Sunday, August 08, 2010

Graffiti Artist, Decision Portrait Series

(Above: Graffiti Artist, Decision Portrait Series. No stitched words. Reproduction "tag". Hand stitched and beaded. Spray paint and found objects. 25" x 19" unframed"; 31" x 25" framed. Click on image to enlarge.)

I came into contact with Julaine Lofquist-Birch's blog from the moment I started posting. We've corresponded about embroidery, admired one another's art, and left positive blog comments of support. One day, however, I received a message from Juliane suggesting her son Jason for my Decision Portrait Series.

She wrote, " (My son) has developed into quite the stencil artist, and last year, he decided to share a "doodle" and some of his tags with the city. Oops, got into a little trouble and did some community service and paid a fine."

(Graffiti Artist, Decision Portrait Series. Detail. Click on image to enlarge.)

For this Decision Portrait, I had suggested using stitched words with the piece....something like "tagging, caught, fined".

Later, however, I decided to just use a reproduction of one of Jason's tags. Not all graffiti artist illegally deface public and private property. Jason doesn't do this anymore either; yet, he's still working in this new, exciting art genre. It is an artistic decision to use spray paint, incorporate text and symbols, and reflect an urban consciousness. It is a decision where and on what to create these artworks too!

(Graffiti Artist, Decision Portrait Series. Detail. Click on image to enlarge.)

Personally, I find graffiti totally mesmerizing. There's a special place in Columbia that I've photographed....just full of graffiti. (I wrote about it, with images, HERE!) I'm totally against it on most buildings but think "there a time and place for everything", including graffiti. I love the bright colors, the spontaneous combustion of energy, the gestural marks, and the way graffiti takes into account the found elements of the walls on which it is placed.

(Graffiti Artist, In Process image. Portrait with selection of rayon threads. Click on image to enlarge.)

So, to stitch this decision, I wanted to add a few found objects that suggested an industrial area, a little "grunge" and urban "dirt", but especially the spectrum of color available in spray paint. Years ago I was given dozens of rayon threads....bright, shiny, liquid looking. I decided to use these. I stitched and stitched. The result looked a childhood whimsy of color or a gay pride rainbow. (Neither of these things are "bad".... just totally inappropriate for my vision!)

I stood back for a minute and then knew exactly what to do. ADD BLACK SPRAY PAINT. I took a deep breathe and sprayed directly onto my artwork, right on the stitches, over the nuts and bolts. IT WAS FUN! The results were great! I added the reproduction of on of Jason's tags....and the portrait was finished.

For a moment, I felt a little of the exuberance and youthful thrill of having a spray paint can in my hands. It was awesome....and scary....spraying on my own work.

(Image above: Jason spraying....We wear the same sort of ventilation mask!)

Yes, I wore my ventilation mask. Jason wears one too. He's still creating works of art....stencil and spray....just legally now! He's an artist making his mark!

(Above: Image by Jason. Click to enlarge.)

I hope those seeing the portrait will think about graffiti and see a "real face" behind the "tags". I hope those who are illegally "tagging" think about getting caught. I hope those who hate graffiti come to realize that it can be done legally. There's a lot to consider about this spray or not to deface public property or wear proper equipment or risk one's health....plenty of decisions!


Elizabeth said...

Fabulous Piece Susan- Right up there as one of my favorites in this series!!! I love what you did with the color and then the spray paint- purebriliance!!! Tlak about putting yourself int he mindframe of your subject! I think that for many of us a can of spray paint totally intimidates!! It seems so out of control but like any tool with practice one can see that artists who use it can do incredible works of amazing art!!. Bravo!!!!
I am sure that Jason and his mum must be thrilled with this piece!!!

Julaine Lofquist-Birch said...

Absolutely thrilled!!! mum

kimberly a. bendillo said...

I REALLY like this one! Love the detail of the 'urban grit' with color--and of course, the spray paint!! Brilliant!