Crystal Morey TAKES OVER Beautiful Bizarre

Every month Beautiful Bizarre Magazine chooses one of our favourite artists to TAKE OVER social media for the day. For April, we chose Crystal Morey to share with us the artists who have inspired her through her artistic career. Just in case you missed it, below we present the full TAKE OVER.

Crystal Morey// Hi, I’m Crystal Morey, an artist living and working in Oakland, California. Today I am your host for the Beautiful Bizarre Instagram takeover and I’m excited to share seven of my favourite inspirational artists.

I love artistic creations that share fantastical visions, strong environmental narratives and question our human role in this quickly changing world. I am so happy to be here and to share some of my favourite artists and creative thinkers. I hope you will follow along!

Jennybird Alcantara// The first artist I selected is Jennybird Alcantara. Jennybird’s ability to paint and her use of luscious fantastical details reminds me of my favorite painters in art history but with her own contemporary narrative of today.

Jennybird writes on her website:

“My work explores mystery, transformation and the sacred. Existing between a waking and dream state, the archetypal anthropomorphic creatures that are a part of my visual language attempt to illuminate the invisible threads of connection between sentient beings and the environments they inhabit. Depictions of Flora and Fauna integrated with the human and animal characters serve as metaphor for the connections between all living things; Darkness and light are at constant play and I try to maintain a tender balance between the two.”

Kate Clark// My second artist I would like to share is Kate Clark. Kate uses the traditional techniques of taxidermy stretched over human form to create hyper-realistic human/animal hybrids.

On Kate’s website, she writes:

“When encountering my sculptures I ask the viewer for an instinctive and primal reaction that examines our humanity.”

“The human race evolved culturally but not physically, creating conflicting impulses between mind and body. As our identities become abstracted, there is a tug of war between the desire for a civilized, culturally advanced life vs. an intuitive, instinctive, fearless life.”

“The fusion of human and animal that I create presents a fiction suggesting that our human state is fully realized when we acknowledge both our current programming and our natural instincts. I emphasize the characteristics that separate us within the animal kingdom, and, importantly, the ones that unite us.”

“The wild animal hide I use has an energy and presence like no other material. I shave sections of the animal’s skin to reveal porous and oily features that we recognize as our own. Stitched over a hand-sculpted human face, the material quality of the skin brings believability to the final sculpture: they are portraits we relate to. I emphasize the seams so that the faces are obviously reconstructed yet they are not monstrous, they are approachable, calm, dignified, majestic. The viewer has an intimate relationship with the face and then identifies with the full animal, acknowledging the animalistic inheritance within the human condition.”

Wookjae Maeng // The third artist I’m highlighting is Wookjae Maeng. Wookjae uses traditional ceramic techniques to create porcelain sculptures that talk about the contemporary changing world and our tenuous relationship to the environment around us. His impeccable detail and minimal use of color aim to highlight the delicate balance in this fragile world.

On his website, he states:

“I concentrate on art as a vehicle to communicate contemporary social and environmental problems to the viewer by stimulating, not just emotion, but sensibilities and memories. In this regard, ‘stimulus’ plays an import role in the expression of my work and in its perception by the viewer. Visually or sensually appropriate stimuli evoke curiosity in the viewer and their desire to grasp the inner meanings of the work. Within this process the viewer not only intellectually comprehends the work but also viscerally appreciates it if their preconceptions are challenged or senses other than sight are stimulated. This three dimensional appreciation-which engages the viewer both physically and sensually-I believe conveys the message of a work on a deeper level.”

“In our environment, numerous creatures live in harmony. Yet there are other creatures that merely exist without enjoying their natural right due to human classification and negligence. I would like to express the nature of the relationship between human and other creatures-a relationship that, in other to thrive, demands careful coexistence and balance between the urban and the natural, for example, and an awareness and empathy for less visible creatures. In my work I hope to provide an opportunity-however brief-for modern man to consider the realities of the environment in which he exists, even as he continues his daily existence indifferent to it.”

Kate MacDowell// The fourth artist I would like to share is Kate MacDowell. Kate uses the delicate and translucent material of fine porcelain to create telling and realistic sculptures that talk about our human relationship to the world around us.

Kate describes her work on her website, writing:

“In my work this romantic ideal of union with the natural world conflicts with our contemporary impact on the environment.  These pieces are in part responses to environmental stressors including climate change, toxic pollution, and gm crops.  They also borrow from myth, art history, figures of speech and other cultural touchstones.  In some pieces aspects of the human figure stand-in for ourselves and act out sometimes harrowing, sometimes humorous transformations which illustrate our current relationship with the natural world.  In others, animals take on anthropomorphic qualities when they are given safety equipment to attempt to protect them from man-made environmental threats.  In each case the union between man and nature is shown to be one of friction and discomfort with the disturbing implication that we too are vulnerable to being victimized by our destructive practices.”

“I hand sculpt each piece out of porcelain, often building a solid form and then hollowing it out.  Smaller forms are built petal by petal, branch by branch and allow me the chance to get immersed in close study of the structure of a blossom or a bee.  I chose porcelain for its luminous and ghostly qualities as well as its strength and ability to show fine texture.  It highlights both the impermanence and fragility of natural forms in a dying ecosystem, while paradoxically, being a material that can last for thousands of years and is historically associated with high status and value.  I see each piece as a captured and preserved specimen, a painstaking record of endangered natural forms and a commentary on our own culpability.”

Lisa Ericson// The fifth artist is the painter Lisa Ericson. Lisa paints imagined animals and their intertwined relationships. Creating tiny, mobile, ecosystems, showing that we are all dependent on each other for the well-being of our environment.

On her website, Lisa writes:

“My ideas are often science-inspired, but with a surreal twist. I may read or hear about a scientific or environmental phenomenon and it provides a kernel of inspiration which can lead to a painting or an entire series. I use the black background to create the drama of the spotlight on my chosen subject. It singles them out, exposes their every tiny detail, and creates a void of the unknown around them. In that way, each piece becomes an intimate portrait. I think of the animals in my paintings as simultaneously representing the natural world and also reflecting our own human struggle and emotion. I like to draw parallels between the two.”

Nicomi Nix Turner // The sixth artist I’m sharing is Nicomi Nix Turner. Nicomi uses the simplicity of black and white, light and shadow to capture the complexity of human emotion and an intimate connection with the plants and creatures all around us.

On Nicomi’s website, it states:

“Nicomi’s detailed works invoke a surreal understanding of the perfection in nature, the imperfections of self and delve into connections between nature, mythology, decay and birth.”

“The works capture the coexistence of life and decay in a bouquet of fungi, personified insects, bones, flesh and fauna. In an orchestra of hyper-textured saturation, each piece is a cacophony of silent movement and erratic soliloquies.”

Robin Whiteman// The seventh artist I selected is sculptor Robin Whiteman. In these intimate porcelain sculptures, Robin creates contemporary works of personal narrative and art historical inspiration. These creations have a feeling of timelessness, as magical relics of the past, although sharing hints of today’s complicated environmental struggles.

Robin writes on her site:

“This body of work was created over the course of a year. In that time, I have witnessed a parent’s struggle with dementia and the blossoming of a teenage daughter. I have watched the culture and landscape of America change in alarming ways. I have held a newborn. I have sold my first piece to a permanent gallery collection and been photographed with a celebrity on Miami Beach. I have both homeschooled my child and driven her to school for the first time in five years. I have experienced the terror of a cancer diagnosis and surprising changes to my body as the result of treatment. I have lost friends who couldn’t bear the pain of witnessing my pain. I have comforted my sister through her cancer treatment. I have danced at a friend’s seventies inspired wedding and eaten chanterelles and venison that my husband harvested from the hill where we live.”

“I am and am not the same person I was a year ago.”

“What remains unchanged?”

This was the last piece chosen by Crystal Morey for her TAKE OVER. Thank you again Crystal, we really appreciate you taking the time to put this day together.


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