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Dennis Cooper + Gisèle Vienne

These eerie yet alluring adolescent life-size dolls were created for the theater pieces which Dennis Cooper and Gisèle Vienne have collaborated on since 2004. As Cooper says, “We consider the dolls to be actors in our works almost on a par with the human performers, and, although the dolls aren’t credited individually in the works, they each have names and fictional biographies constructed by Gisele. These biographies are used to determine which roles might be suited to their ‘personalities.'”

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Internal Forest: The Paper-Cutting Art of Elsa Mora

Elsa Mora is a boundlessly creative paper-cutting artist. With sharp knives and scissors, she crafts evocative, entangling scenes, vignettes, and storytelling images of incredible detail out of paper, full of fairytale whimsy and personal expression. Her work has a childlike quality, reminiscent of vintage children’s book illustrations, as well as a complexity, intricacy, and attention to detail on a miniature scale; showing an internal wilderness of twisting vines/blood vessels, red flowers, insects, and other symbols of nature’s marriage with the anatomy of the psyche in her work. The pieces convey the alluring yet foreboding air of fairy tales, a sense of personal pain, broken innocence, the mystery and power of nature, and playfulness. They are three-dimensional works of art, violent drops of red against a white background, all rendered in the most lovingly detailed and ingenious way in a fragile and ephemeral medium.

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Flora and Fauna: The Craft of Lorenzo Nanni

Lorenzo Nanni makes incredibly intricate, beautiful (often wearable) art, taking inspiration in an amazing way from organic forms and anatomical structures, reflecting a kind of gorgeous hybridization between animal and plant life, often replete with creaturesque tendrils seeming to infest as well as adorn the host. He creates his own breathtaking “lifeforms” from craft materials. I particularly love his Arteries, Veins series, the way that they depict details from anatomy as a textbook would, but in the startlingly tangible materials of his craft: felt, beads, embroidery. They look so visceral, so intricate, but remind us at the same time of their artificial construction, the biological juxtaposed with the inorganic.

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“Biojewelry”: Grow Your Own Bone Wedding Rings

Several years ago, Tobie Kerridge and Nikki Stott, design researchers at the Royal College of Art, and Ian Thompson, a bioengineer at King’s College London, teamed up to create wedding bands from bone cells extracted from five volunteer couples.

According to a BBC News article, “The scientists extracted the participants’ wisdom teeth to get at a sliver of bone that attaches them to the jawbone.” After extracting the bone cells for culture, “These are fed with nutrients and grown on a ‘scaffold’ material called bioglass, a special bioactive ceramic which mimics the structure of bone material.” It was a “long and fragile” process, but basically took place in the following steps:

The process
1. Extract bone chips from jaw. Rinse.
2. Place bone cells in ring-shaped bioactive ceramic scaffold.
3. Feed liquid nutrients and culture in a temperature-controlled bioreactor for six weeks.
4. After coral-like bone forms fully around scaffold, pare down to final ring shape and insert silver liner (for engraving).

Of course, there is more potential for this project than just offbeat wedding rings made from the beloved’s own bone cells. It could eventually be used to grow bone replacements for implantation, so that the bone required to, say, repair a damaged jaw, wouldn’t have to be harvested from a piece of a rib or elsewhere in the body.

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The Gorgeous and Grotesque Art-Dolls of Nita Collins

Nita Collins’ doll-sculptures creep me out and exhilarate me. Disturbing, beautiful, verging on the grotesque, delicately crafted, flawlessly executed, melancholically tender, realistic to the point of being unnerving – adorned with puckered scars, ragged holes in chests, and a panoply of peculiar, unique marks on their flesh that seem to have come straight from Nita’s imagination and heart – the tortured, sweetly exquisite bodies and faces of these dolls are a singular, constant mixture of provocative and moving. They are lovingly scarred, divinely imagined, different from any other dolls I’ve seen. Nita Collins has a unique talent manifest in these gorgeous, poignant art-dolls.

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Jessica Harrison’s “Breaking” Series

In this series of ceramic sculptures, artist Jessica Harrison undermines and perverts the kitschy sentimentality of porcelain figurines by “breaking” them, casting a macabre twist on the familiar decorative art form. 19th-century ladies with vacantly blithe expressions hold their own severed, gory-edged head in their lap, gaily dangle their bloody eyeballs above them, and with fleshless, skeletal face recline daintily on a chaise longue. I would love to have these doll-sculptures in my home, they are such clever miniature subversions of prim and happy porcelain figurines, having a dimension of interest that the traditional harmlessly sweet figurines never possess.

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