Art With a Point

A continuously updating collection of stand-alone illustrations from the Post Magazine

By The Washington Post Magazine

Most art that appears in magazines is commissioned to illustrate a specific story. But when we relaunched The Washington Post Magazine in October 2018, we created a space in each week’s print issue (located on the table of contents page) where the art itself could take center stage — and communicate an idea of its own. Because we’re a Washington magazine, many of these pieces focus on politics or policy; others, however, seek to make broader cultural statements. Each week going forward, we’ll update the below space with the latest contribution from our rotating group of artists. — Richard Just, editor of The Washington Post Magazine

‘The Oust’

ADRIANA BELLET

Feb. 17, 2019, issue: If you’re looking across the pond for relief from the political discord, try again. The United Kingdom is roiled by Brexit, its Parliament remains at loggerheads about how to proceed, and confidence in Prime Minister Theresa May is hanging on by a thread. For artist Adriana Bellet, the spectacle is personal: “As a Spanish woman married to a British man and living in Sweden, Brexit is not only troubling but downright tragic,” she says. “For me the worst is the disappearance of a Britain that was warm and welcoming, that took me in and taught me how to be an adult.”

‘The Doctor and the Rabbit’

LYDIA ORTIZ

Feb. 10, 2019, issue: Need something to keep your mind off the political upheaval? Artist Lydia Ortiz has an idea: space rovers. Not only do the Americans have InSight probing the surface of Mars like a planetary doctor, but now China has a rover, Yutu-2 (or Jade Rabbit-2), on the far side of the moon, a first in space exploration. “I like thinking and reading up on space exploration, most times to escape other things in the news,” Ortiz says. “It also often gives me perspective on how small I am.”

‘February’

CHLOE SCHEFFE

Feb. 3, 2019, issue: Spring is still weeks away, but artist Chloe Scheffe likes how it remains a state of mind for some. “Recently I saw a man carrying flowers in this very way,” she recalls. “The image stayed with me, I think, because it spoke so clearly of his other life — the life we all have, outside of work or school.” She adds, “One of my favorite things about East Coast winters is that bodegas still sell fresh flowers outside. I can walk my neighborhood in the dead of winter, during a snowfall, and see flowers in bloom.”

‘Closed’

FRANZISKA BARCZYK

Jan. 27, 2019, issue: America is in the throes of its most contentious debate about immigration in recent memory. Reports of child separations, the use of tear gas as a repellant and the deaths of two children in December at the U.S.-Mexico border break the heart of illustrator Franziska Barczyk. “The American flag stands for freedom and justice,” she argues. “However, the way migrants and refugees are handled, the opposite is revealed. [It’s] the mistreatment of vulnerable people.”

‘Not for Everyone’

ERIC PETERSEN

Jan. 20, 2019, issue: In this highly polarized era, what of contemporary art? Like politics, contemporary art can certainly divide people. But maybe that isn’t such a terrible thing. Art, after all, can be at its very best when it provokes a strong reaction in an audience. Eric Petersen says he is motivated to make people think and feel through his illustrations. “Become visually literate by exposing yourself to art,” he advises. “Don’t be afraid to like things that are unpopular or ambiguous.”

‘Racing to 2020’

MATT HUYNH

Jan. 13, 2019, issue: Decision time is here. No, not yet for you, dear voter. But, rather, for the men and women who will announce their candidacy for the Democratic nomination for president. Those looking to unseat President Trump may end up joining a free-for-all of at least a dozen candidates. For their campaigns to get any traction before the Iowa caucuses next year, they’ll need to get ahead of the pack. Artist Matt Huynh hopes the primaries provide a more inspiring model than the 2016 election. “I’m optimistically, and I’m sure naively, hoping that the 2020 elections can cathartically reassure voters of the soundness of the democratic process.”

‘The Tripping Point’

JON KRAUSE

Jan. 6, 2019, issue: Yes, it’s winter. Yes, it’s cold. But there’s no question we live on a warming planet. The cracks are starting to show: A recent Trump administration report said that the effects of climate change, including wildfires, hurricanes and heat waves, are already battering the United States. “I don’t think it takes a science degree to see what is happening in the world,” artist Jon Krause says. “Neil deGrasse Tyson had a great quote in ‘Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey’ discussing the mass extinction of species: ‘The dinosaurs never saw that asteroid coming.’ Climate change is our generation’s impending asteroid. Hopefully we can make the necessary changes to ensure our fate isn’t the same as theirs.”

‘Roller Coaster’

JEAN JULLIEN

Dec. 30, 2018, issue: We all remember what it’s like to board a roller coaster for the first time. The sweaty palms. The pang of No Going Back once you get buckled into your seat by the attendant. The dizzying heights just as the ride crests. Maybe it isn’t all that different from confronting the arrival of a new year — especially given the rather tumultuous times in which we live. “As I grow older, I find that years go by much quicker,” artist Jean Jullien notes. “Too quick. At a scary pace, actually. And at the beginning of the year, you never know what it’s going to be like, but there’s no way of going back and no way of stopping the movement.”

‘Coming Home’

ADRIANA BELLET

Dec. 16, 2018, issue: Technology does wonders for staying in touch with loved ones when they’re far away. But nothing quite substitutes for the experience of being in their presence. If you’re traveling to visit friends and family during the holidays, remember why you’re going the extra mile. “Most of the year we are all so busy with our daily struggles that keeping contact with our loved ones via technology is not only convenient but even secretly preferred,” says artist Adriana Bellet. “The holidays are the only moment of the year when we are faced with the reality that, actually, there’s no replacement for face-to-face time.”

‘Sentinel’

LYDIA ORTIZ

Dec. 9, 2018, issue: Tomorrow, Dec. 10, is Human Rights Day, first recognized by the United Nations in 1948. For artist Lydia Ortiz, who was born in the Philippines, the concept of human rights first presented itself when, as a child, she visited the site of the Bataan Death March — the 1942 transfer of American and Filipino prisoners of war by the Japanese army. The lessons she learned about that historical episode continue to resonate with her as strongly as ever. “With all the critical conflicts happening in multiple nations today,” she says, “we should remind ourselves of our obligation to monitor and enforce human rights for all oppressed humans everywhere.”

‘December’

CHLOE SCHEFFE

Dec. 2, 2018, issue: Sunlight diminishes. Temperatures plummet. We’re forced to stay inside. The dawning of this annual ritual is only redeemed for many of us by the figurative warmth of holiday season social gatherings. Unless, of course, there is no one with whom you can share them. “In my own work I’m often thinking about loneliness and melancholy, so this assignment didn’t feel unnatural,” says Chloe Scheffe of her illustration. A fluorescent season of merriment, the ubiquitous presence of social media: They can only paper over the loneliness that’s out there. “It’s incredibly easy,” notes Scheffe, “to feel isolated in the real world.”

‘Leave the Turkey Out of This’

FRANZISKA BARCZYK

Nov. 18, 2018, issue: Huzzah, you’ve survived the midterm elections. But have you really? Because, certainly, you’ll need to gather with extended family and friends to dissect the outcomes and, even better, to forecast the presidential race of 2020 — all while fighting off the indigestion that can accompany this catered panel discussion known as Thanksgiving dinner. Illustrator Franziska Barczyk reminds us of the internecine conflict to come. German-born and now living in Toronto, Barczyk has been to a Thanksgiving or two in the States and offers this advice: “Smile, breathe, listen, don’t cut people off.” And then, of course, give thanks for civil discourse.

‘100 Years of Poppies’

MATT HUYNH

Nov. 11, 2018, issue: “In Flanders fields the poppies blow / Between the crosses, row on row.” So begins the poem “In Flanders Fields” by the Canadian Lt. Col. John McCrae, who served during World War I. McCrae, then 42, wrote the words in honor of a fellow soldier and friend lost in battle along the Western Front. The flower, consecrated by the celebrated poem, would become an enduring symbol of both sacrifice and the utter ruin of warfare, explains illustrator Matt Huynh of Brooklyn. “This Veterans Day coincides with the centenary of the end of WWI, the ‘war to end all wars,’ ” he notes. “This image reflects on that 100-year-old promise for peace with poppies.”

‘American Turf War’

ERIC PETERSEN

Nov. 4, 2018, issue: Control of the U.S. House of Representatives hangs in the balance. The makeup of the Senate is at stake. Therefore, Tuesday’s election results will be an illuminating moment for the direction of the nation. But, for New Mexico artist Eric Petersen, it’s just the latest round of stupefyingly zero-sum gamesmanship between our two major political parties. “This illustration was inspired by a very popular video game played by my 11-year-old son in which two opposing teams compete to cover the shared territory with their own color,” Petersen said. “The U.S. as a functioning entity is being erased by our partisan turf war. Is this what we want?”

‘Knock Knock’

JEAN JULLIEN

Oct. 28, 2018, issue: Are you ready for Halloween? If not, French artist Jean Jullien’s piece about reversing roles might get you in the spirit. “I’ve always liked the notion of masks and costumes and [their] symbolism,” Jullien says. “So the idea [of the art] is just to get rid of the mask and have what’s behind as the scariest thing. I also like the reversing of position and having the child show up at the monster’s house.” In case you were wondering, when asked if the piece has any connection to Washington or politics, Jullien said: “Absolutely none.”

‘Our Awareness Time’

ADRIANA BELLET

October 21, 2018, issue: October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Researching the subject, Stockholm-based artist Adriana Bellet found that, although the health campaign helps create a support system for women, there’s still work left to be done. “Some studies show that the mortality rate for African American women is remarkably higher compared to that of white women,” she says. “I wanted to shed a light on that disparity.”

‘Baked Macaroni’

JON KRAUSE

Oct. 14, 2018, issue: New York Times art critic Howard Devree once compared Jackson Pollock’s drip paintings to baked macaroni. So, naturally, when we asked Philadelphia artist Jon Krause, 42, to create a piece about food, a chef slinging pasta made total sense. “Broadly, I’d just like to suggest there are many ways to experience the culinary arts aside from a beautiful and expensive plate from a five-star restaurant,” said Krause, who made the art using spaghetti and tomato sauce after wet yarn and Silly String didn’t work.

‘Awakening’

LYDIA ORTIZ

Oct. 7, 2018, issue: This issue marks a new beginning for The Washington Post Magazine: new features, new layouts, new fonts. But new beginnings can conjure many things, and for artist Lydia Ortiz — whose work appears above — it’s insects. “I’ve always been so fascinated by rebirths,” Ortiz says. “I love the image of an entity laying dormant for a while as it re-creates itself. The metamorphosis of a butterfly is a fantastic example of a physical renewal.” Ortiz knows about change: She was born in the Philippines and moved to the United States at 19.

Credits: By The Washington Post Magazine. Designed by Christian Font and Michael Johnson.