with street art
An Annual 'Giant Letter' Installation Displays a Heartfelt Note from a 100-Foot-Tall Boy Named Bobby
Every year on December 12, a handwritten letter on oversized lined paper appears on a residential lawn in Chicago or Austin. The massive constructions, which stand between 8- and 12-feet high, are part of an ongoing project that shares heartfelt messages between an imaginary 100-foot-tall boy named Bobby and those who matter most in his life (aka his mother Lucinda, cat Mr. McFluffins, and Santa).
Chicago-based artists Caro D’Offay and Laura Gilmore began Giant Letter back in 2012 as a way to connect with their community following the tragic killings at Sandy Hook Elementary. Marj Wormald joined the pair a few years later, and together, they’ve installed 10 iterations. “We’re trying to create an atmosphere,” D’Offay said in an interview. “The person standing there can in a way feel very small but also have big emotions. It can be transformative for someone, and they’re just walking their dog.”
During its decade-long run, Giant Letter displays have included microscopes and astronomy books, huge pencils and cups of tea, and of course, chocolate chip cookies and milk. Every piece also sets a “Bobby box” nearby that encourages visitors to drop in messages they’d like to share with the child. In the most recent version installed at the intersection of Glenwood and Albion avenues in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood, a 35-foot tool stretches alongside a letter from Bobby’s mother detailing her cancer diagnosis. “I know this is a much bigger tape measure than you probably need but I want you to dream big and make giant magic!” it reads.
Organizers say the 2021 installation will stay in its current spot indefinitely, although they’re hoping to transfer the project to a museum or gallery in the future. You can follow their progress on Instagram.
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Tagged with graffiti and marred by a chipped facade, a stately Victorian home in a Sydney suburb is the site of a brilliant site-specific installation by artist Ian Strange. “Light Intersections II” uses angled beams of light to impale the derelict structure and permeate outer walls, windows, and the ornate, metallic railing on the second-floor balcony. Illuminating the battered building, Strange’s monumental public work is one of his many projects that explores ideas of home through architectural interventions.
The artist, who lives between Melbourne and Brooklyn, relies on the concepts of drawing to inform much of his practice, with a particular focus on how single marks alter perspectives and affect understandings of the material world. He explains:
The lines of light in ‘Intersections’ are an attempt to place abstracted perspective lines back into the environment. These drawn perspective lines don’t appear in nature, but are staples in both painting, drawing, and architecture, used as a way of containing, representing, and changing the natural environment.
Commissioned by the City of Sydney, “Light Intersections II” follows the artist’s 2019 project that installed a similar concept throughout the galleries and around the perimeter of Melbourne’s Lyon Housemuseum. Watch the video below for a tour of the radiant home, and explore more of Strange’s work on Instagram. (via Street Art News)
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Since Tbilisi Mural Fest began in 2019, the streets of Georgia’s capital have seen the towering, large-scale works of artists like Collin van der Sluijs (previously), Case Maclaim, and Faith XLVII (previously), whose celestial, intersecting circles are a highlight of this year’s event. The 2021 festival features nine pieces in total that range in aesthetic and subject matter, including a mythological, black-and-white stencil by MonkeyBird (previously), bold botanicals by Thiago Mazza (previously), and a striking t (via Street Art News)
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Artist Xomatok (previously) translates the vibrant, geometric motifs of handwoven Andean blankets, or llicllas, into large-scale works that mark the pathways through the hilly Alisos de Amauta neighborhood in Lima, Peru. Painted during the course of two months as part of the Municipality of Lima’s Pinta Lima Bicentenario, the 13 interventions were a collaborative undertaking by the artist and local residents, who transformed the public staircases that wind through the district into multi-level canvases. The resulting patterns are kaleidoscopic and highlight a spectrum of bright colors and symmetries often associated with the traditional textiles. In a note to Colossal, Xomatok says community members will add to the project as a way to continue celebrating their cultural history, and you can take an aerial tour of the finished pieces on the artist’s Instagram.
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Rosehips, horned poppies, and an African carline thistle grow from the debris and ruined buildings in Beirut following a mural series by Faith XLVII. The South African artist (previously) traveled to the Lebanese city this September as part of Underline—the ongoing project is helmed by the art collective Persona in collaboration with the Hamra-based NGO Art of Change, which is focused on using public works for protest and to spark change—to paint a collection of curative flowers that appear to sprout from the rubble.
Contrasting their dainty forms to the rugged landscape, the metaphorical works in Medicinal Flowers of Lebanon lead “us along the brittle sites of Beirut, tracing past and present scars etched into the city,” the artist says. “Each flower urges us in a sense, towards healing as they grow out of the concrete.” The chosen botanics are remedies for common ailments, like using chicory to treat gallstones or slathering clematis paste on skin infections, and they rely on the strength of their natural properties to cure wounds that are both visible and not.
Faith’s visit to Beirut came amidst a period of crisis following the devastating port explosion on August 4, 2020, that left the country without a fully operative government for 13 months and accelerated its economic collapse. “The people of Lebanon have had many dire challenges over the decades, and the expectation for them to be resilient is exhausting,” the artist says, explaining further:
Even in a time with four hours of electricity a day and waiting for hours for petrol that might run out before you make it to the front of the line, where your life savings are suddenly worth nothing, even in this time, there are still some rays of hope. There are many people and organizations working to improve the conditions of others. So when we are abused abandoned by the custodians of justice and governance, it is the people themselves who pick up the debris and assist each other in healing. That is what the series Medicinal Flowers of Lebanon speaks to.
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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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