with street art
Using geometric motifs and vibrant hues that contrast their brick and concrete backdrops, multi-disciplinary artist Georgie Nakima paints oversized portraits that use color to convey “divinity, resilience, strength, and beauty.” The Charlotte-based artist, who works as Garden of Journey, gravitates toward bright reds and blues to form stripes, facial features, and various plants and animals in a manner that connects the central subjects to their environments. “The color is totally freestyle, and I really like to start with a base color or gradient,” she tells Colossal. “Especially in urban societies, it’s not always inspiring when you’re surrounded by gray and brown buildings.”
A studio artist primarily, Nakima creates smaller works on paper in addition to her more monumental projects, all of which are tied to ideas of Afrofuturism and countering media narratives with positive messages. Her practice has evolved in recent years from strict hyperrealism to a more abstract style that uses patches of color and patterns. “It’s still proportionately realistic, but there’s more depth,” she says, sharing that she focuses equally on her subjects and their surroundings. “My murals are really playing to the ecosystem. I am a portrait artist. However, I don’t seek for my work to be focused on humans existence. (I want to) put some of the focus off of the human ego and think holistically about who we are on this planet.”
Nakima is currently working on a piece at Mechanics and Farmers Bank, Charlotte’s first Black-owned financial institution, and you can see more of her outdoor projects, portraits on paper, and basketball court transformations on Instagram.
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Brazilian artists Douglas de Castro and Renato Reno (previously) are the duo behind Bicicleta Sem Freio, who paint large-scale murals that surround their subjects with a chaotic mix of cartoon characters, squiggly splashes, and brightly colored plants and animals. Their streetside pieces, which can be found in cities like New Dehli, Jerusalem, and Fortaleza, Brazil, balance local culture and references to popular imagery and tropical landscapes. “Our work is influenced by the ‘80s and ‘90s global and Brazilian pop culture,” they tell Colossal. “We both enjoyed watching cartoons and television shows when we were younger, and we are also deeply inspired by nature. ”
Rendered in vibrant blocks of color, Bicicleta Sem Freio’s murals depict a range of subject matter from the native plants of New Dehli to a project honoring people with disabilities in La Solana, Spain. Prior to working on a piece, the pair immerse themselves in the contemporary and historical aspects of the community to draw in mainstream and unconventional references. “We also engage with the locals and ask them about the type of music they listen to and what are the typical animals from the region. This information is crucial for us and ultimately informs our final design… It’s a weird and fun mix,” they share.
De Castro and Reno are currently in São Paulo working on a piece for NaLata Festival before heading to the U.S. next month. You can find limited-edition prints on JustKids, and follow the artists’ upcoming projects on Instagram.
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Thanks to Gerardo Gomez-Martinez (aka Hacer), the public plazas on Broadway in New York City’s Garment District are now a zoo of origami-style animals. The Mexican-American artist installed a series of powder-coated steel sculptures that loom over dining areas and walkways as part of Transformations. Commissioned by The Garment District Alliance, the project consists of seven creatures that vary in size, including a yellow dog, a magenta elephant, a green bear cub, and two turquoise rabbits and coyotes, one of which extends 14 feet from nose to tail.
If you’re in Manhattan, stop by the plazas between 36th and 39th streets before November 23 to see the bold animals in person. (thnx, Laura!)
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A spate of public art is flooding the streets of Basildon in Essex, England as part of a new initiative that falls at the intersection of social and environmental justice. Throughout the summer, curators Doug Gillen and Charlotte Pyatt, who are operating together as Re:FRAMED, tasked eight artists with creating large-scale murals and smaller painted works as part of Our Towns: Climate. The resulting pieces reconsider some of today’s most pressing issues through the lens of local art and include a glitched technicolor horse by Aches, INSA’s floral windows, and Michele Curtis’s bright message of support.
Established by the government to house relocated Londoners following World War II, Basildon is marked by its Brutalist architecture and a lengthy history of braving devastation. “This sentiment forms the heart of the Our Towns programme, engaging culture to consider new solutions to old problems in addressing our relationship with public space and each other,” a statement says.
Our Towns will kick off in-person programming on September 11 with workshops, tours, and live artmaking, and you can follow its progress on Re:FRAMED’s Instagram.
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Launched in Detroit This Summer, A Black-Led Mural Festival Wants to Revitalize Neighborhoods with Public Art
Murals have long been associated with placemaking because of their unparalleled ability to transform underutilized corridors and city stretches into spaces primed for cultural gatherings, tourism, and subsequently, economic growth. This revitalizing potential is what drives a biannual festival that launched in Detroit earlier this summer as it dramatically altered the urban landscape of the city’s central North End neighborhood.
Back in July, BLKOUT Walls saw the work of 19 muralists produced across the area, which was once regarded as an entertainment hub that produced famed Motown talents like including Smokey Robinson, Diana Ross, the Four Tops, and Aretha Franklin. Participating were visiting artists like Sentrock (previously) and Detroit natives like Tylonn J. Sawyer, Bakpak Durden, and Sydney James, who co-founded the festival with Chicago’s Max Sansing (previously) and Thomas Evans, aka Detour 303.
The resulting works span a range of themes and styles from Sansing’s sprawling technicolor creations to Tony Whgln’s whimsical botanicals to James’s contemporary twist on “Girl with the Pearl Earring,” which turns the iconic Vermeer into a subversive portrait of artist Halima Cassells. Swapping the white gem for a large “D” and cloaking her garment in patches, James’s revision is an homage to Detroit and its people.
Whereas other festivals don’t always prioritize racial diversity or pay their artists, organizers wanted to bake those tenets into BLKOUT Walls’s mission. The Black-led event prioritizes artists of color with the idea of “mirroring the demographics of the city of Detroit and thereby creating a cohort of artists representing equity and inclusion,” a statement says. Beyond representation, though, organizers also recognize the necessity of monetary support as key to lasting change, which James explains:
As an artist, I understand the importance of being paid for my experience and ability, especially as artists are often treated like we are supposed to work for free. What we do as public artists brings economic value to the area as economic development tends to follow, so it is imperative that we be compensated for not only the work we do but also the impact we have on the community and economy.
In addition to rejuvenating the area, BLKOUT Walls was designed for public engagement, with the weeklong festival schedule packed with live painting sessions, talks, walking tours, and a block party to celebrate its close. On the final day alone, it attracted more than 8,000 visitors, a testament to its power to draw patrons to nearby establishments and have a reverberating impact on the local economy.
Now having completed the inaugural event, co-organizer Che Anderson tells Colossal that the team envisions BLKOUT Walls traveling to cities like Chicago, Oakland, Memphis, Boston, Atlanta, and Charleston. “Our intent is to have a biannual festival in Detroit like a family reunion. In between those events, we’d like to host a festival somewhere else in the world to engage other Black communities,” he says.
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Entangled Figures Grasp a Small Footbridge Above a Philadelphia Street in Miguel Horn's New Installation
Clinging to a concrete footbridge in Philadelphia are two groups of figures in tangled clusters. The striking installation is attached to a 20-foot walkway arched over 1200 Cuthbert Street in City Center and is the latest work of artist Miguel Horn, who is known for his fragmented sculptures and large-scale installations comprised of CNC-cut plates. Each of the forms in “ContraFuerte” features topographic layers constructed with thousands of stacked aluminum pieces—Horn shares much of his process from initial sketches to clay prototypes on Instagram—which fuse together to create figures that appear in the midst of struggle. Similar to the artist’s previous works that directly respond to their location, the oversized piece is designed to “grapple with the task to sustain, or raise up a bridge that spans the width of the street,” Horn says. (via Streets Dept)
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Editor's Picks: Illustration
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.