Spring is a season of transformation. After the slumber of winter, nature comes back to life. And after a period of hibernation, animals, plants, and humans leave their safe, warm spaces to rediscover their surroundings. This spring, we invite you to walk through a portal and enter a new realm.

The latest exhibition from Mint Gold Dust explores the different dimensions we create and inhabit. The artists in “Portal Realms” play with dreams, fantasies, and virtual reality. They tell stories about people and places in other worlds, using digital mediums to bring these worlds to life. As they maneuver through changes in their own lives, they explore themes of metamorphosis and the sensations of a new adventure.

“Portal Tree” by Hazel Griffiths

Hazel Griffiths Creates Entire Worlds

Hazel Griffiths has always been fascinated with the idea that there were other worlds all around us, just out of reach. “I was compelled by the notion that one could walk right into one of them through a portal or hidden tear in the fabric of reality,” she told 79 Au. In this way, ordinary objects took on a sense of wonder. She could turn anything into an agent of transformation, a trigger that made the ordinary extraordinary. Naturally, Griffiths’ interests veered into fantasy, science fiction, and the intersection of art and technology.

“When I go about creating a world or an immersive space, I think of it being part of a larger narrative,” she said. “The world itself tells a story in which the viewer is fully immersed.” Beginning with the original concept, Griffiths does her best to remain loyal to it. 


She generates artworks of many types, from motion graphics to augmented reality to virtual worlds. One concept can lead to many different outcomes. She is careful to listen to what each artwork needs in order to express itself. “One of the beautiful things about creating for VR is that you can generate multiple forms of media from a single piece,” she said. 

“For example, I have the 3D file itself, which I can upload and turn into a fully immersive experience or export for augmented reality. I can then also generate video and images from the same piece, which become separate artworks in their own right.” Sometimes, certain features like sounds or specific effects don’t conform to the rules of one world.

“I usually have a vision in mind for what I’m going to create,” she said. “Then I try to stay as true to the vision as possible. I feel it’s my duty as an artist to be as loyal to the idea, as well as the process, as I can.”

“Bounce” by 4everKurious

New Chapters for 4everKurious

Right before the pandemic, 4everKurious decided to leave her successful career as a restaurateur. She spent 40 years creating beautiful plates and enticing menus. But it was finally time to move on and to pursue a new life as an artist. When lockdown began, she purchased art supplies of all kinds and went to work. But something just didn’t clicking.

“I can’t draw, I can’t paint,” she realized. “I don’t feel free, I don’t feel creative.” After the guilt of wasting a ton of materials subsided, she donated what was left to the community center art program. It was when she discovered AI art tools that her process began to take shape. 

“When AI came along, we started having these conversations around art and AI,” she told 79 Au. “I really saw this as a way that I could be creative and think deeply about what I want. And I can use this collaboration to help me get there.”

So from the high-intensity heat of a professional kitchen, she leapt into the hotbed of AI art. And she wasn’t alone. “When the pandemic hit, I, like so many other people, ended up on Clubhouse for like 9 or 10 hours a day.” 4everKurious listened and learned at home, finding both artistic expression and community through tech. In addition to Clubhouse, 4everKurious also found herself in Midjourney’s discord, sitting in on their weekly office hours.

4everKurious’ restaurant with her artworks featured

“I didn’t totally understand AI, like how it was really doing things,” she said. “But I thought it was so cool that you could be so creative.” She began with mobile apps, many of which specialized in collage. Then as the tech continued to evolve, she moved on to other tools that her community was excited about. WOMBO led to Photoda, and an updated version of Midjourneyled to rethinking the works of the past.

“the book of wings” was the first generation of 4everKurious’ artistic journey. In it, we see moons turning into feathered creatures, butterflies into shells, birds, and wings. After many changes and experiments in style, she came back to these early works with new curiosity. “I found myself using those in the second generation. So I’m combining things with other work that I’m doing, and then I’d add photography,” she said.

Something else 4everKurious has been playing with is reusing prompts. Each tool provides a different interpretation of that prompt. Furthermore, you can even create a dialogue between prompts run through different versions of the same tool. “This is like tech and nature and everything that’s happening,” she said. “And I think it kind of also aligns with the changes in our planet. There’s also changes in our tech. And they’re both going really really fast.”

Left: “Wiggly World” an AR artwork by Hazel Griffiths, Right: “the book of wings :: deconstructed wings and bones”

Art and the Metaverse

Both Hazel Griffiths and 4everKurious have spent time sending their pieces far out into the universe. Griffiths’ work creates and adorns virtual worlds. It forces us to rethink what mediums are at our disposal and what we can do with them. “I love the experience of being transported to other worlds,” she said. “They become as real to me as any vivid dream.” And indeed, her art, which at times tap into the uncanny, might bring us back to our own dreams.

For her part, 4everKurious designs art spaces in the metaverse. “Voxels would be where I spend the most amount of time,” she said. “Knowing I could do this for free. I would do it and think, wow this is really meditative, really relaxing.” She has designed her own spaces, been invited to work on others’, and has gifted some of them to friends.

If art is a portal to the artist’s soul, then these artists are themselves portals to another realm. In that realm we see both a reflection of the present and a peek into a possible future.

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