Photograph by Christian Soria, model is Jordan Clay, styling by David Stelly, hair by Davontae’ Washington, makeup by Dion Xu. All images © Laura Estrada Jewelry, shared with permission
Los Angeles-based designer Laura Estrada handcrafts sustainable jewelry pieces that are conceptually driven, sculptural adornments for the body and face. She uses ancient metalsmithing techniques to create timeless, wearable heirlooms that merge fashion with art. “From a very young age, I have been building little objects with my hands, ” Estrada explains. “This obsession manifested itself when I took a metalsmithing class in college.”
Metal is the designer’s chosen medium, and she describes it as a fierce, unforgiving, stubborn, resilient, and enduring material. “It reminded me of myself,” she explains. After receiving her BFA, Estrada undertook an apprenticeship with a master jeweler, an experience that refined her skills before she launched Laura Estrada Jewelry in 2018.
The designer finds her inspiration from diverse influences—whether observing nature while out on a hike or the images she comes across in art history books. “My ideas also thrive in a collaborative environment, and my conceptual work often starts with conversations or projects with other creatives, that then evolve into a deeper, more experimental direction for the work,” Estrada explains.
When creating her body-spanning pieces, the designer’s artistic process is sometimes chaotic, and she initially starts working and modeling with metal. “I have found even if I sketch it out before, everything changes when it becomes three dimensional,” she explains. “The metal takes on shapes and forms that I piece together repeatedly until it feels right, then I solder it all together. I work very intuitively and do my best to trust the flow of my creative process.”
Estrada’s jewelry evokes a sense of resilience, empowerment, and confidence. The physical and conceptual construction of her pieces merges the innovation and integrity of ancient design practices with future technologies, and she finds unique methods to harmonize the two. As she explains, “With a focus on the intersection between art, technology, and identity, my recent exploration of masks and face pieces as ritual adornment aim to empower the wearer in their chosen form of identity and individuality.”
Photograph by Christian Cody, model is Salem Mitchell, makeup by Yasmin Istanbouli
Photograph by Elena Kulikova, model is Emily O’Dette, makeup by Chelsea Sinks
Photo by Christian Soria, model is Jordan Clay, styling by David Stelly, hair by Davontae’ Washington, makeup by Dion Xu
Photograph by Sophia Shrank, model is Denise Culbreth, hair and makeup by Anissá Emily
Photograph by Ally Green, model is John Cochran
Photograph by Benjamin Rouse, model is Mary Merritt
Photograph and creative direction by Joelle Grace, model is Julian Green, makeup by Mary Green, styling by Cheryn Moore and Gabriella Arenas
“Safe House” (2020). All images © Leon Keer, shared with permission
Dutch artist Leon Keer is known for his large-scale anamorphic and Trompe-l’œil projects, transforming the sides of buildings and sidewalks into illusory public art. His latest mural, titled “Safe House,” turns the side of a housing complex in Morlaix, France, into a massive, wrapped gift. Despite its flat surface, the gold paper appears to crinkle and bulge under the bright, imperfectly cut tape. “It is not obvious for everybody to have a roof over their head. Your home is precious and gives you the comfort and protection, a gift for the necessary needs in life. In honor of the great Christo and Jeanne-Claude,” the artist writes in a statement.
La casa que sangra (The house that bleeds)
It was getting dark when I got the call. Luz, my wife, was telling me that they had killed her brother Beto. She was uncontrollable — I had never heard her speak like that. Her voice was shaking, breaking. I could not sleep all night. “Beto was killed, hanged,” resonated in my head, “he was beaten, burned, but they told us that he committed suicide.” Her other brothers, David and Nacho, had been missing for over 3 months.
After these events in 2013, I began to document my family and the families of other missing people as well as fractured communities that are immerse in violence in Mexico; I am trying to create work that represents the connection between absence and presence, and this state of invisibility in a symbolic manner, working with the concepts of pain, emptiness, absence, and forgetting. The symbolic construction of the territory where violence penetrate all and this violence crosses the physical and spiritual space of those who inhabit it. The territory as an analogy to a body / space that can be a house, a person, a family, a community or a country.
Martínez is based in Guerrero, Mexico. His work has explored the connections between, poverty, narcotraffic, organized crime, and how this affects the communities in his native Guerrero in southern Mexico. He is trying to represent the relationship of absence and presence and this state of invisibility in a symbolic manner working with the concepts of pain, emptiness, absence, and forgetting.
He received the Magnum Emergency Fund, Magnum On religión, and was named one of the PDN’s 30 new and emerging photographers to watch 2017. In 2015 he was selected in the Joop Joop Swart Master Class Latinoamerica. He was a finalist in the Eugene Smith grant in 2015 and 2016. He was nominated to the Foam Paul Huf Award, the Prix Pictet and the Infinity award of the ICP.
© Wikimedia CC User Dezidor
© Alexandra Timpau, Alex Shoots Buildings
© Stefano Perego
Image © Wikimedia CC User AKA MBG
A new short film by Optical Arts depicts what would be a dinner-party nightmare: ceramic plates and bowls shatter, red wine cascades from long-stemmed glasses, and sharp knives dive to the floor. Despite its explosive scenes, “Tocatta” subsequently shows the same dinnerware, drinks, and plates of boiled eggs seamlessly repair and float upward as whole objects.
A multivalent consideration of physical contact, the word “tocatta” both originates from an Italian form of “to touch” and refers to a musical composition designed to showcase the performer’s refined techniques. The reparative film is set to the opening section of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Toccata and Fuge in D Minor, one of the German composer’s most recognized works. Because of its discordant runs, the musical piece historically has been used in horror films, like Rouben Mamoulian’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931), Terence Fischer’s The Phantom of the Opera (1962), and Norman Jewison’s dystopic Rollerball (1975).
Written for organ, the eerie composition adds a foreboding element to the film. The dramatic piece explores “the nature of time, the relentless violence of entropy and creative energy and its relationship to music itself,” the London-based creative studio writes in a statement. Another nod to the iconic composer, the dark, opening scenes are shots from Eisenach, Germany, where Bach was born and lived for the first few years of his life.
Update: A previous version of this article incorrectly identified the film as a CGI animation.
Saxophonist Armin Küpper has mastered the effects of live looping without the necessary equipment to record and replay tracks. Instead, the musician heads to a nearby site storing a lengthy pipeline and positions his bell near the opening. As he plays, the delayed notes echo back in perfect pitch, creating an polyphony as he blares out the next line. Check out more of Küpper’s tunes below, and head to YouTube to keep up with his inventive performances. (via Laughing Squid)
As a marine biologist and photographer, Alexander Semenov specializes in life underwater. In particular, he focuses on invertebrates, and for over 10 years he’s been deep-sea diving to capture their beauty through his lens. Often exploring cold water as the head of the scientific diving team at the White Sea biological station of Lomonosov’s Moscow State University, Semenov’s work is unforgiving.
Braving harsh conditions, he’s able to explore marine life in its natural setting. This gives him the ability to observe these animals in a manner that would be impossible in a laboratory environment. “We’re like 19th-century naturalists, but with 21st-century technologies, watching nature,” Semenov tells My Modern Met. “Jacques-Yves Cousteau once said: ‘What is a scientist after all? It is a curious man looking through a keyhole, the keyhole of nature, trying to know what’s going on.’ My keyhole is a camera viewfinder.
“There are hundreds of thousands of absolutely incredible creatures in the World Ocean that keep surprising even the most experienced marine biologists. The ocean is a parallel universe, another world inhabited by amazing creatures. Many of these creatures are so gentle and ephemeral that even a single touch can be the last event in their lives. It’s extremely difficult and sometimes just impossible to study them in the lab.”
By using cutting-edge technology, Semenov is able to share his observations with the scientific community and the wider public, something that drives his work. Whatever challenges may arise, he uses his 13 years of diving experience to get the photos that he’s after. Low visibility, extreme temperatures, and strong currents are just some of the elements he battles to get the perfect photograph.
But in the end, it’s all worth it to help shed more light on the diversity of life underwater. “During the last two thousand years, we have discovered a little more than 234,000 species of marine organisms, and according to scientists’ estimates, that is only 8-15% of what really lives in the oceans. This means, that somewhere in the depths there are two to three million species that have never been seen by human eyes. Ever. We do not even know what they might look like!
“However, most people do not even know the look of many creatures that scientists already aware of. Everyone knows about sharks, whales, octopuses, jellyfish, and some other large marine animals, which have made their way into movies and encyclopedias. But the average person has never heard of salps, siphonophores, comb jellies, appendicularians, ascidians, and many many others. My work aims to show a completely different world full of strange and wildly interesting things.”
Marine biologist and photographer Alexander Semenov specializes in photos of cold water invertebrates.
For over 13 years he’s been using the latest technology to reveal the beauty of these little known animals.
Watch his diving experiences while he was stuck on the Italian island of Ponza during the coronavirus lockdown.
My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Alexander Semenov.
All images © Sho Shibuya, shared with permission
For many people, blocking out the news has meant logging off of Twitter and resisting the urge to check every breaking update. But Sho Shibuya has taken a more literal approach to the stress-reducing action. The Brooklyn-based artist and founder of the design studio Placeholder has taken to painting over the front page of The New York Times with vibrant gradients that mimic the day’s sunrise.
Beginning in March when cities began to lock down, Shibuya realized that his sensory perceptions of the world changed. “Some days passed and I realized that from the small windows of my studio, I could not hear the sounds of honking cars or people shouting,” he says. “I could hear the birds chirping energetically and sound of wind in the trees, and I looked up and saw the bright sky, beautiful as ever despite the changed world beneath it.”
Shibuya began to photograph the sunrise each morning, recreating each rich gradient in acrylic. His color choices are inspired largely by the Japanese ukiyo-e artist Hiroshige, who was commended for his bokashi gradient technique and signature blue tones. Each of Shibuya’s works maintains the header and date of the publication. “I started to capture the moment in the newspaper, contrasting the anxiety of the news with the serenity of the sky, creating a record of my new normal,” he says. “Their front page has always been a time capsule of a day in history, so it made sense to use history as the canvas because the paintings are meant to capture a moment in time.”
The spirit of the project is that maybe, even after the pandemic subsides, people can continue some of the generosity and peace we discovered in ourselves and that the sky reminds us of every day with a sunrise through a small window. If one thing the news has made clear, we need generosity and peace for all people now more than ever.
The Age of Melancholy | As sadly rates of mental health issues are constantly increasing, The Age of Melancholy by Paul Lukin is a dark visual narrative that explores different aspects of life and loneliness from both personal and universal perspectives. In an age in which we’re all digitally connected, real connections seem to become harder to make. Loneliness is becoming a growing health epidemic of our era.
COUNTRY | Croatia – Thailand
BIO | Paul Lukin was born in Split, Croatia, in 1980. Lukin started photographing in 2004 and has been obsessed with the medium ever since.
He works on long-term, self-assigned projects, focusing on work that explores different aspects of the human condition from both personal and universal perspectives. Emotional monochromatic studies of life that is dark, poetic and at times humorous. Silence, darkness, and loneliness are recurring themes in his work. Lukin is a finalist of Sony World Photography Awards 2018, finalist of Siena International Photo Awards 2019, and was shortlisted for the World Press Photo 2019. He was also an invitee artist by European Cultural Center for the Venice Art Biennale 2019. His work has been exhibited in galleries internationally, including the prestigious Somerset House in London. His photographs appeared in publications and media outlets ranging from National Geographic, GUP Magazine to BBC.
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I’m a person who believes that we all have the same rights, no matter what our gender or identity is, what our skin color is, what our sexual preferences are, or what our nationality. We are people, living on the same planet and we need to learn how to deal with this together without violating somebody’s rights.
I believe in only religion in this world which is called Love and only after that I’m a freelancer and a documentary photographer, working on long term projects and telling stories which are important to me. I was born in the country (USSR) which no longer exists on the world’s map and to be honest I’m very happy because of this, especially now, during this Coronavirus pandemic, when I can more clearly understand what it means when you are just locked down and not allowed to go somewhere outside your homeland. But I grew up in a small, magical, already independent country called Georgia, or as we say, Sakartvelo, and till now living in Tbilisi, which is absolutely beautiful, small piece of the world. I’m happy to be his little child and very thankful for braveness which this city gave to me, especially during the civil war when I was a kid, who didn’t even realize what the word “war” meant at that moment and of course it came later to my mind and memory and appears in my projects as well.
I love creating books, I mean handmade and limited-edition books out of my stories, because probably I’m too old fashioned and just love to hold something physically in hands rather than just watching photos on screen and yes, I’m a person who loves life.
I love to shoot very often people who I love and who are important for me and I’m very thankful them for their trust to let me be in their lives and at the same time, during doing a projects, I can say that I never searching for topics, I don’t know how this happens, but they just come to my life by themselves and ask to talk about them, probably I’m just a good listener and maybe that’s why I’m a very slow photographer, who always needs time to think how to show things, what I want to tell to the world and what can happen afterwards.
As we are now living in internet world it has become very easy to speak to a lot of people, to show much more than it had been possible before, but I feel responsible for all the messages, as I really do believe in the power of photography, I can’t just steal somebody’s emotions, seconds of someone’s life and leave without even knowing a name. It’s very important for me to know who all those people on my photos are. One of my projects, called “Frozen Waves,” is about kidnapped little girls for marriage in Georgia. Maybe this sounds a little bit weird in the 21th century, but yes, it’s still happening even now. I was so shocked, few years ago, when I heard from a 16-year-old girl that she was getting married to a man who was twice her age and not because she was in love with him, but because he had kidnapped and raped her, so she could not return to her family, because even they would not take her back. Georgia is still very conservative, I would say and of course the capital doesn’t reflect the situation of the whole country, as NYC is not the whole USA or Berlin the whole Germany.
She invited me to her wedding and it was hard to sit next to the people who were drinking wine and making toasts for the fake happiness of the new born family, but being there was a sign for me to start talking about it. I started doing my research and found so many girls with the same experience, that I was scared even more and felt bigger responsibility to react on this, especially, kidnapping somehow was a personal issue as well. I remembered that my grandma was also a school girl when she was kidnapped by my grandpa and they lived their whole life together. They hadn’t known each other before, he just saw her once and decided that he wanted this girl to become his future wife, it’s like we buy something in a shopping mall – we like it and we want it to be ours, and this was so common, so normal at that time, people even used to call it a beautiful tradition. I felt scared that nothing had been changed since so long, how could it still be possible that my life did not belong to me? I was asking myself, because I could be one of those girls as well. I remember how sad my grandma became every time when she was telling me this part of her story, how she wanted to continue her studies but she couldn’t because it was not allowed for her from her husband, who became her owner and then they had kids and then there was never enough time for herself, for anything of course and then her dreams just passed next to her life.
I want this terrible practice to be finally ended in Caucasus, I want young girls to enjoy their freedom and happiness when they are teens and not to become wives in the age when they should be spending time with their friends, getting crazy and be as wild as they want to be. And yes, now we have a law about it in constitution and I’m very happy because of this, at least it became officially illegal to kidnap girls.
For the last few years I’m focused on topics about occupation of my country, domestic violence and sexual harassment in Georgia, which is one of the hugest problems, not only here, but around the world as we can see the #MeToo movement and it’s still very hard for victims and survivors to talk about their harmful experience in Sakartvelo, as this is a very small country, everyone knows each other but even though it goes very slowly, we can make some changes together, it’s just important to start.
Always in Georgia, Always in Caucasus and sometimes in Ukraine as well and of course I can explain why.
I’m traveling a lot, I’ve been in so many countries and much more cities, but I’m just a tourist there. Stranger, for whom everything is interesting, because everything around is new and fresh. Of course I making photos there, but they are just for my personal memory card.
I love to remember people who I meet and places where I’ve been and keep this emotions on my films, but with projects it’s absolutely different. I want to introduce the other Georgia the country I love the most, but where we still have a lot of problems and I want to talk about them, I want to show something more than just beautiful mountains and black sea, which you can easily find in Google when searching about Sakartvelo. Of course we have this as well and you can spend beautiful summer and holidays here, but I want to show something deeper, something more invisible which you can’t see if you spend only your week-ends here, you must live here, you must feel what real Georgia is and the same about Ukraine.
I think these two countries have a lot in common, especially in the nearest past, territories of the both countries, such as Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia and Crimea in Ukraine are occupied by our biggest neighbor, called Russia. We have the same problems and I do believe we’ll have the same future of becoming members of the EU, because this is very important for both countries, for their safety.
I’m a photographer, I can’t change anything in politics, but as a citizen of Georgia, I will always use my voice to be heard as far as it will be possible, for changes, for better future of my country, of my region and beloved sister Ukraine.
My grandma always taught me how important mornings are in our lives and that every day brings new beginnings, so for me every day is like a journey in a new life and I try to do as much as I can, in each of them, so If not NOW, when?
I ask myself very often, if I was not a photographer what could be my profession but I never find an answer. Photography is like an air, I can’t really breathe without it. I studied economics at the University and even that time, photography was such a big part of my daily life, I knew that all my ways were leading there.
I strongly believe it’s very important to do something with your whole heart and that every person has her or his mission on this planet, doesn’t matter which form you choose, it can be photography or graffiti or anything else, you must try a lot of different things to find your own language to talk. I was very lucky to find mine in photography. When you really love something, it will always answer you with magical sounds.
I think it’s also very important to have your own opinion about the things around you and react on them and I’m trying to give a voice to people who really need it, who need to be heard by society, that’s the only thing that I can do for them.
Norwegian landscape photographer Christian Hoiberg grew up surrounded by nature. Enamored by the environment around him, he’s drawn to arctic climates that allow his imagination to run free. One of his favorite places to visit is Greenland, and he’s made a ritual of spending time each summer on this magical island.
Hoiberg uses his time in Greenland to explore the mysterious landscape and track down the moving ice that makes this country a destination of choice for many photographers. By using his aerial photography skills, Hoiberg is able to capture exceptional imagery of the island’s icebergs floating in the blue waters. And with the country changing at a rapid pace due to climate variations, his work is even more essential to document the state of the environment.
When Hoiberg isn’t out exploring on his own, he’s sharing his knowledge with others by leading workshops through the Lofoten Islands and publishing ebooks and Lightroom presets. We had a chance to chat with Hoiberg about his love for landscape photography and what makes Greenland a photographer’s paradise. Read on for our exclusive interview.
What drives your passion for photography and for landscape photography in particular?
Growing up in Norway, I’ve always had an appreciation for the outdoors and have spent my fair share of weekends hiking and tenting even as a kid. However, this appreciation became even greater after I purchased my first camera and started bringing it along into the woods.
Since then, photography has been my way to disconnect and clear my mind. Call it meditation for the mind, body, and soul. It might sound strange that I’m able to completely clear my mind when out photographing, as I’m working and there are many factors that need attention when creating an image, but this is when I’m able to completely relax and enjoy the moment.
I think it’s this connection with nature and the freedom it gives that drives my passion. I love the meditation and the creative journey it takes me on when creating an image.
How much time do you spend in Greenland?
I’ve been lucky enough to spend roughly 10 days a year in western Greenland the past two years and am looking forward to returning again next summer.
How does it inspire you creatively?
Photographing Greenland is quite different than most other places. In fact, it’s quite difficult. The ice fjords can be chaotic and there aren’t any obvious shots or compositions placed in front of you. The elements are also constantly changing, so what might look promising one evening might not even be there the next morning.
The unique scenery—and the endless opportunity it holds—is what inspires me creatively when photographing Greenland. Nothing there comes easily and that makes it a creative challenge. But once you’re able to isolate the details or spot those fascinating formations and patterns, the photographs can be quite rewarding.
What have your experiences with climate change been since you’ve been visiting Greenland?
As a nature photographer and, more importantly, a lover of the outdoors, I’ve always been aware of climate change and the possible damages it can result in. While this is a topic that surrounds us on a daily basis and is discussed in various platforms across the world, it wasn’t until my first visit to Greenland that I realized the severity of it. It’s easy to sit at home in our living rooms watching it being talked about on the TV but it’s a whole other thing actually being in a place which is so drastically affected by it.
Visiting Greenland and talking to the locals was an eyeopener for me. Hearing their stories about how much bigger the icebergs used to be and how much colder the temperatures were only 10-15 years ago was alarming.
This experience has made me more aware and motivated me even further to use my photography to cast light on this topic.
What is it about aerial photography that makes it a good way to capture Greenland’s landscape?
As I mentioned, Greenland is quite difficult to photograph. It can often be chaotic with all the ice surrounding you and it’s hard to find good compositions with a wide-angle lens. While it’s stunning to sit and look at this scenery, it rarely works to cram it all into one shot.
This is where a telezoom comes in handy; it makes it easier to focus on the interesting textures and details. While I fell in love with the more intimate and abstract approach of photographing the icebergs with a long lens, it is through the perspective of a bird that I’ve found the greatest inspiration. I found this to be an even better way to single out interesting icebergs. There are so many details that we don’t see from down below.
Photographing Greenland from above is also a good way to show the change in the landscape. Each year, the glacier calves around 46 cubic kilometers (11 cubic miles) of ice; if you melted this, the resulting amount of water could cover the annual consumption of water in the USA. This is something that shows well from an aerial perspective.
How do you prepare for your shoots in Greenland in terms of researching weather and locations?
It’s hard to plan out exact shots when it comes to photographing Greenland as the amount of ice and its density changes quickly. The glacial tongue might be blocked by massive icebergs for a period of time, making the entire bay fill up with ice (but resulting in almost no ice in the fjord). When the “gates” finally open, the entire fjord and harbor might be filled with ice overnight, making the waters difficult to navigate.
Both of these situations make for great experiences but can be challenging to photograph, as it looks even more chaotic than normal. Yet, it’s not something you can plan for, so all we can do is work with the situation we’re given.
The same goes for the weather. While it tends to be relatively stable during the periods we visit, it’s not uncommon to have low temperatures, heavy rain, or sleet and strong winds.
We’ve also worked alongside great captains who know the region like the back of their hand and together with them we’ve been able to find amazing areas to photograph and explore.
What do you hope that people take away from your work?
I hope that the people who view my work are inspired to take a moment and realize just how beautiful our planet is. Despite all the negativity or stress that surrounds us on a daily basis, we’re privileged to reside in a place as beautiful as Earth. I also hope that this thought leads to them wanting to respect our planet and do their part in taking care of it; even if it’s at a small scale such as avoiding littering.
I also realize that not everyone is lucky enough to live close to nature or to be able to travel to scenic areas so I want to give them an ever so tiny escape from their reality. Nothing warms my heart as much as messages from people who find a moment of happiness in their lives by viewing my photography. That’s the biggest honor I can think of.
Due to the current situation with the COVID-19 pandemic, the coming year looks slightly different than what I had imagined just a few months ago. The rest of this year’s workshops have been canceled or postponed but that has also given me extra time to focus on finishing new ebooks and to catch up on writing other photography-related tutorials.
The snow is slowly starting to melt here in the Lofoten Islands and the midnight sun has just arrived, so for the next few months, I’m aiming at spending as much time as possible exploring more of the picturesque mountain regions here in Arctic Norway.
My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Christian Hoiberg.
Portuguese street artist Vhils is paying tribute to his country’s healthcare workers the best way he knows how—with a mural. In Porto, 10 members of the São João University Hospital Center’s staff had their portraits chiseled into the wall by the acclaimed artist as a way to celebrate the contributions of Portugal’s national healthcare workers.
Though the mural has been in the works for over a year, the timing couldn’t be better. Given the great sacrifice that these workers gave during the coronavirus, it seems only fitting that their portraits—appropriately masked—should be revealed at this time. As it was impossible for Vhils to portray everyone who works in the hospital, he chose a cross-section of doctors and nurses as well as the administrative staff, food services, and maintenance workers who make things run smoothly.
“The piece is an acknowledgment and a heartfelt tribute, on my behalf and on behalf of the Vhils Studio team,” shares Vhils, “to all those who are on the frontline, of both the present pandemic and everyday healthcare, for the importance they hold in the lives of every one of us. It is a commendation of the courage, dedication, and selflessness with which they place their lives at risk in the defense of our own.”
The grouping of portraits not only creates a visual frontline but also speaks to the teamwork and camaraderie found within the hospital. This beautiful symbol sits at the front entrance of the hospital, as a warm welcome to those who enter in a wish that they find comfort under the care of these workers.
Street artist Vhils created a striking mural celebrating healthcare workers in front of a hospital in Porto, Portugal.
Using his signature technique, Vhils chiseled and drilled their portraits into a wall.
The mural is a tribute to the dedication of Portugal’s national healthcare workers, particularly during the pandemic.
All images via Expanding Roots. My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Vhils.