Portia Munson

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The work of multi-disciplinary artist Portia Munson.  Her solo exhibition, The Garden, opens January 12th at PPOW Gallery in New York.

Working in a variety of media, including sculpture, painting, photography, and installation, Munson creates works that evaluate contemporary society, our environment, and the objects we choose to surround ourselves with, viewed through the lens of feminism.  The exhibition brings together work created from the 1990s through today, shedding light on the way Munson observes and organizes her everyday world.  The works are a commentary on the fleeting nature of time, the fragility of life, the representation of women, and our cultural obsession with disposable objects.  

To see more of her work, click here

*images and text from PPOW Gallery’s site

Naima Green

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“As a child, I watched as my parents tended to our flower and vegetable gardens. My home in Westchester, only 25 minutes outside New York City, was enveloped in lush greenery that made me feel at ease. I can still see the golden tomatoes, dwarf irises, and my dad’s famous collard greens; fragrant beds of thyme, verbena, and mint propagated right outside the back door. My backyard is not the typical narrative associated with blackness. I longed to see my experience reflected in the media, but never did. What I saw instead were black and brown bodies in rough, hard, and aggressive spaces. Contemporary American audiences are often comfortable seeing brown faces this way: in desolate, concrete spaces that can, and frequently do, suggest decay.

Jewels from the Hinterland explores this absence. Since 2013, I have photographed over 80 subjects who identify as multi-disciplinary artists of color, making portraits of creative individuals in and around New York City, in which black and brown figures anchor overgrown fields with abstract forms and vibrant colors. This series investigates questions of place, belonging, and perceived cultural identity within urban diasporic communities. As nature grows around the individuals, so does the city landscape, like a continuous grid. I make images of these artists feeling at ease in natural green spaces, regions where black and brown urbanites are not “supposed” to be at home: our hinterlands.

I seek to complicate narratives of blackness by documenting our presences in lush, green spaces, rejecting singular representations of black people as dehumanized caricatures, sexual objects, and slaves. The images I compose offer visualizations of leisure, vulnerability, refuge, and my experience of home. As an artist and educator, I am convinced by the power of arts-based storytelling. I make work that is expansive, work that adds to our emerging historical narrative, work that investigates nuance, and work that listens and responds.”

To see more of Naima Green’s work click here

**Images taken from http://naimagreen.tumblr.com/

**statement taken from http://www.naimagreen.com/

Danni Lin

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Danni Lin is an artist and painter living and working in Brooklyn, NY. She got her BFA from The San Francisco Art Institute in 2013, and has continued to show in southern California since. See more of her work here.

*All images from artist’s website

John Dante Bianchi

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The work of Brooklyn-based artist John Dante Bianchi.  Bianchi currently has a solo show, Unavoidable Encounter, on view at Denny Gallery in New York.

His bodies of work- the Bruised Panels, Torqued Panels, and Relief Panels- refer in name to the physical process of their making. Bianchi’s wall-based works are both sculpture and painting, emerging from the wall or built in many layers and exactingly constructed all the way through, from stretcher to support to surface. Much of Bianchi’s work explores the ideation of the piece as a body (an object) with a skin (a surface), which is exposed to forces of time and events leaving their mark. The Bruised Panels, for example, are speckled with colors that directly reference skin tones and bruises: pinks and blues and creams.  They are built up in layers and sanded down to reveal textures and colors underneath.

To see more of his work, click here

*images from artist’s site + text from Denny Gallery

Ariel Jackson

Ariel Jackson is a Black American artist originally from Louisiana, currently living and working in Brooklyn, NY. Jackson’s work pulls from her personal narrative of having experienced Hurricane Katrina, growing up on a farm, childhood aesthetics, and information regarding black lives in the face of tragedy and catastrophe.

Jackson uses her personal experiences as a base to build and explore historical, personal, and social perceptions of The blues. Her mediums of interest are video, animation, and sculpture which she uses to contextualize narrative and physical translations of intellectual and historical information into lyrical forms.

“The blues was conceived…if not as the result of a personal or intellectual experience, at least as an emotional confirmation of, and reaction to, the way in which most Negroes were still forced to exist in the United States.”

Blues People by LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka)

“The blues is an impulse to keep the painful details and episodes of a brutal experience alive in one’s aching consciousness, to finger its jagged gain, and to transcend it, not by the consolation of philosophy but by squeezing from it a near-tragic, near-comic lyricism. As a form, the blues is an autobiographical chronicle of personal catastrophe expressed lyrically.”

– Ralph Ellison (Author of The Invisible Man)

To see more of Ariel Jackson’s work click here

 

*images and bio from http://arielrenejackson.com/

Alice Tippit

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Alice Tippit is a painter living and working in Chicago, Illinois. You can see more of her work here.

*All images from artist’s website

 

Studio Visit : Open Windows Cooperative

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Open Windows Cooperative (OWC) was founded by Ava Sayaka Rosen of four eyes press and Alexandra Jane Williams of Triangle House.  Open Windows’ mission is to be a safe space, community space and creative space.  Located in the Bayview district of San Francisco, they offer letterpress and bookbinding facilities, and hold sacred space for ritual and contemplation.  OWC is committed to open sharing of ideas, skills, and support.

I’ve wanted to collaborate on a project with Alexandra for ages now; ever since I sewed curtains for her enormous studio windows, I’ve been dreaming about this space and the magic that is made within.  It’s remarkable how organically the studio has morphed into a shared space and creative partnership- Ava and Alexandra have the kind of tranquil, inquisitive creative partnership that is simply a joy to observe. We recently spent a Sunday afternoon snacking on Pocky and pamplemousse LaCroix, taking photos in their airy, gorgeous studio and brainstorming a lunar calendar collaboration.  Read on to learn more about OWC, then head over to the shop to snag one of the limited edition calendar prints!

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How long have you been in this space? Tell me about creating a shared studio and how you navigate that relationship/space.

Alexandra moved in July of 2014. When Ava moved into the space in March of this year, we decided to combine our resources, with a letterpress/bookbinding workshop on one side and meeting/ritual/plants/dance/dreaming space on the other. It was pretty seamless because we’ve been friends since we were 17 and shared living spaces in the past. But the space has steadily evolved and gone through transformations based on shifts in our priorities. It really is so much more than a workspace for us–it’s a safe space and a sacred space.

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How did Open Windows develop? What do you each bring to the relationship?

 Open Windows developed when we started looking at our space as less of a personal workspace and more for its community building potential, which we realized was the crux of our mission. We became less interested, and even resistant to, production– making things– and more interested in process and experience-based projects/endeavors. We both feel nourished by how much we learn from working with other artists. Our most recent collaboration, a solo art show with Mia Christopher, felt really successful and supportive. We had started developing the show in October and were pretty far down one path when the election happened; everything changed after that. Because we were all flexible and open, it was easy to pivot the show into a fundraiser for Planned Parenthood, then into a silent auction. We plan to build on the success of that event, which I think can be attributed to the mutual support each of us brought to the process.

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How do you approach collaborative projects? Tell me about your process.

The projects are based around creative relationships we want to build with other individuals. We are so inspired by people in our community, and want to give them a platform for sharing work in an alternative setting. So far they have all been women visual artists, but we are also interested in collaborating with artists of other media, and also with healers, activists, and people doing earth-based work. From our initial meeting with that person (full of free association and grand visions) unfolds the project, whether that be a collaboratively-made object, a gallery show, or a workshop. Projects inevitably evolve in planning stages and we strive to honor that process. I’d also return to the concept of mutual support. We laugh about the fact that we sort of read each other’s minds, which makes it easy to step in and help when it’s needed! So far we haven’t really had to delegate tasks or project manage, we just make to-do lists and each commit/contribute to getting things done.

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What do you listen to/watch in the studio?

 Nina Simone, Kate Bush, Heart, George Harrison, Bowie, Broken Water, Dead Moon (Toody forever!), Arthur Russel, mixtapes… love those Mississippi Records comps. So far no watching, but we aspire to having a projector and movie nights!

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When do you work best?

 We’re morning people. And there’s nothing better than morning light in our studio!

 

Favorite part of the process?

The sense of empowerment we give and receive. There is nothing more gratifying than sharing support and excitement with a group of people who made the decision to show up and take action. It’s incredible how a little output of energy from us then gets magnified into a huge wave, and we all get to ride the wave.

 

Least favorite?

Perpetually dealing with material “stuff.” The running joke is that we are professionals at acquiring, moving, and getting rid of stuff.

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Dream project?

Land-based work. We dream of having our own land, of finding a community with a need that we can fill.  There’s a lot to this vision, and it’s ever evolving as we get older and hone in on who we really are, but one nugget that we love to muse about is a sustainable bath house. Much of the vision revolves around regeneration, healing (of the land and ourselves), and sustainable creative practices that fill a void.

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Click here to shop our exclusive lunar calendar, designed and printed by Open Windows Cooperative.

Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir

Hrafnhildur Arnardottir

 

I’ve definitely never seen anything like the work of Icelandic-born artist Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir a.k.a. Shoplifter.  She creates incredible multi-colored landscapes of synthetic hair like the one above currently on view at the Queensland Museum of Modern Art titled Nervescape V.  This massive installation is made up of modacrylic fiber, nylon zip ties, and steel staples!

Humor plays a large roll in her life and work, sometimes subtly, but other times taking over. This humor extends to her love of playing with the juxtaposition of opposites. Like with her hair pieces- they appear beautiful evoking natural forms and plant life, but at the same time hair is considered grotesque and disturbing when it is not attached to the body, like hair in the shower drain. [...]  For Shoplifter hair is the ultimate thread that grows from our body. Hair is an original, creative fiber, a way for people to distinguish themselves as individuals, and often an art form. 

To see more, click here

**all images and quoted text from artist’s website

Jay’s Gift Guide

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It’s been a rough year, take care and treat yourself.

Barby Top: This mock neck top with 3/4 length sleeves is cut in the coziest cotton French terry, perfect way to stay comfy and stylish in 2017.

Ray necklace: This Sunshine inspired necklace can brighten up the gloomiest of days.

Halo Ring: The openness of the Halo ring makes a beautiful every day staple item, it’s my favorite piece of jewelry.

Blackberry Lollipops: Whether you are 5 or 55 these blackberry lollipops are just the kind of sweetness 2017 needs! They are made with Oregon grown blackberries (look for the seeds!)

Salt + Rose Soak: 2016 has been rough, this soak is the perfect detox for the days you need a little extra love and self care.

Teakwood & Tabacco Soy Candle: Even your personal space needs a lil care, this candle provides the best scent combination to give your space a that lil extra helping hand.

Pink Clay Mask: 2017 may call for some thicker skin but your skin should always be soft & glowing regardless, use this mask to achieve a bright soft glow

Gina’s Gift Guide

 

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It’s that time of year again, y’all. All I want for the holidays is raw materials and natural ingredients!

GINA’S GIFT GUIDE

Hoop Brush: This hand brush is functional and aesthetically pleasing.  Made of unfinished maple and horsehair, use it to tidy up any surface, then hang it somewhere for all to see.

Brass Comb: Technically this is a ‘beard comb’, but it makes a great travel-sized comb for all hair! It’s got quite a nice weight to it.

Cast Bronze Spoon: This little beauty is cast from a lost-wax mold in solid brass. It’ll dress up your table no matter what you’re scooping!

Gingham Linen Tea Towel: Linen is the best fabric. It’s durable, absorbent, and only gets softer with time. I’m a sucker for these classic earth-tones, but check out all the other colors it comes in, too!

Palo Santo Sticks: Palo Santo has been used for ages in South America as an incense and energy cleanser. Light it, blow it out, and let it smolder – the aroma is earthy and deep.

Handmade Herbal Soap: I love all of the scents we have from The Greater Goods. Handmade by one Bay Area woman, each batch is made from scratch with natural ingredients and essential oils.

Dendritic Opal Necklace: If you’ve never worn this type of Opal, now is the time! Dendritic opal is an opaque white with veins of grey and black. I often refer to it as ‘Milk Opal’, and it’s currently my favorite gemstone. This necklace is handmade on a 14k gold fill chain.

Charcoal & Mint Salt Soak: Activated charcoal for detoxification, mint for invigoration, sea salt for cleansing and softening – I don’t think I could ask for much more in a bath soak.

Ossuary Unisex Perfume: Truthfully, I’m a bit hesitant to share this one, as it’s been my signature perfume for almost a year now! I absolutely love its deep, earthy, woody scent – it’s certainly not your Grandma’s perfume. I also think it’s perfectly androgynous, and would be lovely on any gender.

French Press Travel Mug: It’s winter! We all need our beverages! And they better stay hot! Any time, any place, just put your loose leaf tea or coffee grounds beneath the built-in plunger in this cup, pour in some hot water, and press – go ahead and have a sip of that, babes.