Found animal bones, recycled fur, air-dry clay, glue, watercolor… That’s not what’s for dinner, but the curious ingredients involved in Jennifer Farina’s work. I checked her adorably creepy pieces back in October at “Parade of Demons”, a show on display 182 River St., Troy, NY. With a title and theme drawn from popular Japanese folklore (The Night Procession of a Hundred Demons) the exhibition included five American artists using a variety of mediums to create otherworldly creatures that entertain, frighten, and delight. I came back with a few photos and invited the artists to share the inspiration behind their work in this post.
Click on any of the thumbnails to open a larger view, or check the full-screen Flickr slideshow if you have Flash installed.
The artists featured: Seana Biondolillo, Alex Drum, Jennifer Farina, Sean McCausland, and Jake Winiski. Photographing art is tricky, or maybe I just suck at it; in any case, it’s something to experience in person, of course. Support your local artists & curators by paying them a visit, if you can. More photos can be found on Facebook.
Now tell me you don’t want to adopt this cute guy above. Please call The Mohawk & Hudson River Monster Society. His name is Isidor The Destroyer.
This little one, also from Jennifer Farina, allegedly showed up too late to the casting call for The Dark Crystal. Then again, it has only two legs, don’t hate.
“1” by Alexander Drum. Photo courtesy of the author (original here). Alexander is a 29 yrs artist living in Brooklyn, NY. The pieces in the show (above and below) were photographs he took between 2005 and 2009. He shares: “I honestly can’t tell you what my motivation behind doing either of them was. My ideas come in flashes from outside of my left brain thinking and are based more on aesthetic rather than any underlying concept or theme I might be trying to convey. If someone ends up drawing something meaningful and relateable to their own life all the better. Maybe I was tapping into their subconscious when I took the photo”.
“-23” by Alexander Drum. Photo courtesy of the author (original here). Besides photography, Alexander has been making a lot of music: “I just recorded a 4 song EP in my bedroom called “Your Heart is an Autumn Garage” that can be downloaded for free here - and playing guitar in a band called Shiv Hurrah and drums in a band called Soltero”. The rest of his photography work can be seen on Flickr and he maintains a Tumblr.
Work by Sean McCausland. The Night Procession of a Hundred Demons was a Japanese folk belief. The belief holds that every year yōkai, the Japanese supernatural beings, will take to the streets during summer nights. Anyone who comes across the procession will die, unless protected by some Buddhist sutra. It was a popular theme in Japanese visual art. These works are more often humorous than frightening. (source: Wikipedia).
Work by Sean McCausland. If it involves an octopus and babies, it’s either on SyFy at 2AM or in Troy, NY and I actually want to see it.
“Sea Monster” by Seana Biondolillo. Seana is getting back to me with the story behind this piece and her work. Feel free to check back later.
“Harbinger of Cloudy Fluid 1 & 2” by Jake Winiski. Jake was originally a painter, and still consider his work to be painting: “I came to photography while I was in graduate school at SUNY Albany a couple years ago (I’ve never had any formal training in photography). I make my work through a hybridizing process between photographed three-dimensional constructions and painting. First I build small, crude, abstract constructions with paper, paint, and whatever other materials I happen across. I then make polaroid photographs from that model, capitalizing on the deconstructive nature of photography to begin redefining the small model as a more dramatic, often hyperbolic space. I then make larger prints from those polaroids and paint directly into them with an airbrush and india ink, combining the world I began to form through the process of photographing with a free-associative perspective to find narratives, monsters, etc.”
Any photoshopping involved? “There’s no digital manipulation involved in my process, everything I do is pretty low-tech. The final objects become as much a painting as a photograph, yet neither in a traditional sense. I tend to view photography as a meeting point for the outside world and internal fantasy; a platform for the basic human impulse to project our own sense of invention into the world. I think of this as the same impulse that people have used from the beginning of history to form myths, superstitions, even entire religions. Using this principal I can take a small, artificial pile of junk and extract entire worlds.”
I asked Jake about these two pieces specifically: “Harbinger of Cloudy Fluid specifically came from my experience of being hospitalized with a ruptured appendix. This is where the milky monsters in the piece came from, and the triptych documents the monsters revolt within its environment (i.e. an appendix rupturing, becoming infected, and needing removed). Of course none of this is readable in the work, just what fueled it for me”.
Wait, what’s that? I didn’t take that many photos of the other pieces, unfortunately, and I’ll blame it on not bringing the appropriate lens. Or on my fascination for Farina’s little critters. All these bones made me hungry though, I walked down the corner and sat outside The Placid Baker on that gorgeous early October day. This bakery is the perfect place to buy macarons, and likely the only way to get a good old-fashioned French canelé around Albany.
Above, a colorful mural next to The Placid Baker in Troy, NY.
“Parade of Demons” was on display late September 2010, 182 River St., Troy, NY. The space is a bit experimental at the moment but I will keep an eye on it.
See a lot more photos of the show reception on Facebook.