Does anyone remember whittling? This seems to me a lost folk art, something folkies did while sitting in rocking chairs on porches in Appalachia, i.e.: woodcarving.

Artist Tomoaki Suzuki has taken this craft out of the country and dropped it right in the city. He’s created a series of 50 centimeter statuettes, each based on specific urban youth. He photographs the subject, than scales him or her down to one-third their size, and then carves them out of a single block of wood. It’s when he colors the figures with acrylic paint they really come to life.

Though he traditionally uses the techniques and tools of ancient Japanese woodcarving to accomplish these, there are five cast in bronze that are on view at the Art Institute of Chicago, until October 20.

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[via Designboom]