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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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The Pink Seesaws Along The U.S.-Mexico Border Won Design of the Year For 2020

Things That Matter

The Pink Seesaws Along The U.S.-Mexico Border Won Design of the Year For 2020

LUIS TORRES/AFP via Getty Images

For many years now, when you think of the U.S.-Mexico border, you think of the families torn apart by cruel and inhumane immigration policies and of kids and families being thrown into cages.

One artist tried to highlight the cruelty happening at the border, while also providing local children with a happy distraction, through an art installation at the border zone between El Paso, TX and Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua.

Now, that art installation is gaining international recognition for its aim to bring together a physically divided community.

Pink seesaws installed along the U.S.-Mexico border have won a prestigious design award.

The collection of bright pink seesaws placed along the border wall between a section of El Paso and Ciudad Juárez is being recognized for its importance. The art installation/children’s playground that allowed people to interact through the border wall has won the prestigious Design of the Year award, with its creators saying they hoped the work encourages people to build bridges between communities.

The Teeter Totter Wall, which bridged across El Paso in Texas and Ciudad Juárez in Chihuahua during a 40-minute session, was described as not only feeling “symbolically important” but also highlighting “the possibility of things” by the judging panel.

Original story published July, 25, 2019:

Lately, when you think of the U.S-Mexico border, you think of the children being kept in cages, of migrant folks being kept in unthinkable conditions in detention prisons, and you think of the possible construction of Donald Trump’s beloved wall–among other negative connotations that the border brings. Then there are times when heartwarming images and scenes from the border show that despite the weaponization of the border, we’re still connected to one another in many ways. 

Architect and artist Ronald Rael designed and installed pink seesaws at the border for children from the United States and Mexico to play together.

The art installation, “Teeter-Totter Wall,” was created by Rael, an architecture professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and Virginia San Fratello, an associate professor of design at San Jose State University.

The custom-built seesaws were placed on both sides of the steel border fence that separates the U.S. and Mexico. The artist called it “one of the most incredible experiences of his career” in a post he shared on Instagram. 

About a decade ago, both Rael and San Fratello had designed the concept for the seesaw at the border for a book titled “Borderwall as Architecture.” Now, the drawings became a reality. 

Despite the negative headlines that dominate the news cycle every day, it’s refreshing to see artists like Ronald Rael use their platform and creativity to spark positivity and strengthen our sense of community. 

“The wall became a literal fulcrum for U.S.-Mexico relations and children and adults were connected in meaningful ways on both sides with the recognition that the actions that take place on one side have a direct consequence on the other side,” Rael wrote in his Instagram caption. Rael also gave a shoutout to the team who helped make this powerful art installation a reality in Cuidad Juárez, Mexico.

CNN also points out that the New Mexico town is also where a militia detained migrants in April (the ACLU called it a kidnapping), and where a private group began building its own border wall with the use of millions donated to a GoFundMe campaign. 

Last week, the Supreme Court also gave Trump a victory in his fight for the construction of a wall along the border. Further, the Supreme Court allowed the administration to use $2.5 billion in military funds for it. 

Despite all of the negative news surrounding the border, it was a different scene there on Monday near the Sunland Park stretch. Instead, it showed a heartwarming and lighter scene compared to what we’ve recently seen.

The art installation that this artist created is also meant to serve as a reminder. A reminder that “we are connected” and “what happens on one side impacts the other.”

The pink seesaws showed people from both sides of the border coming together in a unifying act. Children and adults alike on U.S soil were recorded playing with children from the other side. These light-hearted scenes from the border make one for if only a second forget the actual reality of it all. 

RAICES, a non-profit focusing on immigration legal services in Texas, shared on Twitter that “Art is such a powerful vehicle for change”

In the past, other scenes of art installations at the border have made rounds. For example, The Guardian notes the time when an architectural practice in Mexico designed a pink interpretation of Trump’s border wall. 

Claudia Tristán, the Director of Latinx Messaging for 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke also praised the art installation for the message it spread. 

“The symbolism of the seesaw is just magical,” she wrote in a tweet. “A #Border fence will not keep us from our neighbors.”

The video of architect and artist Ronald Rael that’s also making rounds on social media shows him saying that the seesaw that there are still “good relations the people of Mexico and the United States.” Therefore, the seesaw can portray that we are “equal” and the wall, he says, cuts those relationships between us. 

Ultimately, it is important to remember that with or without the U.S.-Mexico border, much of this land belonged to and will always belong to Native Americans.

We need to remember that the homelands of tribes including the Kumeyaay, Pai, Cocopah, O’odham, Yaqui, Apache and Kickapoo peoples were all split into two by the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and the 1853 Gadsen Purchase–which is what makes up modern-day California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas

So while it is important to highlight the positive and humanizing images on the U.S.-Mexico border when we can, we should also be mindful of the indigenous communities to which this land belongs to. 

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If You Call Yourself A Frida Kahlo Fan Then You Should Be Following These Five Artists

Culture

If You Call Yourself A Frida Kahlo Fan Then You Should Be Following These Five Artists

Bettman Archives / Getty Images

So many of us have been moved the art of the late Frida Kahlo. Even in death she’s gone on to inspire entire generations with her Surrealist self-portraits, lush depictions of plant and animal life, and magical realist tableaux. Not to mention her incredible life story.

She also inspired future generations of artists, many of whom are alive today creating beautiful works of art. These are just a few of the artists who have similar techniques, subjects, and styles to Frida Kahlo that you’ll definitely love if you’re a fan of Frida Kahlo.

Maria Fragoso – Mexico City

Credit: Teach Me Sweet Things / Theirry Goldberg Gallery

Influenced by the style and narratives of Mexican surrealists and muralists, Maria Fragoso creates work that celebrates her Mexican culture, while also addressing notions of gender expression and queer identity. Her brightly colored canvases offer voyeuristic glimpses into intimate moments, with subjects engaging in acts that seem at once seductive and mischievous—often while gazing directly out at the viewer.

Recently featured in Forbes’s “30 Under 30” in the “Art and Style” category, the 25-year-old artist is quickly rising to prominence. Born and raised in Mexico City, Fragoso moved to Baltimore in 2015 to pursue her BFA at the Maryland Institute College of Art. While in school, Fragoso was the recipient of the Ellen Battell Stoeckel Fellowship at the Yale Norfolk School of Art. Since graduating, she has completed residencies at Palazzo Monti and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture.

Nadia Waheed – Austin, Texas

Credit: Message from Janus / Mindy Solomon Gallery

Born in Saudi Arabia to Pakistani parents, Austin, Texas–based artist Nadia Waheed explores notions of relocation, displacement, and vulnerability in her work. Her life-size figurative paintings are both allegorical and autobiographical—the female figures represent her own lived experiences, as well as the multifaceted identities of all women.

Rodeo Tapaya – Philippines

Credit: Nowhere Man / A3 Art Agency

Rodel Tapaya paints dreamlike, narrative works based on myths and folklore from his native Philippines. Drawing parallels between age-old fables and current events, Tapaya reimagines mythical tales by incorporating fragments of the present. “In some way, I realize that old stories are not just metaphors. I can find connections with contemporary time,” Tapaya said in a 2017 interview with the National Gallery of Australia. “It’s like the myths are poetic narrations of the present.”

While the content of Tapaya’s work is inspired by Filipino culture, his style and literary-based practice is heavily influenced by Mexican muralists and Surrealist painters such as José Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera, and, of course, Frida Kahlo. Often working at a large scale, Tapaya has been commissioned to create several site-specific murals, including one for Art Fair Philippines in February 2020.

Leonor Fini – Buenos Aires

Credit: Les Aveugles / Weinstein Gallery

Long overlooked in favor of male Surrealists, Leonor Fini, a contemporary of Kahlo, was a pioneering 20th-century force. Known for having lived boldly, Fini is recognized for her unconventional lifestyle, theatrical personality, and avant-garde fashion sense. Born in Buenos Aires in 1907, Fini was raised by her mother in Trieste, Italy. She taught herself to paint and first exhibited her work at the age of 17.

Fini had one of her first solo exhibitions at age 25 with a Parisian gallery directed by Christian Dior. Her work was then included in the groundbreaking exhibition “Fantastic Art, Dada and Surrealism” at MoMA in 1936, while at the same time she had her first New York exhibition with Julien Levy Gallery. Today, Fini’s work is represented in many major public collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Tate Modern in London, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice.

Ramon Alejandro – Miami

Credit: Eternal Life / Latino Art Core

José Ramón Díaz Alejandro, better known as Ramon Alejandro, paints idyllic still lifes of tropical fruits set in ethereal landscapes. The surrealistic compositions have a similar spirit to Kahlo’s less iconic but equally masterful still-life works

Coming from a long lineage of artists, Alejandro grew up with the artworks of his great-grandfather, grandfather, and uncle adorning the walls of his childhood home. After growing up in Havana, Alejandro was sent to live in Argentina in 1960 amidst political turmoil in Cuba, and has continued to live in exile since then.

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