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Tyler Thrasher

Artist Combines Chemistry and Art to Grow Crystals on Skulls

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Tyler Thrasher

Tyler Thrasher takes the macabre and makes it beautiful. The 22-year-old artist grows crystals on animal carcasses, shells, and skeletons, giving them an eerie yet beautiful appearance. He posts the results on Instagram and Facebook, and has been turning some heads in the art world.

Thrasher's fascination with chemistry originated in high school, after he started taking an advanced chemistry class. His friends didn't think he'd be any good at it, so he decided to prove them wrong—and fell in love with it in the process. Although the artist originally wanted to become an animator and went to school for it, he eventually got cold feet and turned his interests elsewhere. It was not until he began caving and exploring that his real passion came into focus.

“I spent a lot of time exploring underground caves and caverns and found my love of nature. I started incorporating natural things into my work, I did a lot of drawing of insects and animals,” Thrasher told The Daily Dot. “I started illustrating and painting crystals, and then I re-found my fascination with crystalline structures and my love of chemistry.”

Thrasher's real inspiration came from a rock covered in crystals that he found in a store. It was chalcanthite, which was grown in a lab. Thrasher remembered what he had learned in chemistry, and decided to try growing some crystals of his own. He then began experimenting by growing blue crystals on a cicada shell.

According to The Daily Dot, Thrasher typically procures his chemicals over the counter or from eBay. Though he doesn't have complete control over where the crystals will grow, he does have the ability to coax them in the right direction. For instance, he can glue crystals to a certain location to encourage larger crystals to grow there. He can also remove unwanted ones by using a paintbrush dipped in solvent.

Most of Thrasher's subjects are spooky items like raccoon skulls, moths, and reptile spines. In the future, he hopes to go big and crystallize something like a tree or an entire skeleton.

“It’s a very weird full-time job,” Thrasher said. “Whenever someone asks me what I do, I can’t just tell them, ‘I crystallize dead sh*t.’”

[h/t Daily Dot]

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Ape Meets Girl
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Pop Culture
Epic Gremlins Poster Contains More Than 80 References to Classic Movies
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Ape Meets Girl

It’s easy to see why Gremlins (1984) appeals to movie nerds. Executive produced by Steven Spielberg and written by Chris Columbus, the film has horror, humor, and awesome 1980s special effects that strike a balance between campy and creepy. Perhaps it’s the movie’s status as a pop culture treasure that inspired artist Kevin Wilson to make it the center of his epic hidden-image puzzle of movie references.

According to io9, Wilson, who works under the pseudonym Ape Meets Girl, has hidden 84 nods to different movies in this Gremlins poster. The scene is taken from the movie’s opening, when Randall enters a shop in Chinatown looking for a gift for his son and leaves with a mysterious creature. Like in the film, Mr. Wing’s shop in the poster is filled with mysterious artifacts, but look closely and you’ll find some objects that look familiar. Tucked onto the bottom shelf is a Chucky doll from Child’s Play (1988); above Randall’s head is a plank of wood from the Orca ship made famous by Jaws (1975); behind Mr. Wing’s counter, which is draped with a rug from The Shining’s (1980) Overlook Hotel, is the painting of Vigo the Carpathian from Ghostbusters II (1989). The poster was released by the Hero Complex Gallery at New York Comic Con earlier this month.

“Early on, myself and HCG had talked about having a few '80s Easter Eggs, but as we started making a list it got longer and longer,” Wilson told Mental Floss. “It soon expanded from '80s to any prop or McGuffin that would fit the curio shop setting. I had to stop somewhere so I stopped at 84, the year Gremlins was released. Since then I’ve thought of dozens more I wish I’d included.”

The ambitious artwork has already sold out, but fortunately cinema buffs can take as much time as they like scouring the poster from their computers. Once you think you’ve found all the references you can possibly find, you can check out Wilson’s key below to see what you missed (and yes, he already knows No. 1 should be Clash of the Titans [1981], not Jason and the Argonauts [1963]). For more pop culture-inspired art, follow Ape Meets Girl on Facebook and Instagram.

Key for hidden image puzzle.
Ape Meets Girl

[h/t io9]

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Kehinde Wiley Studio, Inc., Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0
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presidents
Barack Obama Taps Kehinde Wiley to Paint His Official Presidential Portrait
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Kehinde Wiley
Kehinde Wiley Studio, Inc., Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

Kehinde Wiley, an American artist known for his grand portraits of African-American subjects, has painted Michael Jackson, Ice-T, and The Notorious B.I.G. in his work. Now the artist will have the honor of adding Barack Obama to that list. According to the Smithsonian, the former president has selected Wiley to paint his official presidential portrait, which will hang in the National Portrait Gallery.

Wiley’s portraits typically depict black people in powerful poses. Sometimes he models his work after classic paintings, as was the case with "Napoleon Leading the Army Over the Alps.” The subjects are often dressed in hip-hop-style clothing and placed against decorative backdrops.

Portrait by Kehinde Wiley
"Le Roi a la Chasse"
Kehinde Wiley, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 3.0

Smithsonian also announced that Baltimore-based artist Amy Sherald has been chosen by former first lady Michelle Obama to paint her portrait for the gallery. Like Wiley, Sherald uses her work to challenge stereotypes of African-Americans in art.

“The Portrait Gallery is absolutely delighted that Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald have agreed to create the official portraits of our former president and first lady,” Kim Sajet, director of the National Portrait Gallery, said in a press release. “Both have achieved enormous success as artists, but even more, they make art that reflects the power and potential of portraiture in the 21st century.”

The tradition of the president and first lady posing for portraits for the National Portrait Gallery dates back to George H.W. Bush. Both Wiley’s and Sherald’s pieces will be revealed in early 2018 as permanent additions to the gallery in Washington, D.C.

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