From utilizing the earth of Barolo to innovative photography techniques, this is wine as art and the five artists who create it.
Many would agree that a fine wine is a masterpiece. It is the art of choosing the land and sun exposure like a canvas; of cultivating the correct grapes adapted to the microclimate as tools; and of responding and improvising as the seasons and days bring new, unexpected changes, much like the artist interacts with his world to communicate through creation. The winemaker’s hand continues in the harvest, the vinification, and the aging until several years later, like an oil painting or a sculpture, his work is ready to make its entry into the world.
These five artists take wine and make it into art in other ways, using the beverage itself or other materials. From the earth of Barolo to innovative photography techniques, this is wine as art and the artists who create it.
Mauro Rosso – Art from the Earth of Barolo
Mauro Rosso lives and works in the same city in the heart of the Langhe and wine country as the one in which he was born: Alba. A multi-talented artist, Mauro works in graphic design, sculpture, photography, classic painting on canvas, and more; but the medium that caught our eye was his “Terra di Barolo,” or “Earth of Barolo” series. Living in the midst of vineyards from which some of the world’s finest wines are made, he could not help but to be inspired by the very earth from which it comes and upon which he grew up.
As Mauro recounts his initial inspiration in 2012, after a long day of photographing the vineyards of Barolo, he sat down on the ground to rest, and his hands closed around the dirt beneath him. He brought back a handful to his studio and began to experiment by fixing it onto canvas, a technique that gave such unique and unusual results that he was inspired to create more. His "Terra di Barolo" series displays simple, clean lines of children and animals, and the juxtaposition of black and white upon Barolo earth. The roots of his inspiration reach far back into his childhood to a day when walking in the vineyards with his grandfather. “Maybe the earth has a memory, and it remembers what passed over it, the lives of people that have come before, the words and feelings that were expressed…the good years and the bad…and all we need to do is to touch it and smell it to hear it whisper its stories. Maybe the future is already in the earth.”
"Terra di Barolo"
Tel. +39 335.542.6996
Amelia Fais Harnas – Wine as Medium, People as Inspiration
Amelia Fais Harnas created her first wine stains in 2010, wishing to capture the transient moments of connection and conversation she shares with people over glasses of wine in the bar in Corning, NY where her significant other works. “I absolutely love fascinating people, which is why I only do portraits, because of their stories and fleeting time we have to share together.” She began small and experimental, open to what happened on her canvas when she poured wine over it. “When I pulled the paper towel off of the first one, my heart skipped a beat, because my wild idea had worked and actually looked pretty good!” Initially, she used embroidery to define the edges, but once she started making larger portraits, she honed her technique.
The technique that Amelia uses is similar to that of pysanky, the intricately decorated Easter eggs traditional to Ukraine. They are painted using a wax-resist method called “batik,” which Amelia uses on her canvas together with wine stains. She only uses very dry red wine. “I always enjoy French wine, but also enjoy a good Chilean carmenere. I’ve been branching out to Italian reds as well and am currently making a group of wine stains on wood using a Tuscan Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese blend.” Of course, she enjoys her wine while she works – creating art does not get any finer than that!
Beki Morris – Cork Art on a Higher Level
How many of us wine lovers collect our corks because one day, we’ll make something out of them? Our aspirations are noble, but the result is more often than not a plastic bag full of unused corks. Beki Morris of Austin, Texas was inspired to create art from her wine corks in 2008, and what she made was so incredible – and enjoyable to do – that she dove in and has been creating three-dimensional works of cork art since. “No one was interested in corks at that time, or doing anything like it. I was fortunate that the idea of recycling corks and making art with them became popular.” Who knows – perhaps the DIY project began with Beki?
She uses corks from all wines and from all over the world, cutting them to utilize their shapes and colors to their best potential. “I like steak houses because I use a lot of red-ended corks to create areas of interest. Also, I literally get boxes of corks in the mail quite often.” Her large designs all begin with a creative vision translated to paper, which is then outlined onto the board. Beki carefully selects her corks by size and color and then applies them to the design at different angles and perspectives to achieve their signature three-dimensional style. “The challenge is to create impact with texture.” The next time you are inspired to create art from your old corks, let Beki be your muse – or simply send her your wine corks in the mail.
Nikki Ella Whitlock – Ephemeral Creations from Discarded Bottles
There is something both determined and inspirational in what Nikki Ella Whitlock, an artist residing in Derbyshire, England, is known to say: “There is no such thing as rubbish, only potential.” A longtime artist in painting and collage, Nikki started making beautiful sculptures, 95% of which are of recycled materials, in 2010. She is deeply passionate about environmental issues, and finds using discarded objects a source of satisfaction not only because she is upcycling, but also because the materials' unknown histories add another layer of meaning to her work. She kiln fuses wine bottles and other glass bottles, whether shattered, fused, or whole, and at times incorporates the labels into her art. “The ranges of green, gold, and browns I find in the wine bottles is wonderful, as I do like the earth tones.” In fact, her inspiration comes primarily from nature, something that can be seen in the spiral form of her piece “Catalyst” that echoes the swirl of a shell; or in the soaring birds of her work “Days of Birds.”
Her sculptures display beautiful form and saturated color that are emphasized by light. “I find ‘found objects’ a very exciting medium to use, especially glass. With lights, the fractal effects can be amazing,” an understatement for such a piece as “Catalyst,” which has an internal light that brings it to life. When she shatters wine bottles and puts them through the kiln, she says they transform into luminescent jewels. “There is an element of serendipity to all my pieces. I never know what I might find.”
Nikki Ella Whitlock
Mosaic & Glass Illuminated Sculpture
Natasha Bacca – Seeing wine in a new light with photograms
Just by looking at her name, Natasha Bacca must be destined to dedicate a part of her life to wine. The etymology of her last name traces back to the ancient Roman god of wine, Bacchus (Bacco in Italian), and the modern-day Italian word bacca means “berry,” the word used for a single grape. Indeed, her own roots are Italian. Natasha, a wine lover, began her wine series on a whim with an empty bottle of Australian Penfolds Grange, the wine having generously been given to her by her late twin brother. Soon, friends, families, and clients were giving Natasha bottles of wine and asking her to create customized photograms. “Most participants chose a bottle they enjoyed and wanted to share with me, or they chose a bottle with an interesting design element in the label. This has allowed me to enjoy many excellent and unique wines I would not have otherwise explored.”
Natasha has been creating photograms since a high school class introduced her to its unique process, and has been experimenting with it ever since. She describes her work in the darkroom as “painting with light;” a detailed, succinct explanation of it can be found on her website. She loves how her work has allowed her to be involved with the combined creativity of herself and her clients. “The most interesting aspect of the series was the input given by each participant.” That, and perhaps the chance to taste so many new wines!