christine aaron

Oooooh, these sculptures by American artist Christine Aaron take my breath away. Broken glass and chunks of wood coming together in a beautiful, and pretty dangerous, way. For example, the first piece above it titled “No Safety Ne(s)t”. Gorgeous, yes… safe, nope! Here’s a snippet from Christine’s artist statement:

“My work investigates memory, time and the fragility of human connection. Found wood, shattered mirror and hand dyed paper become vehicles for content. The history of these materials, and the traces of process that remain in the completed work speak to the way in which humans hold the physical, mental and emotional marks of personal experience.”

Beautiful… and suddenly those shattered mirrors feel like so much more. Follow her on Instagram at @christineaaronart

naomi okubo

I will never get tired of writing about Japanese artist Naomi Okubo. All of her paintings {acrylic on canvas} are self-portraits, and in some cases, “plural self-portraits”. This originated from being bullied when she was younger … she “had felt a fear what others thought about [her], and as a result, was confused about how to relate to others.” Over the past several years, she has continued to explore this idea of acceptance – or lack there of – and the paintings above are the latest result. Here’s an excerpt from a recent video interview with Naomi:

“I want to create the effects of camouflage. This person is melting into the background, which is how I think about fashion, especially in Japan. I was told that I shouldn’t be so outstanding.

So, if I just paint only this one person, she would stand out because she’s wearing such a bright dress. But, if I paint other very bright patterns, she will to melt into the background. It’s the social conflict between standing out / melting in.”

So true for so many of us, yes? Watch the full video, created by ALL*ARTS, and follow Naomi on Instagram at @naomi_okubo.

amber cowan

“Bubble Bath in the Tunnel of Love”. Well, that title could not be more perfect for yet another absolutely breathtaking glass piece by Philadelphia based artist Amber Cowan. This emerald-hued beauty was featured in the show “Objects: USA 2020” at R & Co Gallery in NYC, curated by Glenn Adamson. Here are Amber’s words about this specific piece:

“My piece is an homage to the innocence of falling in love represented in part by the imagery of the old fashioned tunnel of love carnival ride. The swan cars emerge from the tunnel full of hope bubbles and will quickly and blindly fall over the edge of the jadeite waterfall.  A female figure rests at the base of the mountain bathing in the bubbles and luxuriating in the lushness of the meadow.

This piece is created out of flame-worked and pressed jadeite glass.”

“Objects: USA 2020” included 308 artists ‘inventing new approaches to art-making by way of craft media’, and has toured 22 museums across the US, and 11 cities in Europe!

Follow Amber on Instagram @amber.cowan {Photos of images above by Constance Mensh}

“fear is a theme”

You can tell just by looking at that photo that this is gonna be FUN! Today’s guest on ART FOR YOUR EAR is Nova Scotia based painter Celine Gabrielle. She is hilarious, talented, and pretty much an unstoppable force. Celine’s story is filled with twists and turns and pivots and then a few more turns. Oh, and for those of you who keep emailing me to ask for the episodes to be longer, well, have I got a treat for you… Celine and I ended up talking for TWO HOURS. Yep, get your coffee and art supplies, and we’ll meet you in the studio! Listen right up there under Celine and her rings, or subscribe on Apple Podcasts.

First up, a little peek at a few of my fave paintings from Celine’s portfolio:

Ooooh, ahhhh! So rich, so ruffly, so colorful! Okay, so now that you’ve got the gist, here are a bunch of the pieces we talked about specifically. First is, well, the first piece she did in her now known style, for a show titled “Under the Influence”:

… and yes, that’s the artist Celine chose as her ‘influence’! Polish painter Tamara de Lempicka {1898-1980}. Gorgeous.

Next, the yellow dress!

I love this dress, and I love the story that goes with it even more. I can’t wait to see what Celine does with ‘Scotian’ series!

Of course, I had to include the tinsel jacket painting, and a closeup for good measure:

Can you believe she only started painting in 2018? In. Sane.

Next up is the near death experience mural:

Yeah, tippy toes on a ladder is NEVER a good idea… trust me.

I had to include these screengrabs too! This super funny and sweet video is what Celine posted to her Instagram feed after she talked on the phone to Ashley Longshore, who had called to buy her work:

Ha! I love that Celine puts it all out there for everyone to see, feel, everything! Here’s the video if you wanna watch it.

And finally, the inside scoop on a few very important things. No.1, the pastel monster from high school; No.2, possibly the best school photo I’ve ever seen; No.3, Celine’s supportive, beautiful family:

Awww! Love, love, love! {and yes, I WILL be putting Celine’s school photo on Instagram, because how can I not!?}. Thank you so much to Celine for sharing all of her stories, and for hanging out with me for so long; thanks to Storyblocks for supporting the episode; and big thanks to YOU for listening! There will be more ART FOR YEAR EAR in two weeks.

Other links:

  1. Celine on Instagram
  2. Celine’s Online Shop
  3. Canterbury High School, Ottawa
  4. FAME!
  5. NSCAD, Nova Scotia College of Art & Design
  6. The Other Art Fair
  7. CJ Hendry on ART FOR YOUR EAR
  8. Ashley Longshore on ART FOR YOUR EAR
  9. GoPro video of Danielle’s mural 
  10. Storyblocks


lakwena macivor

This is the absolutely fantastic work of London based artist Lakwena Maciver. This show, titled “Homeplace”, was installed at Hastings Contemporary in the Spring of 2020. Here are Lakwena’s words about these paintings:

“I’m an artist and a mother, and I’m looking at where those two roles cross over. My art is concerned with mythologies; things we hold to be true, and I want to tell the truth to my kids. I know that they go out into the big wide world and I can’t control what happens out there. They’ll hear things and be influenced by things that I have no control over. But I can ensure that in my home I am sending them clear messages about who they are, their value, their worth, what to do in times of need, where to go to for help, what to set their hearts on, what is important. So that’s what these paintings are about. They contain words of affirmation, words that will encourage, warn and inspire. 

My intention is to create a safe space. As these paintings and images of them travel, literally and virtually, my hope is that they might act as sparks to encourage others to define spaces of safety, and also as signs to point people to places of safety.”

So beautiful, in both execution and message.

beverly semmes

Oh. My. Word. This is just the tip of the absolutely breathtaking iceberg that is the work of New York based artist and educator Beverly Semmes. She’s a sculptor who incorporates painting, film, photography and performance so, yes, her portfolio is immense. That said, I clearly have a thing for her series of large-scale dresses that flow across the floor, filling entire rooms! She became known for these works in the 1990’s, but if you keep an eye out you can still find recent additions to the series {ie., the piece at the top, titled “Bow (Blue Curtain)”, is from 2016.} This is how Beverly describes these installations:

Imposing and majestic, the dresses cascade down walls, conjuring wearers of power and size.

So powerful. Just imagine seeing that pink piece {complete with wearer!}, titled “Petunia, 2002”, in person? Majestic, indeed.

*Images found via Susan Inglett Gallery & Shoshana Wayne Gallery.

amy sherald

“The Great American Fact”, referencing an 1892 book by educator Anna Julia Cooper, was the title of Baltimore based artist Amy Sherald’s show at Hauser+Wirth, LA (March-June/2021). All five of these large-scale pieces are stunning, but “As American As Apple Pie” {with the woman wearing the Barbie t-shirt} might be my favorite! Here’s an excerpt from the gallery’s description of the exhibition:

“[Amy Sherald’s] paintings celebrate the Black body at leisure, thereby revealing her subjects’ whole humanity. Sherald’s work thus foregrounds the idea that Black life and identity are not solely tethered to grappling publicly with social issues, and that resistance lies equally in a full interior life and an expansive vision of selfhood in the world.”

Not only do the images reflect “whole humanity”, Amy purposely hangs the work a little lower than usual, purposely creating a direct relationship between the viewer and the subject. Sigh. I wish I was eye-to-eye with these beauties right now.

*Photography by Joseph Hyde, Installation shots by Fredrik Nilsen Studio, bio photo by Shaniqua Jarvis for Interview Magazine

samuelle green

Gasp! This installation, titled “Manifestation 8 : Permutation 1”, is the latest work by American artist Samuelle Green. I wrote about her beehive-like work {made from zillions of paper cones!} in 2019, and so the second I saw these pink velvet chairs show up on Instagram… well, I knew I had to write again! This piece was part of two-person show with Liz Miller, titled “Fiber Filled”, at Spartanburg Art Museum in South Carolina. Here’s a description of Samuelle’s work from her website:

There is structure and design inherent in the natural world which we constantly draw from and take for granted. We generally fail to acknowledge the skill, time, and detail required to manifest the intricate structures found in objects we encounter regularly – such as those found in bird and wasp nests, beehives, spider webs, rock formations, anthills, feathers, and countless others. Samuelle’s work, especially the large scale installations, reference these forms – inspiring contemplation. These natural forms are often met with human made, found objects.

Sigh. Beautiful.

susan maddux

Sculptures? Paintings? Yep! This is the gorgeous, and totally unique work of American artist Susan Maddux. After years in New York, painting textiles for the fashion industry, Susan made the jump to LA and her own fine art practice. Born in Hawaii, to a hapa Japanese-American family, Susan has “absorbed the influence of Japanese folk art traditions and Buddhist temples as well as the arts of Polynesia.”  Love! I also love this quote I found on one of her Instagram posts, and had to share it:

“All my life, people have told me [being an artist] was impossible, so I honestly never considered it a real option even though making things is all I’ve ever wanted to do. But what I discovered when I was at my lowest, is that ‘impossible’ is just a story. Stories are so powerful. Tell yourself a good one!” 

See? So good!

christophe delbeecke

Don’t worry. They aren’t going to pop. Those squishy balloons are squishy at all… they’re resin! That said, they certainly create some drama with a capital D, no? This is the work of Belgian artist Christophe Delbeecke, and here are a few excerpts from an interview he did with Luisa Catucci Gallery, Berlin:

“I really love working with everyday objects because their banality offers a lot of different possibilities. We are so used to these kinds of objects that just a small modification can give them a totally new meaning, giving the chance to create something new and original … I love paradoxical things, because they push us to meditate and think in a deeper way. With the “Balloon Series” I wanted to materialize the tension between the balloons and the sharp objects, which upsets the “pre-installed software” of our brains. In fact, we think that the image we are looking at is actually impossible, but still it exists … The message behind my artworks is very paradoxical as well – it can be positive and full of hope like, for instance, “Nothing can beat me”, but once you switch the objects it can get really negative and hopeless.”

Oof, yes it can… I’m gonna opt for the “nothing can beat me” angle.