Category Archives: United States

James Ostrer’s Junk Food Art

 
Obesity is considered a major health crisis in the United States and many other countries. According to the Food Research and Action Center, “Obesity rates have more than doubled” since the 1970s. It has also been reported that two-thirds of Americans are considered overweight or obese.

While media pundits and nutritional scientists speculate the cause of obesity, one source of the problem seems apparent: junk food.

Humans love junk food. And many of us are addicted to it (which some claim is the food industry’s goal.) When considering this truth, it is safe to say that junk food has changed the face of our culture.

One artist, photographer James Ostrer decided to explore this phenomenon with his latest series, entitled, “Wotsit All About?”

If you called the series horrific, he might not mind. Using junk food, he produced some of the most disturbing images you can imagine. Monsters.

Coping With Junk

At an early age, James Ostrer’s parents divorced. It was a troubling time for him and his parents did what they could to lift their child’s spirits. His father, in particular, thought Happy Meal’s would work. Therefore, whenever Ostrer’s father picked him up for the week, he started things off with a trip to McDonald’s.

Unfortunately, instead of lifting Ostrer’s mood, this tradition brought on a bad habit. Ostrer began turning to junk food as a way to cope with stress. As he got older, Ostrer noticed his health was in decline. This got him thinking about how his relationship with junk food negatively impacted his life. He also began to reflect on how junk food impacts the world. That was when inspiration struck.

Happy Meal Monsters

The result was a series of portraits that showcased grotesque monsters made entirely of junk foods like candy, burgers, and chocolate. Ostrer used junk food as material to completely cover his models from head to toe. After eight hours in the “makeup” chair, each monster emerged looking horrifying and disturbing. This was Ostrer’s goal. The photographer successfully made the point that our relationship with junk food is indeed horrifying, grotesque, and disturbing.

Ostrer also titles his photographs to enrich his message. Each one contains the letters, “EF,” followed by a number. “EF” stands for “emotional fossil.” This structure mirrors what is called “E numbers.” The Food Standards Agency’s code for what are considered safe additives. The reviews are strict but somehow, fast food restaurants keep managing to receive passing grades.

Ostrer’s monsters have their own E numbers, indicating that they are “safe.” But Ostrer second guesses their labels by asking, “Are these monsters safe?”

Is Junk Food Safe?

Health is a global issue and junk food is too, especially in America. More often than not, what seems harmless turns out to be destructive. James Ostrer’s work reflects this fact with a bit of a twisted view. Ostrer tells us these junk food monsters are on the loose, but instead of running from them, we invite them into our bodies every day.

By viewing Ostrer’s photographs, we are invited into his perspective; a perspective that he hopes will alter the trends of junk food.

Read more Segmation blog posts about food art:

Food Never Looked So Good

Coloring Each Season with Healthy Food

Thanksgiving Scenes Influences Art

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Since When is Shredding Money a Wise Investment?

Mark Wagner Collage Artist 1Collage artist Mark Wagner sees the term, “It takes money to make money” as literal. His favorite art medium involves making collages of one dollar bills. But don’t let this small currency fool you. He receives thousands of dollars for his artwork.

Working with small bills all day requires a greater investment of time than dollars. When CBS News asked about the expense of using money as his medium, Wagner said, “The bills aren’t the expensive part of the operation. It’s the time – that’s the expensive part.” In order to contrive pieces of dollar bill that will be repurposed and repositioned in his masterpieces requires an X-acto knife and steady hand. Wagner cuts dollar bills into pieces and then organizes the parts into boxes until he is ready to assemble the collage.

On his website, Markwagnerinc.com, Wagner publishes an insightful statement about his infamous collage work:

The one dollar bill is the most ubiquitous piece of paper in America. Collage asks the question: what might be done to make it something else? It is a ripe material: intaglio printed on sturdy linen stock, covered in decorative filigree, and steeped in symbolism and concept. Blade and glue transform it-reproducing the effects of tapestries, paints, engravings, mosaics, and computers—striving for something bizarre, beautiful, or unbelievable… the foreign in the familiar.

Aside from scrupulously breaking down the dollar bill, Wagner has a creative mind to see a dollar as more than currency. His mother says that becoming a professional artist was Mark’s “single-minded pursuit” growing up. She was amazed at the way his mind worked. Now the rest of the world joins her, watching the artist with awe. How does he come up with these designs? And how does he see money so differently than the general public?

In 2009, Wagner made a momentous artistic feat with one of his most well-known pieces titled, “Liberty.” It is a 17 feet tall, six feet wide installment that uses nearly 82,000 individual pieces of dollar bills. Inspired by the Statue of Liberty, the piece tells a much greater story than peace and justice for all. “Beyond its humor, beauty, and spectacle,” a write-up on the Pavel Zoubok Gallery website reads, “Liberty addresses issues of economic, civil liberties, American self-image, and artistic practice.”

Mark Wagner Collage ArtistArtistic practice might be an understatement. The creativity that went into conceptualizing this piece of art is trumped only by the fascination with the medium Wagner used to breathe life into this design. The grandiose presentation is only one of Wagner’s many works of art. He has been using money as his medium for more than a decade.

In addition to his career as a professional collage artist, Wagner is also into writing and bookmaking. He publishes books using the names Bird Brain Press and X-ing Books. He also co-founded The Booklyn Artists Alliance.

Would you like to experience more of Mark Wagner’s work and his aptitude for making collages? Visit his website: http://markwagnerinc.com/.

 

Read more Segmation blog posts about out of the box art:

Lady Liberty (www.segmation.com)

Will the Real George Washington Please Stand Up?

Gilbert Stuart – American Portrait Painter

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Make Labor Day Special, Celebrate with Art

The United States was a nation built from the ground up. It began taking shape in the latter half of the 18th century. This is when people started pursuing missions that would create a great society. As a result, 12 hour work days became the backbone of American spirit.

This dedication and determination gained recognition in the late 19th century. Citizens of the United States started celebrating Labor Day in 1882. The idea was adopted from Canada. The North American neighbor began celebrating Labour Day a decade prior.

Until present day, the United States has been consistent in honoring social and economic achievements on the first Monday in September. Most businesses are closed on this day and hardworking American citizens are offered a long weekend. During this time, barbecues and festive parties are the norm. In fact, the United States celebrates Labor Day with the same spirit that fills Fourth of July.

This blog offers five artistic tips that celebrate the “155 million men and women who are in the U.S. workforce.”

TIP 1- Recycle Old Crafts

Celebrate hard work with fun décor. Labor Day is the perfect opportunity to use red, white, and blue decorations. Dig up the patriotic crafts created for the Fourth of July.

TIP 2- Festive Party Invitations

For those planning Labor Day parties, invite family and friends with unique invitation designs. This is a great resource for anyone wanting inspiration for festive ideas: http://www.examiner.com/article/celebrating-labor-day-with-martha-stewart

TIP 3- Fun for the Kids

Teach children why the nation celebrates Labor Day. This can be done with a fun craft. One suggestion is to use old magazines and have kids cut out pictures of people working. Make a collage of the images. Click on this link for more artistic and educational craft ideas: http://familycrafts.about.com/od/holidays/p/LaborDay.htm

TIP 4- Printable Projects

Teachers and parents who want to convey the important of Labor Day can explore creative ideas here: http://homeschooling.about.com/od/holidays/ss/labordayprint_8.htm. There are many crafts and games that can be downloaded and printed out. This webpage has everything from themed puzzles to festive knickknacks (door hangings and bookmarks too!). In addition, there are quizzes for older kids and adults.

TIP 5- The Perfect Centerpiece

When thinking about this year’s Labor Day party, think about a theme that can celebrate the holiday and excite those who plan to attend. Is it possible to have a party focus on a family member’s career achievements? Find ideas that can mix up traditional themes: http://labor-day-weekend.com/parties/centerpieces.htm

Enjoy celebrating the nation’s achievements and hard work by keeping art at the heart of this holiday. There are plenty of DIY crafts that can make Labor Day special. Be sure to relax and spend time doing something fun.

Read more Segmation blog posts about Celebrating Holidays with Art:

Green Represents Saint Patrick’s Day

Hanukkah, Christmas, Happy New Year’s – Season’s Greetings as Beautiful Art Paintings

The Meaning of Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving Art

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Why Are School Buses Yellow?

Love it or hate it, yellow is here to stay. The color wheel’s brightest shade can be seen on the road every day. But neither cars nor trucks have the unique yellow paint jobs that belong to school buses. How did the yellow school bus come about anyways? And why are school buses still being painted this shade?

History of the Yellow School Bus

Knowing the colorful history of yellow school buses sheds light on this timeless tradition. The lineage of the school bus dates back to the 1930s when a man by the name of Frank Cyr conducted an in depth study of student transportation vehicles throughout the United States.

At the beginning of his research, Cyr, a professor at Teachers College, Columbia University, was observing school buses that cost (on average) $2,000. Quickly he found out that these vehicles had little in common. Various manufacturers, schools, and districts used different buses.

This inspired him to call a conference of educators in spring 1939. The purpose of this meeting was to discuss a standard protocol for school buses. The end result was a 42 page manual that discussed the ins and outs of the school bus. In this manual, the color was declared: national school bus chrome.

National School Bus Yellow

In 2010, the questionable use of “chrome” was exchanged for “yellow”.  Still, the color seen on school buses today was the color decided at the conference over seven decades ago. The precise shade of yellow was taken so seriously, that a committee was appointed just to decided which one of 50 shades of yellow would appear on the school bus.

Why has the Color not Changed?

Once national school bus yellow was decided, it became a nationwide mandate. One of the original reasons for the broad directive was because school bus manufacturers “had to have different booths to spray-paint them.” More so, the color became a universal symbol of student transportation.

In fact, most Americans have been raised in environments where yellow school buses shuttle children to and from school. It is hard to imagine life without them.

Source:
http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/19/why-are-school-buses-yellow-a-teachers-college-professor-said-so/

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Enjoy Cinco de Mayo with Celebration of Mexican Heritage and Pride in America

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Cinco de Mayo which is Spanish for “fifth of May” is a celebration held on May 5. This celebration occurs in the United States and regionally in Mexico, primarily in the state of Puebla, where the holiday is called El Día de la Batalla de Puebla which in English is called The Day of the Battle of Puebla.

One important note that needs to be mentioned is that although Mexican citizens feel very proud of the meaning of Cinco de Mayo, it is not a national holiday in Mexico, but it is an official holiday in the State of Puebla where the mentioned battle took place.

What is interesting is how Cinco de Mayo originated and became a celebration with colorful art from the color wheel filled with Segmation Amigos hot pink dancing, red skirt, flamenco women, colorful singer and playing guitars. This celebration originated with Mexican-American communities in the American West as a way to commemorate the cause of freedom and democracy during the first years of the American Civil War, thus therefore the date, May 5th is observed in the United States as a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride.

The American Cinco de Mayo celebration originated in the Mexican-American communities of the American West, SouthWest, and Northwest in the 1860s. It grew in popularity and evolved into a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage, first in areas with large Mexican-American populations, like Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston.www.segmation.com

Eventually the celebration expanded across the United States. On June 7, 2005, the U.S. Congress issued a Concurrent Resolution calling on the President of the United States to issue a proclamation calling upon the people of the United States to observe Cinco de Mayo with appropriate ceremonies and activities.

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It is worth to mention that Mexicans and Latinos living in California during the American Civil War are credited with being the first to celebrate Cinco de Mayo in the United States.

In the United States Cinco de Mayo has taken on a significance beyond that in Mexico. Celebrations tend to draw both from traditional Mexican symbols. Celebrations include display of Cinco de Mayo banners and special events to educate people about the historical significance of www.segmation.comCinco de Mayo and to highlight Mexican culture, especially in its music and regional dancing. Commercial interests in the United States have capitalized on the celebration, advertising Mexican products and services, with an emphasis on beverages, foods, art, and music.

How Are You Celebrating Cinco de Mayo? Will you be celebrating in a major cities across the country and taking part in cultural and colorful art festivities as well? Share with Segmation by leaving a comment below.

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinco_de_Mayo

Coming soon: If you love art as well as technology, you won’t want to miss our upcoming blog post about word cloud portraits.

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“Morbid Curiosity”–A Chicago Cultural Center Exhibit

The Chicago Cultural Center opened a very unique and intense art exhibit in January called “Morbid Curiosity.” The exhibit is truly unique because it showcases the work not of a singular artist, but of a collector. The art exhibit is extremely intense because its theme is death.

Richard Harris has spent twelve years collecting pieces of art that convey the many themes of death. The Chicago Cultural Center has over 1,000 of Harris’s pieces on display–they include artifacts, photographs, and decorative objects.

Surprisingly, this is only a portion of the pieces that Harris has collected over the years. His entire collection of death-related art totals more than 1,500 pieces. The museum’s curators, alongside Harris, created a replica of the Cultural Center in order to choose which pieces should be included and how they should be exhibited. Several practice runs led to the many-roomed “Morbid Curiosity” exhibit.

The goal of the exhibit is to address the many facets of death. One entire section of the Chicago Cultural Center is devoted to Mexico’s Day of the Dead. This portion of the exhibit contains a funeral procession of death-related artwork including altar paintings, drawings, and photography.

Another room offers a religious perspective on death. Christian and Catholic artwork provides a foundation on which to examine the common fate we all share in our relationship with death. Artistic images are used to relate the concept of death to the individual.

One room in the Chicago Cultural Center has been affectionately dubbed “the war room” and contains pieces of art that reflect the toll that human action, particularly war, can have on human life.

The exhibit also includes a 13 foot chandelier made of 3,000 plaster bones, 50 photographs, dozens of skulls, real and artistic representations, and Japanese pieces of art made from bone.

Be warned–this exhibit is not for the squeamish. However, “Morbid Curiosity” is perhaps the most suitable name for this exhibit. After all, death may very well be the single thing we all have in common. Richard Harris, along with the Chicago Cultural Center, has afforded us the opportunity to examine how different cultures, religions, and individual actions relate to death. The exhibit ends in July.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/ct-ent-0126-museums-morbid-20120125,0,7002015.story

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Colors Change What is Beautiful

What is beautiful? The term is a bit subjective, don’t you think? After all, isn’t beauty in the eye of the beholder?

It most certainly is, but one undeniable quality about color is its ability to make all things beautiful!

This is why color-field painting, with its abstract merging of vivid colors, is responsible for some beautiful works of art.  In this post we will look at how color-field painting evokes emotions and has the ability to change an environment.

By now we know how color impacts art and also stirs emotion in people. Recent posts discuss color therapy, known as chromotherapy and the psychology of color, offering insight into how color can impact an individual.  As artists, we know the emotional impact art can have on us. Vivid colors can stir emotions and hold an observers heart once they pass.

Sometimes, color makes beautiful what was not beautiful before. This is the case of color-field painting; color, shape, composition, proportion, balance, style, and scale change a blank canvas into a brilliant work of art.

This style of art is very abstract and those who are best known for its development are considered Abstract Expressionists.  Color-field painting emerged in New York in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. It was a type of art inspired by European modernism and made popular by artists like Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman.

What sets color-field painting apart from other types of abstract art is the artist’s regard for paint.  With the main focus being color, shape, composition, proportion, balance, style, and scale, there is less emphasis on gesture, brushstrokes and consistent actions that create form and process.  In fact, the entire work of art is created by the artist who determines what elements he or she will add to convey a sense of place, atmosphere, or environment. In other words, what makes color-field painting beautiful, is its subjectivity.

Like most art, the beauty of color-field painting is in the eye of the beholder.  These colorful pieces are nice accents for decoration and fun to paint too! But don’t let the look of simplicity fool you.  This style is not easy to perfect and contrary to how it appears, cannot be replicated by a 6 year old!

Have you splashed your art palette with color today?  Try it and see how color changes what you see as beautiful.

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A Summer Activity for Leisure Days

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Summer days are notorious for bright sun, hot temperatures and endless activities. The irony here is that summer days are also supposed to be days of leisure. This is why lounging around inside is okay even when the sun is bright. In fact, one of the most enjoyable things about a summer day is air conditioning!

Indoor summer activities often consist of watching television, sitting on the computer and working around the house. It is challenging to find a leisure activity that is also mind stimulating. This is why Segmation offers the perfect summer activity for all ages.

Paint by Numbers

Since the 1950’s, paint by numbers has been known as a leisure past time and summer activity.  It became popular when people began making more money, working fewer hours and increasing the amount they shopped. As a result, people purchased items to use in their free time. With consumers buying items like TV sets, barbeque grills and paint by numbers kits, these popular past times became better known as “new leisure.” To this day, paint by numbers, among the rest, are still a favorite past time, even though they all have new faces.

The Artist in Everyone

© Kara Allyson: Flickr

Paint by numbers is not just a great past time; it allows anyone to become an artist. Even a clumsy hobbyist can paint the perfect picture. This is why the box tops of paint by numbers kits formerly proclaimed “Every man a Rembrandt.” While every person can craft the perfect picture with paint by numbers, different levels of expertise offer this leisure activity at any skill level.

Now you have it all; all you need are leisure summer days to awaken the artist in you. The virtual paint by numbers program, Segmation, will turn you into a Rembrandt, or at the very least, a graphic design artist. Enjoy picking colors, following a pattern and watching your masterpiece appear on screen. With Segmation, this leisure activity awaits your next air conditioned summer day.

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The Many Different Hues of Blue

The Many Different Hues of Blue.

The Many Different Hues of Blue

The Many Different Hues of Blue.