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When Paintings Become Sculptures: Jaime Keiter’s Frank Stella–Inspired Ceramics

When Jaime Keiter made a move to Atlanta last year, she decided it was time focus on her artwork, which included a series of simple, geometric pencil drawings on paper. “Moving to a new place gave me a new perspective on life, and I had less pressure to make art that was formulaic,” explains Keiter. After a friend suggested they join a ceramic studio on a whim, Keiter’s vision for her one-of-a-kind ceramic sculptures became fully formed. “I had been thinking of a way to make paintings that are unexpected — in a medium other than paper and wood. In the ceramics studio, it all sort of clicked."
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Bryan Metzdorf’s Sunday Morning Sketches

If you're a creative who's ever had a day job, you will no doubt understand the plight of Bryan Metzdorf, the full-time Urban Outfitters set-builder who, despite also doing freelance projects on the side for brands like Areaware and The Greats, still can't help but spend his Sundays at home working — on the weekly collage series he posts on Instagram with the hashtag "#sundaymorningsketches."
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English Artist Henry Jackson Newcomb

While many of his peers are busy creating digital landscapes of shapes and planes that mimic three dimensions, the young Norwich, England–based artist Henry Jackson Newcomb makes sculptural assemblages that — owing in part to the aforementioned trend — often look inspired by digital ones. Yet by incorporating elements like chunks of concrete, panels painted with unfinished-looking brushstrokes, and haphazardly taped rings of rubber tubing, Newcomb introduces an imperfect rawness that keeps his work squarely rooted in the physical world.
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Alex Ebstein, Artist

Balance balls, dumbbells, pool noodles — is the recent incorporation of exercise equipment into the visual arts part and parcel with normcore or is it something more? The latest adherent to the trend is Baltimore-based artist Alex Ebstein, who works with a variety of materials — most notably yoga mats — but in Ebstein's hands, those basic materials become less trendy and more textural. Her brightly colored canvases resemble something Matisse may have constructed had his cut-out phase occurred during the Memphis movement. Bold and graphic from afar, the works are delightfully tactile upon closer inspection. Her use of slightly irregular grids and geometric constructions is contrasted with the addition of ambiguous organic shapes cut from yoga mats that are then inlayed or applied to her compositions. If you are in the Baltimore area, you can see her MFA show at Towson University's Holtzman Art Gallery until May 9th.
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Chad Kouri, artist

Chad Kouri took his first freelance design gig at the tender age of just 15, but like most creatives, Kouri had trouble at first striking a balance between paying the bills and pursuing his passions. “I moved to Chicago after high school to study design, but knew I didn’t have enough money to finish a four-year program. So I took as many classes as I could and then jumped out to work for a marketing firm, which was not at all fulfilling. I was basically designing junk mail for five years. After hours, I’d work on editorial illustrations or custom typography, but I quickly realized I didn’t enjoy being on a computer 16 hours a day. I started doing collage as a way to break away from screen time. I used to reference a lot of old ads and typography from the ’50s and ’60s, and I wanted to work larger but the pieces could only be as big as a magazine page. That’s how I transitioned to using flat shape and color, and that’s pretty much where I’m at in this experiment of an art career that I have.”
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Alex Proba on A Poster A Day

In her day job, Alex Proba works as a graphic designer at Kickstarter. But every night when she comes home from work, Proba sits down for 30 minutes at her computer and creates a poster, either from manipulated found imagery or from shapes and patterns she's created on her own. Then she posts the final product to Tumblr, as she has every day for the past 250 days. It's the kind of experiment that every creative person says they'll do — what writer hasn't vowed to pound out words in the early hours of the morning? — but hardly anyone ever makes good on.
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72Editions.com

2013 was a good year for buying affordable art online. The long-dormant 20x200 relaunched in beta, Exhibition A proved stronger than ever, sites like Artfully Walls debuted, and countless independent designers began selling prints via their own webshops. As of last week, you can add to that list 72 Editions, a new online destination for limited edition contemporary art and artifacts, curated by London's YCN creative network, whose offerings start around $60. We've already spotted a few favorites among the mix — Saskia Pomeroy's graphic illustrations, and really lovely photography by designer Cristian Zuzunaga (above) — but we were also excited to see a few artists lesser known to us (how great are Chris Jarrett's hand-whittled slingshots, below?). Immediately bookmarkable.
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Phillip Estlund’s Genus Chairs

Phillip Estlund is a Greek-born, Florida- and NYC-based sculpture and collage artist who hit upon the idea for his series of hand-decoupaged vintage Eames chairs quite by accident: "I often work with imagery from field guides and books containing detailed images from nature," he explains. "As I was organizing cut-out images of flowers, I laid them out on several surfaces, including on the seat of my Herman Miller, Eames molded-fiberglass chair. The otherwise stark surface became immediately activated in a way that I hadn’t considered, and after arranging and adhering the flowers to the seat, the result was the Bloom Chair.”
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The table where Norton keeps an evolving collection of materials — a piece of coral, a rock found at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater house, wax hexagons from a previous installation — that serve as “inspiration or visual references” or might get used in future projects.

Heidi Norton, Artist

“Being a photographer and being an artist working with materials like resin, plants, and glass — those two worlds should not really mix,” says Heidi Norton. “You have the camera and you have film and you’re trying to keep things clean and archival, and then you have dirt and glass shards everywhere.” Such contradictions are at the core of Norton’s work, from the immaculate glow of her photography to the dirt-under-your-fingernails feel of her sculptural pieces, which typically feature houseplants in some form or another. Norton started incorporating plants into her photographic practice several years ago in a series of still lifes. It was partly a way to bring the natural world she grew up with, in rural West Virginia, into the urban setting of Chicago, where she’s lived since getting her MFA at the School of the Art Institute in 2002. Those photos eventually inspired her to make plant-based sculptures that explore how we create, cultivate, and change ourselves. Therein lies the central paradox: “The idea of preservation, and trying to save the plant while at the same time killing it through that preservation, became really interesting to me,” she says. “All of the mediums I use deal with that idea in different ways.” Even her studio itself, shot by Debbie Carlos for part two of Sight Unseen's series on Chicago artists, is part of the process.
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Another quilt in the series, with Eichhorn’s then-in-progress 4x6 orchid panel visible in the foreground. He was also, at the time, preparing to start a piece for the Chicago Transit Authority which finally launched last week, part of a series of artist commissions to be hung at the Damen L-train station.

Stephen Eichhorn, Artist

As a four-year-old living in Lenoir, South Carolina, Stephen Eichhorn refused to learn how to read. While everyone else in his class was singing their ABCs, he’d stubbornly deemed it unnecessary — he already knew he was destined to be an artist, communicating through images rather than words. “People asked me, how are you going to read your show cards or write press releases?” Eichhorn recalls. “My answer was, I’m going to marry someone who knows how to read! The resistance was so heavy they put me in a special ed class.” His protest didn’t last more than a few months, luckily, but his uncanny commitment to his future career did: At 14, for example, he interned for a group of Star Wars toymakers who taught him freehand drafting and craft techniques, and at 17 he attended a summer art program at SAIC before enrolling there a year later. Since graduating in 2006 he’s been living the dream instead of planning for it, working independently from a studio he shares with his wife in Chicago, which is where SU’s newest contributor Debbie Carlos visited him this past spring for our two-part series on Windy City artists.
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Jesse Moretti at Mondo Cane

A few weeks ago, someone on our Facebook page coined the term "zigzag expressionism" to describe the current prevailing aesthetic in art and graphic design. At the time, we laughed, gave the comment a thumbs up, and moved on. But in the weeks since, the phrase has stuck with us — and never more so than when we caught a glimpse on Instagram of the work of recent Cranbrook MFA grad Jesse Moretti, on view now at Mondo Cane gallery in New York. What we like about this phrase in general is its laughable obviousness, but in the context of Moretti's work it actually does describe not only a visual language but a thematic one as well.
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Laura Slater, Surface Designer

Laura Slater cuts, pastes, paints and layers carefree shapes and patterns to create artful textiles. Slater's surface designs are lively with dynamic brushstrokes and sharp shapes. Modern paintings and housewares all in one. "Informed by the interaction of colour and shape, my design focuses on the translation of drawing and surface through hand printed processes." Slater runs her busy studio and print workshop in West Yorkshire, England.
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