Culture

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

Instagram / Mata Ruda

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

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!

Meet Frederico Vigil, The Creator Of The Largest Concave Fresco in North America – Mundos De Mestizaje

Culture

Meet Frederico Vigil, The Creator Of The Largest Concave Fresco in North America – Mundos De Mestizaje

Courtesy of Ximena N. Larkin

When visiting the National Hispanic Cultural Center campus in Albuquerque, New Mexico, it’s easy to write-off the upside-down, bucket shape form rising from the ground. It stands alone with no distinguishing marks. There are no large crowds to hint at the remarkable secret hidden inside. Visitors will know they are in the right place when the gray asphalt and concrete beneath their feet morph into red—matching the building’s exterior.

Two, towering wood doors mark the entry into the nondescript building.

Credit: Courtesy of Ximena N. Larkin

When the doors swing open, it’s impossible to avoid looking up because the vibrant colors of the ceiling act as a magnet, drawing eyes upwards. Step into the 45-foot dome-shaped structure to get a better look, and there, in the small Southwest town of less than 1 million, the largest fresco painting in North America wraps around the ceiling.

El Torreón is the name of the structure which houses Mundos de Mestizaje.

Credit: Courtesy of Ximena N. Larkin

The larger-than-the-Sistine-Chapel fresco made by Frederico Vigil. It took the Santa Fe native almost three years to have it approved and 10 years to complete it. The aerial artwork depicts thousands of years of Hispanic and pre-Hispanic history. Depending on your cultural background, some iconography is easy to spot and place in history. If you’re Mexican, La Virgen de Guadalupe, a portrait of the beloved civil rights leader Benito Juárez and the eagle, serpent, and nopal from Mexico’s coat of arms will stand out. But walk around the room, or sit in one of the lounging chairs that allow visitors to tip back and view the work at 180 degrees, and soon you’ll realize there are hidden figures among the more popular markers of Mexican and Indigenous identity.

“I’m a mixed man with many different bloodlines,” Vigil says on a phone call. “I’m mestizo. I wanted to show the history of what that means.”

For the project, Vigil consulted with seven scholars on Mesoamerican and Spanish historical culture in order to create an accurate depiction of the past.

Credit: Courtesy of Ximena N. Larkin

He says that just by looking at the Iberian Peninsula, there’s a mix of Romans, Celts, Muslims, and Phoenicians which is all tied into Spanish identity. Then, with the Americas, there’s Maya, Aztec and Toltec. The history of these lines iS not linear. They overlap, intertwine and blend together in a dizzying ride that Vigil worked to bring to life in Mundos de Mestizaje. 

The purpose is to show the viewer how interconnected and far-reaching culture is. Islamic philosopher Ibn Rushd is depicted sitting next to Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, a Medieval Torah scholar, and physician. Chacmool, the pre-Columbian sculpture found throughout Mesoamerica shares space with George Washington and an African slave. 

“There are no purebloods, we are all mixed—or perhaps the only people who can say they are of pure blood are the Amazons or indigenous tribes that have lived in isolation,” Vigil says. “When people begin to study the past, they realize we, as a society, are not genetically one thing.”

Vigil learned the art of fresco painting from Lucienne Bloch and Stephen Pope Dimitroff. The couple might not be household names outside of the art community, but their bosses were. Bloch and Dimitroff were assistants to the world-renowned Mexican artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. 

Vigil connected with the couple thanks to the Santa Fe Council for The Arts.

Credit: Courtesy of Ximena N. Larkin

The organization reached out to Vigil to gauge his interest in a scholarship learning from the pair. Now in their 70s, the two aging artists were making strides to ensure their knowledge was passed down to a new generation of creators. Art lessons were accompanied by tales of the past that included Kahlo, Rivera, and friends such as Leon Trotsky. There, he learned the complicated and time-consuming process of fresco painting.

A surface is rough plastered with a mix of lime, sand, and cement. On average, a layer takes 10-12 hours to dry. A painter can go to work an hour into the drying process and usually has between seven to nine hours of time to complete their design. The art then needs 7-10 days between coats. If the painter messes up, they have to scrape off the layers and begin again.

“I’m a procrastinator but when the wall is wet, you have to paint,” says Vigil. “Each painting is a new experience. It doesn’t get old.”

Vigil is currently working on a new 2,500-plus square foot monumental fresco at the Albuquerque Convention Center.

Credit: Courtesy of Ximena N. Larkin

His new work tells the tale of New Mexico’s history as the oldest state in the U.S. to produce wine. He says the piece could take four to six years to complete. He’s currently in his second year.

The hours for the Torreón (where the fresco is housed) are Saturdays and Sundays from 12-5 p.m., plus it is open by appointment, which can be scheduled with Juanita Ramírez at Juanita.ramirez@state.nm.us or 505-383-4774. The NHCC presents concerts in the Torreón in partnership with the Pimentel & Sons Guitar Makers. The Torreón is available for rentals under certain circumstances and with some restrictions. 

READ: 20 Bizarre Nail Art Ideas That I Just Will Never Understand

The Statue Of Liberty Gets Arrested By ICE In A New Las Vegas Mural That Speaks To Our Inhumane Immigration Policies

Things That Matter

The Statue Of Liberty Gets Arrested By ICE In A New Las Vegas Mural That Speaks To Our Inhumane Immigration Policies

A mural showing the Statue of Liberty being handcuffed by immigration enforcement officers has been unveiled in Las Vegas, amid rancour and anger over Donald Trump’sharsh immigration policies.

The mural, titled “Chained Migration,” was unveiled late last month in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Mural by Izaac Zevalking / Photo by Jesse Hudson

Since then, it has caused a lot of dialogue between those who support it and those who don’t. 

The mural is a 20×50 art installation that depicts the Statue of Liberty handcuffed and bet over the hood of an ICE patrol car. It was created by Izaac Zevalking, also known as Recycled Propaganda, a political artist that aims to create art influenced by history and current events. Zevalking himself is an immigrant from the UK. Zevalking is using the Statue of Liberty, who is considered a beacon of hope for immigrants, to demonstrate how the harmful rhetoric used against them is harming the American Dream.

In an interview with KTNV Las Vegas, Zevalking explains that the goal of the mural is to create a conversation about immigration in the United States. “I want people just to think about the issue. Wherever that thought leaves you. Wherever that conversation with someone else leaves you. I think it needs to be discussed more in human terms.”

Although some came to the internet to praise Zevalking for his mural, others were quick to disagree with his artwork. 

This Twitter user used the infamous MS13 gang as her reasoning for this mural being shameful. Her comment imitates the language that Trump uses in his statements referring to those who migrate into the United States. She plays into the stereotype that all people who are immigrating to the U.S are dangerous gang members. 

Some on Twitter were quick to claim they’d happily paint it over.

In the replies, a Twitter user suggested they paint over the mural in protest. 

However, Recycled Propaganda clapped back, suggesting that if it gets painted over they keep on bringing it back.

The art piece could not have been more timely given the recent comments made by Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.

After being asked in an interview with NPR if the words of Emma Lazarus are part of the American ethos, Cuccinelli replied, adding a line to the poem, “They certainly are – give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge.” 

The original reads as, “Give me your tired, your poor, / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…”

Recently, the Trump administration decided to make it more difficult for immigrants to obtain a Green Card if they receive government aid, such as food stamps or Medicaid. Cuccinelli is a big defender of this policy, so it is not surprising that these comments about Lazarus’ sonnet were made. 

When immigrants are being discussed in politics, it is usually done so in ways that strips them of their humanity.

When folks migrate to the United States, it is often done so out of desperation and necessity. Immigrants come with nothing but a backpack filled with the essentials. They come to work low-paying jobs and because of their status, it is difficult for them to get the assistance they need for issues like healthcare and food assistance. To ask immigrants to come to the United States and to be self-sufficient only treat them with very little dignity is unfair.

When describing this policy, Cuccinelli uses words like a burden when describing immigrants who need public assistance. After his initial remarks about the poem, Cuccinelli said on CNN that the poem was originally referring to Europeans who migrated to the United States. 

The artist, who is an immigrant from the UK points out that America is a very different place for white immigrants.

KTNV Channel 13 Las Vegas / YouTube

“I personally wasn’t born in America. I was born in the UK and I don’t ever feel attacked as an immigrant and I think that’s cause my skin is white,” Zevalking says. 

There is a stark difference between the ways European immigrants and Latin American immigrants are treated in the United States and Zevalking is tapping into that notion with his mural, “Chained Migration.” He is acknowledging his privilege as a European immigrant and using it to shed light on how criminalizing it is for non-white immigrants living in the United States.

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