Baltimore-based artists Jessie Unterhalter and Katey Truhn, known as Jessie and Katey, started creating murals because of the sheer accessibility of public art. The pair have always created work with a big visual impact, but as their designs grew they began to consider the possibility of working on the ground in addition to large-scale walls. Their site-specific floor works combine inspirations from both textiles and board games to create interactive walkways that encourage play and exploration. Jessie and Katey explain to Colossal that “the compositions are inspired by the viewer and how they might travel through the work. It’s really fun watching little kids interact with the floor murals—they always know what to do.”
The math behind both textile design and quilting is an aspect that the pair must consider when painting their large-scale works, and have started to inform how the pair begins each piece’s early designs. “We approach our large-scale work a bit like screen printers, even though we don’t screen print,” the pair explains. “Our process of execution is very methodical and we tend to think in planes or layers. This is probably a result of having to develop concepts and adapt them to larger spaces in a short amount of time. It’s interesting that painting murals has informed how we paint murals.”
This summer Jessie and Katey are working with the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation in Baltimore to create a site-specific mural for the Foundation’s new community space. The artists will also be painting a piece in Sacramento in collaboration with Wide Open Walls and later this fall will be working on an immersive installation incorporating recycled materials at Baltimore’s Goucher College, a rare opportunity for the pair to work in three dimensions. You can view more of Jessie and Katey’s work on their website and Instagram.
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Brussels-based artist Oli-B uses carefully juxtaposed chromatic shapes to form abstract murals. A variety of organic forms with defined borders fit together: stripes and waves cut through scallop-edged blobs and perfect circles. The artist occasionally uses ombre and negative spaces to add depth and movement, but primarily works with continuous flat fields of color. Oli-B has been painting since his teen years, when he primarily worked with spray paint. In addition to his large-scale commissioned murals, Oli-B also creates screen prints, sculptures, and paintings on canvas. You can watch Oli-B in action here and see more of his vibrant artworks on Instagram. (via Street Art News)
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Combining art and activism, the PangeaSeed Foundation is a Hawaii-based nonprofit organization that is doing its part to help save Earth’s waters with its “Sea Walls: Artists For Oceans” international mural program. Since its inception in 2014, over 350 ocean-themed murals have been painted in 15 countries by the organization’s network of over 300 artists. With activations in Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Mexico, and several other locations around the globe, the initiative engages the public and educates the world about critical environmental issues threatening our most precious resources through art, film screenings, and discussions.
PangeaSeed founder and executive director Tré Packard tells Colossal that when it comes to choosing which artists to work with and what they should paint, balance and community are key. “We always aim to create a balance between international, national and local artists,” he said. “Over the years, with the Sea Walls: Artists for Oceans program being nomadic, we’ve learned the importance of community ownership of the murals once we’ve packed up and left town. There tends to be so many incredible local creatives in the areas we host projects, so we work hand in hand with the local project director to help identify local artists who we invite to participate in the project.” Artists are given a list of topics to choose from and together with the team narrow it down to one. The murals are site-specific in that they address issues relevant to the places where they are painted. Some artists have even connected with local scientists and activists during the planning stage to better inform their designs.
“The beauty of public art lies in the fact that it is a public good where even ‘non-artsy’ folks can be touched and empowered by experiencing the process or the finished product,” Packard said about the mural program. “In addition to encouraging other artists to create for a purpose, our chief goal is to effect positive behavioral change at the individual and community level, so we’re thrilled when fans who aren’t artistically inclined are moved.” As for ways that people can get involved and help, he suggests finding ways to use less plastic, eating sustainable seafood, and voting for politicians with ocean-minded ideas.
Packard says that there are some dream projects on the horizon for Sea Walls, but those details are still under wraps for now. To learn more about the foundation and its upcoming activations, follow @pangeaseed and @Seawalls_ on social media.
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A Mural of Swirling Cursors, Dancing Skeletons, and Rainbow Hearts is Set in Motion When Viewed Through a “GIF-iti” App
For the D&AD (Design and Art Direction) festival, recently held in London, Shutterstock commissioned muralist and pattern designer INSA (previously) to create an interactive artwork. When viewed through the graffiti artist’s “GIF-iti” app, the multi-part mural, titled “File Under:Unresolved” springs to life in a looping animation. Multiple working image windows are filled with visual content from Shutterstock’s media library, ranging from cheerful Lisa Frank-esque rainbow hearts to a stock gif of a businessman smashing his laptop. Nestled among the working image windows are three file folders, constantly hovered over by an arrow cursor.
In a statement INSA wrote, “I hope that the work might make creatives consider how they feel about themselves, their work, the endless deadlines and their use of time in life.” This augmented mural is far from INSA’s first: the U.K.-based artist shares his animated artwork on Instagram and Tumblr. (via Fast Company)
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When Huang Yung-Fu learned that the village where he had lived for decades was slated for demolition, the Taiwan resident decided to showcase the continued vibrancy of his home. Huang was the last remaining resident of the community that had once housed 1,200 households, mostly Chinese Nationalist veterans like Huang, who had been defeated by Mao Zedong’s Communist regime. By the mid-2000’s, real estate developers had bought out many residents to be able to raze the area, with Huang as the last holdout. Left on his own, the elderly veteran, who also has a strong creative streak, started painting every available surface of his surroundings. Walls, rooflines, and pathways became canvases for multi-colored Chinese characters and figurative motifs.
Since beginning the open-ended project about ten years ago, Huang’s community has become known as Rainbow Village and he, the Rainbow Grandpa. In 2010 a local university student came across Huang’s vibrant paintings and helped raise awareness for the Rainbow Village. Over a million tourists visit each year and the Taiwanese government has since pledged to keep the village intact. (via My Modern Met)
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Wellington, New Zealand-based artist and designer Gina Kiel creates large-scale murals of black and grey figures with layers of concentric colors bursting from their core. The works are often set against a bright blue background which blends the colors of New Zealand’s sunny skies with its surrounding sea. Kiel’s psychedelic palette also includes an array of yellow smiley faces, which can be found layered behind realistic human faces or other segmented body parts. You can see more of her murals and design work on her website, Instagram, and Behance.
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Pejac (previously) recently spent some time inside one of the oldest continuously running prisons in Spain. The prison, El Dueso, is a hulking structure built on the ruins of Napoleon’s fortress. True to his efforts to create and place his work in unusual settings and initiate conversations about unpopular subjects, the Gold Mine project resulted in three interventions that the artist realized in collaboration with inmates. “A prison itself is a place wrapped in harsh reality,” Pejac explained. The artist continues, “At the same time, I feel that it has a great surrealist charge. It is as if you only need to scratch a little on its walls to discover the poetry hidden inside.”
Making a connection between the sterile isolation inside and the lush nature surrounding the facility, the biggest and arguably most striking piece is an immense tree, a metaphor of ultimate, unspoiled freedom. The Shape of Days serves as a monument to the most cherished virtue: perseverance. It is entirely built from countless hash marks that reference an age-old method of keeping track of time away from the real world. Making an analogy between the tree leaves as the symbol of growth and marks as the symbol of extreme restraint, the majestic image captures the passage of time while providing hope.
Placed in a sterile, newly built corridor that connects the cells and outdoor areas, Hollow Walls is a poetic illusion of sliding doors made from the blank concrete walls. Through minimal artistic intervention, the artist added a sense of depth and perspective, creating a distraction for those walking along these walls daily. Once again using one of his most recurring images, a soaring bird, Pejac created an atmosphere of reachable yet fictional freedom.
The final piece, Hidden Value, also uses an element that artist has introduced in his previous work: a peeled off corner of an existing object suggesting an alternative reality. Working with people whose everyday life is stripped of life’s basic pleasures, Pejac wanted to provide some sense of luxury to the basic and highly restricted routine of the inmates. Using real 22-carat gold leaf and a trompe l’oeil technique he’s used before, he created an illusion of the basketball board revealing a large gold plate under its familiar surface. Challenged by taking everyday items and creating an alternative reality around them, the artist explored the previously mentioned idea of scratching under the surface and discovering that “sometimes, it is gold that does not shine.”
Explore more of Pejac’s thought-provoking work, ranging from site-specific installations to gallery pieces, on Instagram.
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Editor's Picks: Architecture
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