Philadelphia.  The 3 artists beautifully rehabbed three neglected junction boxes as part of a community beautification project with HAHA x Paradigm in collaboration with the Queen Village Neighborhood Association.

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UK artist My Dog Sighs left his trademark haunting eyes and water droplets.

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Fun Fact: The lyrics to UB40’s song ‘One in Ten’ are painted around My Dog’s box as a thoughtful observation on the homeless that often sat on benches near his box in the evenings.

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My Dog Sighs paints a Philly skyline reflection.

Calo Buscanigua shared some cherished images from his hometown in El Salvador.

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These beautiful colors are a homage to the vibrancy of the shantytowns in El Salvador.

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Kelly Kozma showed her burgeoning love of street art with a cute quirky take on yarnbombing.

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UK Street Artist My Dog Sighs Is Coming To Philly

We’re excited to announce that our new HAHAxParadigm artist in residence is none other than, acclaimed UK street artist, My Dog Sighs.

His unconventional Houdini act of crushing lifeless cans and then transforming them into stunning and often funny portraitures first caught our attention.  These painted faces with haunting eyes full of lifelike emotions do not typically sit on walls like other installs but rather on the ground waiting for attention. They’ve become his trademark, garnering him a loyal worldwide fan base and international success on the contemporary art scene.

MDS is also known to many for his championing of public art as the founder of Free Art Friday, a non-profit project that allows artists the liberty to create work free from the constraints of commerce. Artists create special pieces that get placed outside in random locations to be discovered and taken home. It’s the exhilarating aspect of an unexpected approach to a random walk in your neighborhood that has pushed the growth of his 10 year devotion project on to other cities.

This August he will bring his Free Art Friday project to Philadelphia – the project is meant to unite the artist community in a common goal, so we encourage all who’d like to participate in the project to do so.  If you spot any MDS pieces around Philly next week, make sure to use the hashtags: #phillyfreeartfriday #hahaxpara so everyone can play along.

While he is in Philly, MDS has promised to leave a wide range of his work in our hometown before heading to Chicago for his next project in the states.  On Saturday, August 30th, come out and watch My Dog SighsCalo Buscante and Kelly Kozma paint together for a special community project in the Queens Village area.  Afterwards, we invite you to join us back at Paradigm Gallery + Studio at 5pm for a fun panel discussion moderated by Streets Dept, along with our special panel guest Robert Perry from the Philly Street Art Mecca, Tattooed Mom.

The panel discussion is free, but please click below to reserve your ticket so we can estimate how much space we need.

Can’t make it to the event?

Watch the livestream on Ustream.tv/channel/haha-mag. Livestream starts at 5pm EST on August 20th, 2014.

 

Facebook event 

Get your free ticket for our panel discussion here.

 

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X-O BRINGS HIS LOST OBJECTS TO PHILLY

X-O just left Philly, but left behind one of his Lost Objects pieces. His artwork is made of found, recycled objects, which he gathers while roaming streets and then transforms them into these striking, geometric assemblages.

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This past week, HAHA MAG & Paradigm Gallery + Studio had the pleasure of hosting two great artists X-O aka. @ihyland and Amanda Marie aka. @seeyouthroughit who’ve been touring around leaving behind beautiful art installations at every tour leg for a two great causes. We’ve had a blast seeing it all come together and are so happy that they included us as part of their Philadelphia journey.

This is a really beautiful way to raise awareness for their Indiegogo campaign – more information at BeautifulTimes.net and follow full coverage of their travels at bkstreetart.

Lauren Rinaldi: At Arm’s Length

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At Arm’s Length is where most of us keep the true estimation of ourselves. Lauren Rinaldi explores all this and takes a good look at body image, sexuality and self-identity using unbiased self-portraits that chronicle her life through the changes in her body and mental state. She explores our seemingly embraced imperfections – using layers to thinly veil what she consciously chooses to hold back – projecting an identity with the allure of control all the while revealing to the viewer the truths we unwittingly hide from ourselves. The show surprises in its’ subtly – shifting focus, from what we hide to what we show. Her series of whimsical sketches find a connection in the new language we’ve patterned off our need to flaunt the personal assessment of our bodies within the realm of our day-to-day digital landscapes.

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“How you see yourself and what you choose to show the world are two completely different things,” Rinaldi says. She has indeed found complimenting mediums to observe the nature of women seeking affirmation under the guise of anonymity.

At Arm’s Length is on view now at Paradigm Gallery + Studio until August 9th, 2014.

Find the artist on Instagram:
@laurinaldi @paradigmgs
#LaurenRinaldi #AtArmsLength