In the Queens Museum parking lot, Cuban-American artist Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada (previously) has painted a 20,000-square-foot mural as both an act of gratitude to Latinx healthcare workers, who have risked their own safety to care for others, and a nationwide call to action.
These are the people that make our city move, the people that care for us. These are the people that contribute socially, culturally, and economically to the nation… In the year 2020, where hindsight should not be clearer, it is amazing to me that we must continue to ask ourselves…how it is that minorities today still have to suffer the same injustices of the minorities of the past(?)
“Somos La Luz,” or “We Are The Light,” is a large-scale rendering of Dr. Ydelfonso Decoo, a pediatrician who died when fighting the virus in New York City. Rodríguez-Gerada hopes to draw attention to the disproportionate number of COVID-19 cases among Latinx and Black populations across the United States, in addition to the alarming rates of infection in Queens, one of the city’s epicenters for the virus.
In an Instagram post about the project, Rodríguez-Gerada said presenting the masked figure on such a massive scale reflects the enormity of the issue. “This artwork ‘Somos La Luz’ strives to give deeper meaning to the loss of each life,” the artist writes. “It strives to make evident the importance of every life as well as to value the amazing contribution of migrant people.”
Animation director Patrick Smith ingeniously interchanges a variety of pills, capsules, and syringes with similarly shaped candy in a vertiginous new short film. Parodying the ubiquity of modern pharmaceutical use, “Candy Shop” opens by noting that there are a staggering 11,926 prescription drugs available to consumers. Smith shows only 2,863 as he juxtaposes them with individually wrapped sweets, boxes of Gobstoppers, and rolls of Hubba Bubba Tape, which are eerily comparable in size, shape, and color.
How would you biologically classify a hippogriff? Austin-based illustrator Chet Phillips is offering his own taxonomic studies for some of pop culture’s most iconic characters as part of his Unnatural History series. Through vintage-style illustrations, the artist renders a flying monkey from The Wizard of Oz, Krampus, and The Lion King‘s animated duo Timon and Pumba complete with their identifying information.
You can browse the entire Unnatural History collection and pick up your own print on Etsy. Phillips also shares much of his work that’s based in contemporary culture on Behance and Instagram. (via Laughing Squid)
Barbies have garnered attention for years because of their unrealistic proportions, lack of diversity, and gendered activities. Despite some noteworthy changes, Tonya Ruiz, a former model turned toy designer, thought the usual selection of lavishly dressed and accessorized dolls could use another update that’s a little more timely. “When the quarantine started and I saw a couple of funny pandemic Barbies, I thought that I should make a Barbie that everyone could relate to. I created the quarantine starter pack: curvy doll in stretchy pants,” Ruiz says about the self-inspired doll that spurred the makeovers in a recent video.
Known as Grandma Gets Real, Ruiz has been creating parodic sets that highlight some of the most relatable quarantine activities. There’s a quarreling couple that has a plethora of cleaning products, a cast-iron of eggs, and a just-out-of-reach guide detailing how to divvy up chores. A scrubs-wearing nurse is complete with a miniature lab coat, X-rays, and thermometer, while bread-baking Barbie is covered in a white dusting of flour.
Ruiz shares updates of her toy spoofs on Instagram, in addition to close-ups of her miniature essentials, snacks, and quarantine activities. You also might enjoy these fake toys deposited on store shelves by Obvious Plant. (via designboom)
A defiant middle finger, a heap of sunflower seeds, and various mythical creatures are all silk-screened in black ink on the blue cloth backdrops of nonsurgical masks. The artworks the most recent intervention by artist and activist Ai Weiwei (previously) to help raise money for organizations directly involved with combating the coronavirus pandemic.
Inspired by a documentary he’s making about COVID-19, the artist decided to create an entire collection after printing his iconic middle finger onto one of the disposable cloths. “An individual wearing a mask makes a gesture; a society wearing masks combats a deadly virus. And a society that wears masks because of the choices of individuals, rather than because of the directive of authorities, can defy and withstand any force. No will is too small and no act too helpless,” he writes on Instagram. While masks have become a ubiquitous symbol for the COVID-19 crisis, many of the inky renderings hearken back to Ai’s ongoing commitment to humanitarian efforts.
Hand-printed in the artist’s Berlin studio, the newly released face coverings are sold singularly and in groups of four and twenty. They’re available for purchase through June 27 on eBay, and proceeds will be split equally between Human Rights Watch, Refugees International, and Doctors Without Borders. (via Artsy)
View this post on Instagram
Steve Benjamin generally uses his background in Zoology to capture the underwater lives of sharks, whales, and dolphins. But due to quarantine restrictions spurred by the ongoing threat of COVID-19—South Africa has imposed some of the strictest regulations in the world because a high percentage of the population has compromised immune systems—the Cape Town-based photographer has shifted his focus to the feathered animals visiting his backyard.
Sunbirds is a stunning series of portraits captured using the same techniques as underwater photography. Benjamin tells Colossal he established a miniature studio for his avian visitors by positioning a feeder in a small sunny area with nearby shade, plenty of blooming flowers, and twig perches. “This is a studio setting for wild birds that are free to come and go as they please,” the photographer says.
To ensure the backdrop was dark, he used shutter speeds of 1/2,000 of a second and mounted additional lights to illuminate the vibrant intricacies of the feathers, feet, and bills. “The birds did not like flash photography so I have to figure out how to get constant light onto them with my underwater video lights,” he writes. “I had to get the birds used to being close to bright lights, which took a while.”
You can see the full series on Benjamin’s site, in addition to a deep dive into his process and equipment in the video below. He also shares an array of wildlife shots on his Instagram. (via PetaPixel)
Misato Sano ensures that she always has a loyal companion by her side, albeit with a little less slobber and fur. Based in the Myagi prefecture of Japan, the sculptor carves wooden busts and full figures of well-groomed dogs, preferring to leave the small gouges from her chisel on their textured exteriors. Despite being stationary, the pups have typical canine qualities like plump bodies, panting tongues, and pink bows adorning their ears.
Each figure has a distinct facial expression, whether curious, joyful, or contemplative. “When I make a work, I express the multifacetedness of a woman (myself and an object of admiration) as a dog,” she said in a statement. “Dogs are always loyal to their masters. I make my work with the hope (that) they will also nuzzle up to their audience.”
To dive deeper into Sano’s process and see some of the real-life canines that inspire her sculptural works, head to Instagram, and check out her forays in ceramics, embroidery, and drawing on her site. You also might enjoy these carved pets by Gerard Mas.