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Gorgeous Stitched Paintings Depict Environmental Destruction

Linda Gass was born to be an artist. She started creating as soon as she was old enough to hold a paintbrush; now, several decades later, Gass has fulfilled her childhood dream and then some. The Bay Area artist creates vibrant works of art on cloth, but they’re not just pretty pictures. Each of Gass’s stitched paintings, as she calls them, also serves as a stark illustration of the damage we’re causing our planet. 

Gass grew up in the 1970s, along with the first stirrings of modern environmentalism. By the time she reached college, the movement was in full swing. It was a “lifestyle,” she tells mental_floss. “It really opened my eyes.” 

But there were practical concerns to attend to. Gass’s parents wanted her to find a career that would support her, which made becoming an artist out of the question. She turned instead to math and computer science, eventually entering the software industry. And her parents were right: she was well-supported. But she wasn’t satisfied. So after years of saving up, she quit. 

“It was a really tough decision,” she says. “I had worked all my life to get to the point where I was in the software industry and it certainly paid well. All of my friends were there. So I had to really build up my courage to step away.”

The risky decision paid off. By 1998, Gass had found her way into textile art, and she never looked back. “I love working in textiles,” she says. “There’s something about fabric that’s very comforting. It’s beautiful and a pleasure to work with.” 

But her environmental roots were calling. It wasn’t long before Gass realized she could integrate her concerns into her art. Her first ecological piece, After the Gold Rush, was inspired by an aerial photograph of California’s Interstate 5.

Painting after painting followed, addressing themes of land use, water pollution, and human violence against the landscape. Yet each image is luminous and lovely to see. This is intentional, according to Gass: “I try to lure people in with that beauty to get them to confront the hard issues we face.” 

Click on each painting's title for a brief description.

Over the last two decades, Gass has expanded her repertoire to include sculpture and landscape installations. Last year, she was honored with a creative ecology residency in East Palo Alto, California. She chose to work on Cooley Landing, a public beach that had, until recently, been landfill. Understandably, the community was somewhat hesitant to spend time there. But through Gass’s free workshops, locals of all ages were able to discover the natural beauty and heritage of their new shoreline. 

East Palo Alto is something of an economic island, a low-income city in a sea of wealthy neighbors. The ecology residency had a dual purpose: introducing the city's residents to their new open space, and offering them an opportunity to engage in hands-on art and science. 

Gass and her workshop participants sketched the wildlife they saw and created a huge installation along the coast—thousands of bright-blue flags, marking where the waterline had once been.

Gass also used her students’ drawings to create a blank silk canvas for community members to paint.

“I overheard some of the girls while they were painting with the dyes, saying, ‘This is magical!’ Which is exactly how I felt about silk painting the very first time I tried it," she says. "It is this very magical, mesmerizing technique. It was so great to be reminded of how lucky I am to be able to work in this art form.”

Gass shows her work in galleries and museums around the country. To see her paintings in person this year, check out the Institute of Contemporary Art in San Jose, California, or the Euphrat Musem of Art in Cupertino, California. 

All images courtesy of Linda Gass. 

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Design
This Amazing Clock Has a Different Hand for Every Minute of the Day
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In the video below, you can watch Japanese ad agency Dentsu transform passing time into art. According to Adweek, the project was commissioned by Japanese stationery brand Hitotoki, which produces crafting materials. To celebrate the value of handmade items in an increasingly fast-paced world, Dentsu created a film advertisement for their client depicting their goods as a stop-motion clock.

The timepiece ticks off all 1440 minutes in the day, and was assembled in real-time against a colored backdrop during a single 24-hour take. Its "hands" were crafted from different combinations of some 30,000 disparate small items, including confetti, cream puffs, tiny toys, silk leaves, and sunglasses.

"In a world where everything is so hectic and efficient, we wanted to bring the value of 'handmade' to life," explains Dentsu art director Ryosuke Miyashita in a press statement quoted by Stash Media. "We created different combinations of small Hitotoki brand items to express each and every minute."

You can check out a promotional video for the project below, which details the arduous crafting process, or view a real-time version of the clock here.

[h/t Adweek]

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architecture
Take a Look at These Tiny, Futuristic Homes From the 1960s
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If you find yourself in Friche de l’Escalette, a sculpture park in Marseille, France, this year, you may feel like there’s been some kind of alien invasion among the industrial ruins scattered throughout the park. The institution’s latest exhibition, Utopie Plastic, features three retro-futuristic houses from the 1960s that look straight out of The Jetsons.

As Curbed reports, the prefabricated houses are stocked with mid-century plastic furniture like Quasar Khahn’s inflatable chair.

The rounded interior of a Futuro home with two experimental retro chairs inside.

The show includes one of the Futuro homes, spaceship-like tiny houses originally designed as ski chalets by architect Matti Suuronen. At the time, they cost only $12,000 to $14,000, and could be built on any terrain because of their stilt legs.

A Maison Bulle à Six Coques home lights up with a blue glow at night in the sculpture park.

You can also view Maison Bulle à Six Coques, a flower-shaped hut (its name means Six-Shell Bubble House) by French architect Jean Maneval. The prototype design was first introduced at an art fair in 1956, and went into production in 1968. It came in green, white, or brown, and later inspired an entire vacation village in the Pyrenees, where developers built 20 Bubble Houses.

A modular Hexacube house is lit up at twilight.

And then there’s Georges Candilis and Anja Blamsfeld's 1972 Hexacube design, a modular polyester and fiberglass hut that looked kind of like a giant Port-a-Potty. Multiple Hexacubes could be combined together to make a larger house, and they ushered in a new era of modular, expandable construction.

The era of plastic tiny houses like these came to an end during the 1970s, when the oil crisis in the U.S. made plastic prohibitively expensive—at least for people who were looking for prefab houses on the cheap.

The exhibit is open by appointment until October 1, 2017.

[h/t Curbed]

All images © C. Baraja, courtesy Friche de l’Escalette

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