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For These 6 Artists, Mold Is a Muse

Bacteria and yeast become these artists' generative materials.
Image courtesy Klaus Pichler

There’s usually one word that comes to mind when I think of mold: loathsome. We hate the sight of the hideous growth so much that most of us can’t bring ourselves to look at it more than once. Because of this, we rarely take the time to actually observe it. If we did, we’d notice that it sometimes produces designs and textures that are rather exquisite; reminding us that nature is a true design genius. Some mold produces vibrant colors and patterns.


Here are six different artists who are inspired by mold. There’s something powerful about this kind of artwork. It challenges us into questioning how something so repulsive can be seen as beautiful. How do you feel when you look at something you usually regard as vile and see it through an artist’s eyes?

Klaus Pichler

Images coutesy the artist

Klaus Pichler makes rotting food look majestic. So much so, it looks like it should belong on Miss Havisham’s dining table. The work titled One Third comments on global food waste, highlighting that roughly ⅓ of all food is wasted. Pichler wants to remind us that there's over 925 million people in the world who are threatened with starvation.

Antoine Bridier-Nahmias

Images coutesy the artist

By changing the levels of oxygen, light, and temperature, [Antoine Bridier-Nahmias](http://Antoine Bridier-Nahmias) grows beautiful arrays of micro-organisms due to random contamination. His project titled Magical Contamination archives photos of bacteria and yeast in Petri dishes to wondrous surprise.

Johanna Mårtensson

Images coutesy the artist

The world as we know it is perishable. Johanna Mårtensson builds moldy bread into cities of abandon. The project speaks to the world abandoned by humans and left to rot without humanity’s maintenance. Mårtensson describes her project as, “Another picture of what might happen when the show is over.” It’s a chilling portrayal of what might happen if humankind suddenly vanished.

Elin Thomas

Images coutesy the artist

Elin Thomas crochets and sews mold patterns into fabric and they look as though they’ve come straight from the lab. Every detail of the layers and textures are depicted, and her pieces capture the characteristics of fungus and bacteria brilliantly while making Petri dishes look cute.


Daniele Del Nero

Images coutesy the artist

Constructing his fairy-tale building with black paper, flour, and mold, Daniele Del Nero creates what looks like haunted houses or city blocks in ruin. These pieces create a chilling story; making us question the environments in which we live, and the memories that the buildings we reside in hold.

Gemma Schiebe

Images coutesy the artist

Using an array of strange mediums including sugar, cotton and wool, Gemma Schiebe makes mixed media sculptures but also video and photographs of decay in process. She says, “There is a strange juxtaposition going on between the perfectly formed fruit and the fake decay moldy looking exterior.”


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