In ‘The Boy Who Wanted to Fly,’ Sentrock Imagines the Origin of His Signature Bird Character
Wander through Chicago’s streets, and you’re bound to encounter one of Sentrock’s signature bird characters (previously). Disguised in a red mask with big eyes and round, pink cheeks, the boy is curious, imaginative, and playful, often seen interacting with animals, daydreaming, or riding a bike. The fictional figure is also the artist’s expression of strength and hope, particularly as it relates to his own childhood in the Mexican-American community of the city’s Pilsen neighborhood.
An ongoing exhibition at Elmhurst Art Museum celebrates the character and his lineage through sculptures, installations, paintings, and murals. Drawing on Sentrock’s background in street art and graffiti, The Boy Who Wanted to Fly spreads several narratives across the galleries. A massive, ten-foot sculpture lounges on artificial turf, and smaller, colorful paintings help compose the figure’s origin story. At the center of one gallery is a child-sized birdhouse cloaked in the artist’s stylized renderings, with vibrant works on paper taped to the inside walls. Interactive lightswitches transform the interior into a vividly colorful playhouse. A final gallery culminates in a wall-sized animation that brings Sentrock’s work to life for the first time, and as a whole, the collection is an homage to Sentrock’s upbringing and “a gesture of compassion for his community.”
The Boy Who Wanted to Fly is on view through January 15, 2023. Follow the artist’s work and news about future limited-edition prints and sculptures—keep an eye out for a special merch release in the Elmhurst gift shop in early December—on Instagram.
Share this story
Sentrock Captures the Sights of Chicago’s Pilsen Neighborhood in a New Series About Mental Health
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.
Share this story
Editor's Picks: Animation
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.