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Better Understanding Israel Through Art

This Place is an ambitious project meant to capture the complexity of Israel and the West Bank, both as place and as metaphor, through the eyes and lenses of 12 internationally acclaimed artists.

Complex issues concerning aspects of Israeli sovereignty have plagued the tiny, controversial country since its official creation in 1949. While these challenging and seemingly intractable problems have been approached and analyzed from many angles, a new traveling photo exhibit hopes to use documentary-style photography as an impartial medium for further exploration. This Place, which first opened October 24th in Prague at the Dox Centre for Contemporary Art, is an ambitious project meant to capture the complexity of Israel and the West Bank, both as place and as metaphor, through the eyes and lenses of 12 internationally acclaimed artists. Those participating include Wendy Ewald, who initiated 14 participatory projects throughout the region with communities that included schools, womens' groups, market stall owners, and high-tech workers, to Fazal Sheikh, who created a grid of 48 aerial photographs, each taken above the traces of disappeared Bedouin villages, meant to narrate a powerful story of community, land, and exclusion. Additional artists invited to take on a six-month residency in Israel, spanning from 2009-2012, include Martin Kollar, Josef Koudelka, Jungjin Lee, Gilles Peress, Stephen Shore, Rosalind Solomon, Thomas Struth, Jeff Wall, Nick Waplington and Frederic Brenner. During this time thousands of original artworks were created, many seen in our slideshow above, as well as a series of monographs and a comprehensive catalog.

The show will continue to travel through 2016 internationally, and is curated by Charlotte Cotton, former head of the Photography Department at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). “By its very nature, This Place is a multifaceted project. It provides entry points and participation in the ongoing cultural discussion about photographic representation of politically and philosophically contested spaces,” explains Cotton. “This Place embodies the idea of photography as itself a multifaceted notion – these incredible bodies of photographic work will be the prompt for discussions, the visual vehicles for sharing ideas and knowledge, as well as the material experience of the personal journeys undertaken by the commissioned artists.”

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Slideshows

2 Years, 1,242 Drawings. Step Inside This Obsessive Artist’s Brain.

James Drake decided to draw everything that came into his head for two years, then hung his “Brain Trash” up in a museum.

In 2012, virtuosic sculpture and video artist James Drake decided to do something totally new for him: Draw every single day for two years. In a departure from his typically meticulous approach, Drake allowed himself to improvise, capturing his inner preoccupations in a stream-of-consciousness style. The resulting 1,242 images have been hung in a monumental installation he proudly refers to as “Brain Trash,” at Austin’s Blanton Museum through January 4.

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These Fantastical, Futuristic Black Dolls Will Make You Rethink the Toy Aisle

Since 1978, artists have created inspiring representations of black culture in doll form that are sorely lacking in the conventional toy industry

In the now infamous Doll Experiments, psychologists Kenneth and Mamie Clark presented two dolls, one black and one white, to young black children and asked them questions about which they preferred. The test found that students who attended segregated schools overwhelmingly preferred the white doll and revealed how students internalized the racism that structured their everyday lives. The Clarks not only served as expert witnesses in the landmark case of Brown v. Board of Education, their research findings also inspired what is now the longest-running black doll show in the United States. The Annual Black Doll Show, now in its 34th year, takes place at the William Grant Still Arts Center in the historically black Los Angeles neighborhood of West Adams. The show was founded in 1978, by the legendary L.A.-based artist and curator Cecil Fergerson, who served as the Los Angeles County Museum of Arts’ (LACMA) first black curator.

“Everybody calls him the godfather of the black community. The black artists know Cecil. He started as a janitor at [LACMA] and then he came on up to be a curator,” says Bobbie Campbell, one of the center’s founders.

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Slideshows

Intermission: These Brilliant Embroidered Portraits Ain't Your Grandma's Needlepoint

Portraits from young artist Daniel Kornrumpf updates a stuffy old hobby.

For many the term "embroidery" conjures images of tacky pillows or treacly wall-hangings that say things like "Home is where the heart is." For Pennsylvania artist Daniel Kornrumpf, however, embroidery has become a powerful medium. For a recent series of evocative portraits, Kornrumpf took the stereotypically drab art form and made it all his own, depicting the faces of attractive young people with thousands of patiently strung threads. The works are fantastic, and they're made all the more great by the fact that the embroidery at times looks like paintbrush strokes.

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