Willard Stone.

Willard Stone, “War Widows” (nd), wild cherry wood, 7 1/2 x 20 1/2 x 4 1/2 inches (courtesy Gilcrease Museum).

Willard Stone, “War Widows” (nd), wild cherry wood, 7 1/2 x 20 1/2 x 4 1/2 inches (courtesy Gilcrease Museum).

Most people don’t know Willard Stone, a Cherokee sculptor who did amazing work, most of in in the 1940s. He was deeply affected by the threat of atomic war, and that is the subject of several of his pieces. There’s a show and centennial celebration of his work at the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma until January 22nd, 2017. Hyperallergic has an excellent article about Mr. Stone.

TULSA, Okla. — Willard Stone’s wood-carving style might be described as Art Deco Cherokee, with a distinct, streamlined movement and natural themes that reflect his indigenous heritage. He’d originally wanted to be a painter, but a childhood accident with a blasting cap blew off his thumb and two other fingers. So he slowly learned sculpture instead, forming figures from Oklahoma’s red clay. His 1940s work in particular responded to the threat and promise of atomic energy, while still including the Native American motifs expected by his patrons. To mark the centennial of his birth in Oktaha, Oklahoma, the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa is exhibiting Following the Grain: A Centennial Celebration of Willard Stone.

Willard Stone, “Tree Dog” (nd), torch-burned cherry wood, 13 3/4 x 3 3/4 x 5 1/8 inches (courtesy Gilcrease Museum).

Willard Stone, “Tree Dog” (nd), torch-burned cherry wood, 13 3/4 x 3 3/4 x 5 1/8 inches (courtesy Gilcrease Museum).


Willard Stone, “Modernistic Indian Girl” (1946), oak wood, 9 x 2 1/2 x 1 3/4 inches (courtesy Gilcrease Museum).

Willard Stone, “Modernistic Indian Girl” (1946), oak wood, 9 x 2 1/2 x 1 3/4 inches (courtesy Gilcrease Museum).

There’s much more to see, and read, at Hyperallergic.  Following the Grain: A Centennial Celebration of Willard Stone.

Via Hyperallergic.

Erehwon Stairway.

Influenced by the M.C. Escher-esque designs of Indian stepwells, British architect Thomas Heatherwick has unveiled plans for a giant stairway to nowhere in New York City’s Hudson Yards. Tentatively titled “Vessel,” the public landmark will consist of 154 intersecting flights of stairs and 80 landings zigzagging up above a plaza and garden on the far west side of Manhattan. Made of bronzed steel and concrete, the structure is slated to open in 2018.

Resembling a giant bronze ribcage — or a beehive, or a basket, depending on whom you ask — “Vessel” will weigh 600 tons and cost $150 million. It will be among the least utilitarian structures of its size in a space-starved city: its 2,500 steps don’t lead to any offices or condominiums or retail spaces. Instead, the sculptural “Vessel” will essentially function as a massive observation tower and jungle gym. While hiking the miles worth of stairs to the top, 16 stories up, visitors will get 360-degree views of the surrounding city and a free workout. A curving elevator will make the structure wheelchair accessible.

In addition to Indian stepwells, Heatherwick’s design was inspired by a beloved piece of urban detritus from his youth. “When I was a student, I fell in love with an old discarded flight of wooden stairs outside a local building site,” Heatherwick said in a statement about the design. “It caught my imagination and I loved that it was part furniture and part infrastructure. You could climb up stairs, jump on them, dance on them, get tired on them, and then plonk yourself down on them.”

Years later, when Heatherwick’s studio was commissioned by Hudson Yards developer Related Companies to create a centerpiece landmark for the site, this old discarded wooden staircase came to mind. “We wondered whether [the commission] could be built entirely from steps and landings?” Heatherwick said. “The goal became to lift people up to be more visible and to enjoy new views and perspectives of each other. … The idea is that it will act as a new free stage set for the city and form a new public gathering place for New Yorkers and visitors.”

Thomas Heatherwick Studio, rendering for “Vessel” (2016) (all images by and courtesy Forbes Massie).

Thomas Heatherwick Studio, rendering for “Vessel” (2016) (all images by and courtesy Forbes Massie).

While the cost of this piece leaves me feeling on the faint side, I have to say I love the idea of stairs being allowed to be the focus, rather than just a way to get to something else, with the something else always being more important. This makes me feel a childish joy. It’s lovely to look at, too. It’s just the cost of it all that bothers; all that money could do so much good. Well, here’s hoping this does people a lot of good on the spiritual side of life.

Hyperallergic has the full story.





Chinese artist Wenyi wanders the streets of his home in Dali, Yunnan Province, China, gathering bits of discarded cardboard to use as his canvas. Wenyi then takes the bits of trash he finds and draws the surroundings on each object. The small pieces range from quick black and white sketches to colorful drawings of entire homes, each a snapshot of his hometown. After sketching the scenery Wenyi places his completed works back into their original locations, imbuing the everyday refuse with art. “I want people to see art in our everyday life,” said Wenyi to Bored Panda, “even if it’s on wasted paper.”

What could I possibly say? This is beautiful, inspired work, which I am sure has large ripples which affect people in a very good way. Via Colossal Art.

Tribal Photography.

© Jimmy Nelson.

© Jimmy Nelson.

How often do you learn a valuable lesson from pissing yourself drunk, besides, “never drink that much again?” While traveling with a Central Mongolian tribe, photographer Jimmy Nelson learned lessons both in reindeer psychology and humor after downing too much vodka and wetting his tent. As the story goes, he woke up to reindeer charging into his bed (apparently they love human urine). Nelson tells this and more stories, accompanied by his majestic portraits of the customs and trappings of indigenous peoples from accross the world, in a new video from the Cooperative of Photography. Like Aesop’s fables, Nelson’s anecdotes have lessons touching on knowledge, vulnerability, and pride. Young photographers can also learn a lot about how to interact with subjects respectfully and purposefully.


© Jimmy Nelson.


© Jimmy Nelson.


Jimmy Nelson currently has a show at Gallery KNOKKE through September 18. See more of his work on his website. Visit the Cooperative of Photography for more tips, tricks, and interviews with photographers.

Via The Creators Project, where there are more photos.

Sunday Dance.

No facepalm today. No eyerolls. No head shaking, no crying, no despair, no sense of hopelessness. I need healing, and it’s days away until the camps and wacipi. So, just for today, I’m going to pretend that all people are good, and all people are as connected to all as they should be. Way back when these photos were just taken, I uploaded some to a photo forum I used to frequent. I had a person take me to task over the 7th photo, because the dancer “ruined the moment and atmosphere completely” by wearing NBA socks. I never noticed until that moment, being captivated by the young man’s dancing, which was beautiful. Public perception, it really, really has to change. Clickety for full size.














© C. Ford, all rights reserved.

A Crocheted Statement.


Artist Olek reveals an entire two-story house covered roof to floorboards in pink crochet. This new yarn-bombed installation currently stands in Kerava, Finland where Olek worked with a team of assistants to stitch together huge panels of crochet that envelop every inch of this 100-year-old house. Olek shares:

Originally, this building, built in the early 1900s, was the home of Karl Jacob Svensk (1883-1968). During the Winter War 1939-1940, the family fled to evade bombs falling into the yard, but they didn’t have to move out permanently. In 2015, more than 21 million people were forced to leave their homes in order to flee from conflicts. The pink house, our pink house is a symbol of a bright future filled with hope; is a symbol us coming together as a community.



Isn’t that grand! I love this. I love the statement, the vibrancy, the life, the love, and the community of it. From Olek’s site:

A loop after a loop. Hour after hour my madness becomes crochet. Life and art are inseparable. The movies I watch while crocheting influence my work, and my work dictates the films I select. I crochet everything that enters my space. Sometimes it’s a text message, a medical report, found objects. There is the unraveling, the ephemeral part of my work that never lets me forget about the limited life of the art object and art concept. What do I intend to reveal? You have to pull the end of the yarn and unravel the story behind the crochet.

My work changes from place to place. I studied the science of culture. With a miner’s work ethic, I long to delve deeper and deeper into my investigations. My art was a development that took me away from industrial, close-minded Silesia, Poland. It has always sought to bring color and life, energy, and surprise to the living space. My goal is to produce new work and share it with the public. I intend to take advantage of living in NYC with various neighborhoods and, with my actions, create a feedback to the economic and social reality in our community.

Via Colossal Art. –  Olek’s site.

Cool Stuff Friday.


A chain of koi fish float through an exhibit space, illuminating their immediate surroundings with a self-contained, warm orange glow. The works come from a familiar yet unexpected name: Frank Gehry. Early in his artistic career, Gehry created several visual installations and furniture designs, many in the late-20th century, that would influence his later accomplishments in architecture. Fish Lamps draws upon the flowing and undulating movement of the water species, an aesthetic that often made an appearance in Gehry’s singular building designs.

I have very few lamps, but I’d be happy to give some of these a home. Full Story at the Creators Project.

What should you wear to keep cool on a hot day? One word: plastics.

A form of polyethylene — the common plastic that makes up ClingWrap — is a promising candidate for a textile that prevents us from overheating, researchers say. Hopefully, it won’t look like those PVC bodysuits that pop up every Halloween.

Many researchers are trying to create cooling fabrics, from cloth inspired by squid skin to electroactive textiles. But the team led by Yi Cui, a materials scientist at Stanford University, was inspired by materials that we don’t usually consider for clothing. In a study published today in Science, the team turned a battery component into a textile that lets our body’s natural heat escape better than cotton. The team hasn’t worn the fabric themselves yet, but Cui insists it feels “very much like normal fabric” and hopes it will be commercialized within two years.

Full story at The Verge.

Supergirl creator developing a Black Lightning TV series.


Supergirl and Arrow co-creator Greg Berlanti is reportedly developing a series following Black Lightning, one of DC Comics’ first major black superheroes. According to Deadline, Berlanti is working with The Game creator Mara Brock Akil and her husband to get the drama off the ground, and the trio are currently shopping the project to multiple networks.

Black Lightning has the chance to be DC’s highest profile black superhero series to date. Created in 1977 by writer Tony Isabella and artist Trevor Von Eeden, Black Lightning, otherwise known as Jefferson Pierce, is an educator and eventual member of the Justice League with the power to control electrical energy. In the proposed TV series, Pierce will have retired from superheroics, but after his daughter’s life is endangered by his city’s underworld, he willingly steps back into his old alter ego.

Full story here.

Native Cartography.


I have long coveted this map, but like many coveted things, it’s out of my budgetary reach. Aaron Carapella (Cherokee) is still making Indigenous based maps, the latest a pre-contact map of South America’s Indigenous peoples.

A new pre-contact map by Aaron Carapella promises to be the most comprehensive snapshot of South America’s Indigenous Peoples.

Carapella, the 36-year-old architect behind a growing collection of Tribal Nations maps, in October released a map depicting 720 tribes of South America in their original locations and identified by their traditional names. Where possible, the rising cartographer also included historic photos of people or places.

“I focused on traditional homelands, or where the tribes were when the Portuguese or English or French came and took over,” Carapella said. “I tried to put the tribes where they were before they were shifted around and merged with other tribes, and I used their traditional names—the names they called themselves before European contact.”

The latest installment marks completion of Carapella’s plan to map the entire western hemisphere, a project that started about two decades ago. Carapella, who is of Cherokee descent, was a teenager exploring his own heritage in Oklahoma and wanted a map of tribes that he could hang on his bedroom wall.

When he couldn’t find anything comprehensive, he decided to make his own. He spent 14 years and visited 250 tribal communities as he researched and created his first Tribal Nations map. Released in 2012, the map depicts traditional names and locations of 590 tribes in the United States.

From there, Carapella expanded beyond the “artificial borders” and mapped Canada, Alaska, Mexico and Central America. He also offers a map of the entire North American continent identifying more than 1,000 tribes and absent any lines drawn between states or countries.

His map of South America also shows tribal nations without political borders. From the Wayuu on the northern tip of the continent to the Manek’enk on the bottom of Cape Horn, Carapella mapped as many tribes as he could in their original locations.

That, in itself, proved more difficult than Carapella imagined. Some tribes have lived on the same land since time immemorial while others were relocated, confined to reservations or combined with other tribes.

“It’s hard to find a map or anything that pinpoints where these people were actually from,” Carapella said. “The Europeans didn’t stop to make maps of where people were. That wasn’t their goal.”


You can read and see more here. You can read about Aaron’s first map, the 1490 Turtle Island, here. Aaron’s website: http://www.tribalnationsmaps.com/.

Angela Sterritt.

Gitxan artist and CBC journalist Angela Sterritt spent five days in China creating this mural. (Angela Sterritt).

Gitxan artist and CBC journalist Angela Sterritt spent five days in China creating this mural. (Angela Sterritt).

A Gitxsan artist from British Columbia is among several artists from around the world chosen to create murals at a mountain village resort in China.

“To be able to put Gitxsan people on the map and shed light on the reality and history of Indigenous people in Canada is something I am very grateful for,” Sterritt said.

Angela Sterritt, who is also an award-winning journalist, spent five days painting her mural on a 10-seven-foot wall in a resort on Mount Longhu in Jiangxi, a province in southeast China.

She travelled to China at the invitation of Karl Schutz, a German-born Vancouver man known for establishing an acclaimed series of murals in Chemainus, B.C., in the 1980s.

Schutz, in turn, was invited to organize the mural project by Steven Liu, a well-known Chinese entertainer, who “wanted to create a global mural attraction in his artisan village,” according to Schutz.

“I found Angela’s website on line and was amazed about her powerful art … her painting is awe inspiring,” said Schutz.

Sterritt made the journey with her young son, Namawan, who also helped with the project.

The mural Sterritt painted is a re-creation of one of her existing works, called First Contact, which she says is about the resilience and strength of Indigenous women. It is a striking image is of an Indigenous woman facing the viewer, while helicopters hover behind.

“It depicts a woman whose connection and love for her community, family, the land and her culture eclipse fear instilled in us at the time of first contact,” Sterritt said.

“As a Gitxsan woman, I’ve been gifted Sip’ xw hligetdin — the strength to speak out — through my art and as a journalist. This piece speaks to Indigenous women rising from the ashes [using] what has been within her all along — her culture, in this case from the Wolf Clan, an Owl Crest and a Big Raven House.”

The full story is here. Angela Sterritt’s site.

Shaun Tan.

Shaun Tan, photographed at the Illustration Cupboard gallery in London in June with the Fox, one of the characters from his new book

Shaun Tan, photographed at the Illustration Cupboard gallery in London in June with the Fox, one of the characters from his new book.

Shaun Tan, the latest artist to give form to these German folk stories collected in the early 19th ­century, is not one to shy away from difficult subject matter. Even so, the ferocity of the Grimms’ tales did give him pause. Take “Hansel and Gretel”, one of the first that Tan reread four years ago as he considered whether to take on the job of illustrating them.

“It’s pure nightmare fodder,” says the Australian writer, artist and film-maker. “Starvation, abandonment, abduction, cannibalism, psychological torture and subsequent oven-based revenge: sweet dreams, little ones! But it’s also my favourite tale. The leaving of stones and breadcrumbs, the house made of cake and bread and sugar — the imagery is so strange and beautiful.”

You can see why Tan, a master of beauty and strangeness in his own right, decided to go ahead. Over the course of his two-decade career, the 42-year-old from Perth has established himself as one of the world’s most important children’s authors. This status was capped in 2011 when he won the SKr5m (£450,000) Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, the richest and most prestigious in the field of children’s and young-adult literature. Yet even the most cursory glance through Tan’s densely wrought, often highly political illustrated books is enough to dispel the notion that they are for children alone. Tan himself insists that he does not have a particular audience in mind as he works, preferring to think of what younger and older readers have in common than what sets them apart.

‘Harbour’, from Tan’s graphic novel ‘The Arrival’, 2006.

‘Harbour’, from Tan’s graphic novel ‘The Arrival’, 2006.

In the book that made his name, The Rabbits (1998), Tan collaborated with the novelist John Marsden to produce a fable of colonisation rich in retro-futuristic imagery and references to Australian history. His first solo project, 2000’s The Lost Thing, was a tale about a boy and a forlorn crab-machine figure that could also be read as a critique of “economic rationalism”. It would later be adapted by Tan and Andrew Ruhemann into a film that won an Oscar for best animated short in 2011. The Red Tree (2001), a powerful and ultimately hopeful meditation on childhood depression, has inspired musical and theatrical productions and even been used as a resource by professional therapists.

But it is for The Arrival (2006), a wordless graphic novel focusing on the struggles of refugees to remake their lives in unfamiliar, confronting ­surroundings, that he is best known. Drawing on research into Ellis Island and mass European immigration to the US, Tan’s hand-drawn sepia frames evoke family photo albums and, at first, locate us in an early-20th-century world that we feel we know. Yet the destination country is also a place of fantastical animals, indecipherable script and flying boats, to which freshly admitted immigrants are delivered in capsules suspended from balloons. The fantasy is disorientating, capturing the texture of the migrant experience in ways that straightforward realism never could.

FT Magazine has a wonderful in-depth article and interview with Shaun Tan: How Shaun Tan transformed children’s literature. I’ll just add that I think Shaun Tan’s books are by no means limited to children, wonderful stuff.

Doing what I hate, with love.

As I mentioned earlier, the tree quilt is resting in the cedar chest for a bit, as I have a few other things I must get done. Things which mean figuring out the math, measuring, cutting, and ironing. All things I hate. Some of that is done for now, and I’m onto a teeny tiny blanket stitch done with quilting thread, and love. Lots of love.



© C. Ford, all rights reserved.