Culture

These 6 Artists Are Taking Their Work Beyond Gallery Walls And Into The Street

Muralists across the U.S. are making art increasingly accessible and sharing their take on politics and identity with the world. Here are six artists whose work and vision are inspiring us to rethink what art means.

Ahol Sniffs Glue

Credit: Instagram / pcaroluspr

Ahol Sniffs Glue is undeniably one of the most recognizable street artists in the world. His signature eye designs are so striking, in fact, that American Eagle utilized the design without permission, resulting in a settlement with the artist. But Ahol’s art isn’t limited to eyes on walls. His animated documentary  Biscayne Worldabout his hometown of Miami, made Vimeo’s staff picks, and he pursues a number of projects both within and outside of the traditional art world. As Ahol told Mitú, “I don’t want to portray that I am living a crazy illegal life of graffiti when I’m having art shows, making digital works, cartoons, jewelry, animations, illustrations and other random stuff.”

Levi Ponce

I painted this one year ago today… #venicebeach #socal #philosophers photo by @beanhive and @rodinphotography

A photo posted by Levi Ponce (@leviponce) on

Credit: Instagram / leviponce

At just 25 years old, Levi Ponce has become one of the premier West Coast street artists. He was commissioned by The Paradise Project to create a mural of famous pantheists, including Albert Einstein and Lao Tzu. “My big thing is getting murals [people] can relate to,” Ponce told L.A.’s KCET. “I try and find these things that unite us and get them on the walls. I don’t go into a neighborhood with my ideas. It reflects the neighborhood that raised me.”

Bonus: Ponce also paints Selena murals, so our heart is basically his:

My Selena mural in #lincolnpark #la #mural #plazadelaraza ..repost from @__arleeene__ a

A photo posted by Levi Ponce (@leviponce) on

Credit: Instagram / leviponce

Kristy Sandoval

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Credit: Facebook /Kristy Sandoval, image by Tapatio

In one of her most famous pieces, “Decolonize,” Kristy Sandoval depicts a young woman freeing trapped butterflies and parrots into a field of flowers. Sandoval lives in L.A. and founded a local, all-female collective called HOODsisters, which stands for “Honoring our Origins, Ourselves and our Dreams.” HOODsisters’ murals spotlight powerful Latinas throughout history, like Toypurina, a native Californian who battled Spanish missionaries and led a revolt in 1785.

Mata Ruda

"He had got, finally, to the forrest of motives…" -Amiri Baraka (from 'A Poem For Speculative Hipsters') The wall is titled "The Speed of Dreams (No Boni)" for Ras Baraka's #modelneighborhoodinitiative for the city of Newark. A portrait of a young man having an ancestral dream where he encounters a Kokobene Luck mask from central Ghana (designed by Rita Addo Zakour) speaking to him as he is interwoven with abstracted west african textiles. Above the figure's head is a sunset of the marshland landscape that surrounds Newark, New Jersey. All this contained within what Amiri Baraka referred to as "the forrest of motives". This piece was influenced by the work and narrative of the short film "No Boni" by Newark film maker and my hermano, Dubois Ashong. For more information check out @nobonifilm and @duboisashong and keep to keep up with Mayor Ras Baraka check out @rasjbaraka The mural is located at 544 Springfield Ave. Newark, New Jersey.

A photo posted by MATA RUDA (@mataruda) on

Credit: Instagram/ mataruda

Mata Ruda is an artist, activist and archivist living in Phoenix, Arizona. Using imagery from Americas North, South and Central, his art intends to honor immigrant and overlooked communities. “I love creating a sacred space out of the everyday architecture that we are so accustomed to and surrounded by on a daily basis,” Mata told mitú. “Art, especially public art, can affect society in so many ways, but what is unique and special about public art is that it is not owned by any single individual, yet at the same time is owned by everybody.”

Mata reminds us that public paintings are no passing trend. “We’ve been painting on walls since we can remember, reflecting our realities and documenting our legacies, our attempt to share something deeper is an act of love, knowing that others will see it as a form of healing.”

Lady Pink

#WellingCourt #streetart

A photo posted by Lady Pink (@ladypinknyc) on

Credit: Instagram / ladypinknyc

Born in Ecuador and raised in NYC, many consider Lady Pink the first female street artist to break into the boys club, earning her the title, The First Lady of Graffiti. “When I first started, women were still trying to prove themselves, through the ’70s, that women could do everything guys could do,” she told the Brooklyn Museum. “The feminist movement was growing very strong and as a teenager I think it affected me without me realizing that I was a young feminist. The more guys said ‘you can’t do that’ the more I had to prove them wrong.” She started out painting NYC subway trains and now has art featured in the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Brooklyn Museum.

Rolando Adrian Avila

#wynwood #muralart #workinghard #instagraffiti #streetart

A photo posted by Artist | Designer (@adrianavilaarts) on

Credit: Instagram / avilaarts

Rolando Adrian Avila loves naked women. So much so they can be found in most of his art dominating galleries and walls all over Miami. The Cuban-born artist often uses black, white and just one other color to portray the female form, and finds his work is right at home in Miami. “I feel like people [here] really respond to figurative work. I do these girls, and in Miami the body is something that is celebrated,” Avila told Miami’s Rise News. Avila feels lucky to have had so much opportunity. “I got money to go to California from school, that was the only way,” he added. “I feel like that’s important for an artist, to be educated. Education is everything.”

READ: Meet The Artist Who Pays Latino Day Laborers To Be Subjects In His Paintings

Where is your favorite piece of street art? Tell us in the comments below and don’t forget to share on Facebook and Twitter!

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This Latina On Instagram Is Using Art And Social Media To Share Her Journey of Embracing Her Vitiligo

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This Latina On Instagram Is Using Art And Social Media To Share Her Journey of Embracing Her Vitiligo

radiantbambi / Instagram

Ash Soto is a young Latina living in Florida using social media to bring acceptance and self-love to the vitiligo community. The Instagrammer has more than 166,000 followers and uses her platform to deliver art and activism one post at a time. Vitiligo is a skin condition and this Latina is reclaiming her skin one photo at a time.

Ash Soto is giving the vitiligo community some love and representation on social media.

Soto is a 24-year-old Instagrammer who is using her platform to show off her vitiligo and give the community some love and representation. The sudden social media star is catching a lot of attention after showing off her body in a way followers hadn’t seen before.

According to an interview with Self, Soto first started her Instagram page to do makeup and only showed her face. The reason was that she was uncomfortable showing people that part of herself.

Soto uses art to highlight and celebrate her vitiligo.

You might recognize Soto because of her incredible body art that is giving her vitiligo all of the self-love and acceptance. It is all part of her mission to reclaim her skin and make other people comfortable in theirs.

“I remember back when I was really young—you know when you’re in middle school, you try to fit in with the crowd,” Soto told Self. “I wasn’t fitting in. People made fun of me to the point where I would cry myself to sleep every night.”

Soto was young when she was diagnosed with vitiligo.

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Which one is your fav? 🌎🖌

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Vitiligo is a skin condition where a person loses the pigmentation of their skin. The cells in the skin that produce the pigmentation die or stop functioning leading to the loss of skin color over time. The disease shows up as splotches on the skin without pigmentation.

“I never realized how beautiful my vitiligo was until I traced it with a black marker, it really helps to bring out the different colors of my skin. I was always trying to find a way to look at my skin in a positive light, [and] I couldn’t do that before starting this,” Soto told Daily Mail. Now what others would perceive as an imperfection, I have made into something more beautiful and made it more accepted than before.”

Soto has been living with her vitiligo since she was 12 years old.

A moment in her teens made her embarrassed of her body and her skin. When she was a teenager, a little girl on the beach asked her if she took a shower in bleach. According to Daily Mail, that was when Soto wanted to lock herself away from the world.

Years later, Soto is flipping the script and embracing her vitiligo in all of its glory. You can follow Soto and her vitiligo journey on Instagram at @radiantbambi.

“If you feel beautiful, that’s what matters,” Soto told Self. “No one can say anything if you feel happy with yourself.”

READ: At Just 6 Years Old, She Told Her Parents To Put An End To The Birthmark Removal Treatments She Was Going Through

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A Recently Shared Letter From Frida Kahlo To Diego Rivera Details Her Struggle The Day Before Having Her Leg Amputated And It Will Break Your Heart

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A Recently Shared Letter From Frida Kahlo To Diego Rivera Details Her Struggle The Day Before Having Her Leg Amputated And It Will Break Your Heart

Fotosearch / Getty

Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera have been known for having one of the art world’s most notoriously turbulent marriages. Both artists were guilty of having multiple affairs and straying away from their marriage, breaking up and getting back together only to become one again. Yet, despite their hard times, the Mexican artists had a bond that transcended the ages and one that has stirred countless discussions about their passion and love.

In a series of love letters from Kahlo to Rivera published in The Diary of Frida Kahlo: An Intimate Self-Portrait readers are given insight into both the anguish and longing that was woven into their marriage.

One letter, recently shared by the Instagram page @historycoolkids, shows a momentary rift in their marriage when Kahlo was preparing to have her leg amputated.

Written in 1953, the letter for Rivera was written while Kahlo was in the hospital.

It reads:

⁣”I’m writing this letter from a hospital room before I am admitted into the operating theatre. They want me to hurry, but I am determined to finish writing first, as I don’t want to leave anything unfinished. Especially now that I know what they are up to. They want to hurt my pride by cutting a leg off. When they told me it would be necessary to amputate, the news didn’t affect me the way everybody expected. No, I was already a maimed woman when I lost you, again, for the umpteenth time maybe, and still I survived.⁣

I am not afraid of pain and you know it. It is almost inherent to my being, although I confess that I suffered, and a great deal, when you cheated on me, every time you did it, not just with my sister but with so many other women. How did they let themselves be fooled by you?

Let’s not fool ourselves, Diego, I gave you everything that is humanly possible to offer and we both know that. But still, how the hell do you manage to seduce so many women when you’re such an ugly son of a bitch?

The reason why I’m writing is not to accuse you of anything more than we’ve already accused each other of in this and however many more bloody lives. It’s because I’m having a leg cut off (damned thing, it got what it wanted in the end). I told you I’ve counted myself as incomplete for a long time, but why the fuck does everybody else need to know about it too? Now my fragmentation will be obvious for everyone to see, for you to see… That’s why I’m telling you before you hear it on the grapevine. I’m writing to let you know I’m releasing you, I’m amputating you. Be happy and never seek me again. I don’t want to hear from you, I don’t want you to hear from me. If there is anything I’d enjoy before I die, it’d be not having to see your fucking horrible bastard face wandering around my garden.⁣

That is all, I can now go to be chopped up in peace.⁣

Good bye from somebody who is crazy and vehemently in love with you,⁣

Your Frida”

Despite the letter, Kahlo didn’t “amputate” Rivera out of her life completely.

In fact, in her last days, Kahlo lived with Rivera and even made a public appearance with him in a demonstration against the CIA invasion of Guatemala. After her death, Rivera stated that her loss was “the most tragic day of my life.” Three years after his death, Riva requested to have his ashes mixed with Kahlo’s (this despite the fact that he married again after her death). Instead, the Mexican government opted to inter his remains in Mexico City’s famous Rotunda of Illustrious Men.

The message from Kahlo is being celebrated by her fans on Instagram as the “best letter in history.”

Fans of Kahlo called her letter “badass” and the greatest they’d ever read. “She was such a talent and such a twisted soul,” one user wrote in the post’s comment sections.

That part where she wonders why Diego was able to be such a womanizer despite being an “ugly son of a bitch” does pretty much make her badass.

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