In honor of Mental Health Month this May, Chicago artist Joseph Perez, who works as Sentrock, created an illustrated series celebrating the people and scenes around his studio in the city’s Pilsen neighborhood. “I started doing it just for myself, to take an hour or two and share my thoughts or reflections for that day or the day prior,” he tells Colossal.
Lively, expressive, and deeply empathetic, the resulting illustrations draw on Sentrock’s background as a graffiti artist and his connection to those around him. They tell a story about the neighborhood that’s historically been rich with Latinx culture and portray the sights and experiences shared by the community through a distinctly personal lens. The artist explains:
I started allowing myself to reflect on the past, present, the current situations I found myself in. I allowed myself to reflect on my everyday life, whether boring, exciting, or just my imagination of the moment. I started to capture the people outside my studio, whether friends or strangers. My purpose for this was to initiate a connection with the people around me, the community.
Sentrock began with reference photos of friends, family, and community members before reinterpreting them in bright, vivid renditions of his signature bird character. Usually depicted as a beaked mask, the recurring image is Sentrock’s analogy “to humanity: a person who is able to find or escape to their freedom by placing them in a different reality.” In the new works, the character travels from person to person, sometimes worn by kids skateboarding down 18th Street and others by the artist himself, like in the moving portrait of him and his mother.
Head to Instagram to see the full series and original images, and if you’re in Chicago, keep an eye out for the designs, which Sentrock plans to wheat paste around the city.
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150,000 Hearts Representing Lives Lost to Coronavirus in the UK Line the COVID Memorial Wall in London
Nearly 500 meters of small, red hearts will soon cover an expanse of concrete facing the River Thames in London. Now dubbed the National COVID Memorial Wall, the poignant display publicly commemorates the 150,000 lives lost to the coronavirus pandemic in the United Kingdom so far. Each heart represents one victim, with short messages of grief, love, and remembrance scribed by loved ones in their centers. It takes about ten minutes to walk by the entirety of the project, which serves as a staggering reminder of the virus’s devastation.
Coordinated by COVID-19 Bereaved Families For Justice, the two-meter-high wall is situated between the Westminster and Lambeth bridges, opposite the Houses of Parliament. According to The Guardian, Matt Fowler helms the ongoing project, which he began a few weeks ago by painting 15,000 hearts on the facade. His father died from the virus last April. “When you see all the hearts and think what each one represents, it’s absolutely frightening,” Fowler says.
Organizers still are raising money for supplies to complete all 150,000 hearts—although official government statistics currently reflect 149,000 deaths, which is the largest loss in Europe—that volunteers will continue to paint to account for all victims. Talks are also in the works about preserving the memorial to ensure that it’s a permanent fixture in London.
This past weekend, photographer Henri Calderon captured images for Colossal that document the memorial’s progress, which you can see below.
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A 9-Year-Old Dancer Grooves to an Intensely Choreographed Routine and Clocks 10,000 Steps in Just Three Minutes
It’d be difficult for most of us to move as gracefully as nine-year-old Lilyana Ilunga, but a new campaign by the Swedish nonprofit Generation Pep just wants to get young people on their feet. Set to a revamped version of a 2007 track by French EDM musicians Justice, “DANCE 10000” showcases the young prodigy, who flaunts her moves from the second she wakes up and slips on one of the many pairs of sneakers strewn about her room. Ilunga keeps grooving onto the subway platform, through the halls at school—she even has a quick competition with the janitor—and all the way back to her bedroom, shoes smoking.
Although Ilunga clocking 10,000 steps in mere minutes is slightly exaggerated, Generation Pep released tutorials to guide kids through the intensely choreographed routine. Directed by Filip Nilsson, the campaign was created in response to the World Health Organization’s data that more than 340 million children and young adults are overweight or obese.
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Through an eclectic array of illustrations and photographs, ten Canada-based artists are collaborating in an effort to boost awareness of mental health struggles. Life on the Line is a new public art campaign spearheaded by Twentytwenty Arts that recently installed 200 posters across the Toronto TTC Subway. From portraits to abstract renderings, the vivid works will be on display through January 16, 2021.
Each piece is informed by the artists’ own experiences with mental health issues, including depression, agoraphobia, and anxiety, among others, that the storytelling platform Unsinkable will share throughout the coming weeks. “We hope that this campaign will bring people joy and comfort in an otherwise stressful and anxious time (especially if they have to be on public transit!),” Megan Kee, the director and founder of Twentytwenty Arts, tells Colossal.
If you’re not hopping on the subway in Toronto any time soon, 50 limited-edition prints—which are signed and numbered—of each of the works are available in Twentytwenty Arts’ shop. Seventy-five percent of all sales will be donated to the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Family Outreach and Response Program. You also can follow Twentytwenty Arts’ outreach efforts on Instagram.
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Felicia Chiao (previously) often channels anxiety and other complex emotions into layered illustrations depicting anonymous characters in a variety of states. The fictional works are connected to narratives of the mundane: a supine character floats in a bathtub, another grasps a coffee mug while peering out the window, and others sit idly. Despite their whimsy, many of the scenes evoke a sense of loneliness and feature a frowning face or dark, foreboding character looming nearby.
Chiao’s recent pieces often confine subjects to their plant-filled homes, a timely adjustment to reflect the current moment. “The drawings help me explore emotions that I don’t know how to describe with words,” the illustrator tells Colossal. She frequently shares her gel pen and Copic marker works on Instagram, where she says she’s grown a supportive, empathetic audience that resonates with her emotive projects.
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A recent launch by Threadless is an impressive, multifaceted initiative to combat COVID-19 that’s a win for consumers trying to stay safe, health-care workers on the front lines, and artists and creatives who’ve lost income. The Chicago-based eCommerce company announced this week that it would release artist-designed face masks, with a portion of proceeds going to MedShare, a nonprofit that delivers medical supplies to communities in need. Featuring work from Rob Sheridan, Alex Norris, and Mukta Lata Barua, the cloth face makes comply with CDC guidelines but are not medical grade.
Jake Nickell, the founder and CEO of Threadless, told Colossal that in just six days, the company raised $100,000 and has increased its target to $250,000. “When the CDC released guidelines for wearing cloth masks, we knew our artist community would be clamoring to design them and that we could raise a lot of funding for frontline workers through mask sales,” he said. “Masks are looking to be a part of our culture for the foreseeable future so (we) may as well express ourselves a bit through art and design when wearing them.” The move coincides with Threadless’s decision to give artists 60% of apparel sales from their shops, although the company said many are donating their face mask profits.
Artists and small businesses are encouraged to participate in the initiative by uploading their designs and logos. Purchase your own face covering from Threadless, and follow the company’s progress on Instagram. If you don’t need a mask but still want to help, you can donate on MedShare’s site.
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