Kevin Champeny
Kevin Champeny

6 Amazing Kevin Champeny Mosaics From Afar And Close-Up

Kevin Champeny
Kevin Champeny

A quick glance at one of Kevin Champeny’s large-format mosaics will reveal a beautiful, often playful image—an elegant rose, a detailed skull, or a colorful fish, for example. But a closer look reveals the true artistry of the work, as colors turn into hundreds or even thousands of tiny hand-sculpted items, chosen based on their relationship to the larger image.

Champeny is interested in the relationship between his work and the viewer: "I want people to talk about what these pieces mean to them and how their own experiences make sense of the choices I made when creating the work,” he told mental_floss. The self-labeled "organized hoarder" keeps literally hundreds of thousands of tiny sculpted pieces in his Westchester studio, where they also serve as inspiration for new ideas. Enjoy some of Champeny’s work below, and check out his tumblr and Facebook pages for the complete collection.

1. What Remains

This 60-inch wide by 48-inch tall and 1-inch deep piece is made of 35,000-plus hand cast urethane flowers.

After a skull was then chosen to be the subject, I photographed a skull and printed it out on a large format printer and visually broke down the colors to about 40-plus to work with. I hand sculpted 30 different flowers as the pixels for the skull. I then molded and cast the flowers in color (nothing is painted) in various forms of resin. It took over 35,000 castings to create "What Remains". The flowers were then painstakingly glued on by hand to create the final piece. Each mosaic can take up to several months to complete from concept of idea to finished art.

2. Sweet Death

More than 33,000 individually hand cast urethane pieces of candy make up this piece, which is 66 inches wide by 66 inches tall and 1.5 inches deep.

This my homage to 'Día de Muertos' or the Day of the Dead. I captured the beauty of the intricately designed sugar skulls commonly found around this holiday with a tattoo styled design created entirely of candy, taking the idea of a sugar skull to a completely new level.

3. A Rose By Any Other Name

This piece is 51 inches long, 41 inches tall, and 1.5 inches deep, and is made of more than 15,000 individually hand cast urethane pieces of candy.

What could be sweeter than giving flowers? Candy? A flower made out of candy with a title alluding to Romeo and Juliet? Yes, all of these. This cloyingly sweet rose is a perfect example of how far you can take a theme before it just about implodes. Had I actually made it from real candy, well, that would have been going too far. Or would it?

4. School of Transcendence

Champeny hand-cast 25,000 fish to create this 42-inch long by 60-inch tall and 1.5-inch deep piece.

I created this particular piece with all of the left over castings I had from learning how to cast urethane. It was a very cathartic piece, utilizing castings that I'd accumulated over about 15 years. Finishing this mosaic closed a chapter on a very long process that helped me get to the point where I am now in my career.

5. Hot Wheels

This Hot Wheels piece is made of 4400 tiny cars and weighs 550 pounds. It's 9 feet wide, 4 feet tall, and 3 inches deep.

This is perhaps the most fun I have had creating a mosaic. This custom beauty was created for a car enthusiast and allowed me to get in touch with the joy I had as a child playing with Hot Wheels in the driveway. It took me several months just to acquire the nearly 5000 Hot Wheels needed to make this and another month to build the finished mosaic.

6. Flag

This American Flag piece is made of 44,450 hand cast urethane army men; it measures 72 inches wide by 48 inches tall and 1 inch deep.

I created the Flag mosaic as a direct commission through Jellio for the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC), in Michigan. I was only given 30 days to hand cast—they are cast in color, nothing is painted—and apply all 44,500 soldiers. It was exhausting but well worth it. It remains to this day, the mosaic that I have been the most proud to complete.

All photos courtesy of Kevin Champeny.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Tom Etherington, Penguin Press
The Covers of Jack Kerouac's Classic Titles Are Getting a Makeover
Tom Etherington, Penguin Press
Tom Etherington, Penguin Press

Readers have been enjoying classic Jack Kerouac books like The Dharma Bums and On the Road for decades, but starting this August the novels will have a new look. Several abstract covers have been unveiled as part of Penguin’s "Great Kerouac" series, according to design website It’s Nice That.

The vibrant covers, designed by Tom Etherington of Penguin Press, feature the works of abstract expressionist painter Franz Kline. The artwork is intended to capture “the experience of reading Kerouac” rather than illustrating a particular scene or character, Etherington told It’s Nice That. Indeed, abstract styles of artwork seem a fitting match for Kerouac’s “spontaneous prose”—a writing style that was influenced by improvisational jazz music.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of The Dharma Bums, which was published just one year after On the Road. The Great Kerouac series will be available for purchase on August 2.

[h/t It's Nice That]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
John MacDougall, Getty Images
Stolpersteine: One Artist's International Memorial to the Holocaust
John MacDougall, Getty Images
John MacDougall, Getty Images

The most startling memorial to victims of the Holocaust may also be the easiest to miss. Embedded in the sidewalks of more than 20 countries, more than 60,000 Stolpersteine—German for “stumbling stones”—mark the spots where victims last resided before they were forced to leave their homes. The modest, nearly 4-by-4-inch brass blocks, each the size of a single cobblestone, are planted outside the doorways of row houses, bakeries, and coffee houses. Each tells a simple yet chilling story: A person lived here. This is what happened to them.

Here lived Hugo Lippers
Born 1878
Arrested 11/9/1938 — Altstrelitzer prison
Deported 1942 Auschwitz
Murdered

The project is the brainchild of the German artist Gunter Demnig, who first had the idea in the early 1990s as he studied the Nazis' deportation of Sinti and Roma people. His first installations were guerrilla artwork: According to Reuters, Demnig laid his first 41 blocks in Berlin without official approval. The city, however, soon endorsed the idea and granted him permission to install more. Today, Berlin has more than 5000.

Demnig lays a Stolpersteine.
Artist Gunter Demnig lays a Stolpersteine outside a residence in Hamburg, Germany in 2012.
Patrick Lux, Getty Images

The Stolpersteine are unique in their individuality. Too often, the millions of Holocaust victims are spoken of as a nameless mass. And while the powerful memorials and museums in places such as Berlin and Washington, D.C. are an antidote to that, the Stolpersteine are special—they are decentralized, integrated into everyday life. You can walk down a sidewalk, look down, and suddenly find yourself standing where a person's life changed. History becomes unavoidably present.

That's because, unlike gravestones, the stumbling stones mark an important date between a person’s birth and death: the day that person was forced to abandon his or her home. As a result, not every stumbling stone is dedicated to a person who was murdered. Some plaques commemorate people who fled Europe and survived. Others honor people who were deported but managed to escape. The plaques aim to memorialize the moment a person’s life was irrevocably changed—no matter how it ended.

The ordinariness of the surrounding landscape—a buzzing cafe, a quaint bookstore, a tree-lined street—only heightens that effect. As David Crew writes for Not Even Past, “[Demnig] thought the stones would encourage ordinary citizens to realize that Nazi persecution and terror had begun on their very doorsteps."

A man in a shop holding a hammer making a Stolpersteine.
Artisan Michael Friedrichs-Friedlaender hammers inscriptions into the brass plaques at the Stolpersteine manufacturing studio in Berlin.
Sean Gallup, Getty Images

While Demnig installs every single Stolpersteine himself, he does not work alone. His project, which stretches from Germany to Brazil, relies on the research of hundreds of outside volunteers. Their efforts have not only helped Demnig create a striking memorial, but have also helped historians better document the lives of individuals who will never be forgotten.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios