Monday, October 15, 2012

Graffiti Artist

Graffiti Artist. 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 Juliane Lofquist-Birch’s blog ( from the moment I started posting on my own blog. 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."

For this Decision Portrait, I had originally 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!
Personally, I find graffiti totally mesmerizing. There's a special place in Columbia that I've photographed....just full of graffiti.  I love this place.  I'm also totally against random graffiti 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.
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 DREADFUL.... like a childhood whimsy of color or a gay pride rainbow. (Neither of these things are "bad".... just totally inappropriate for the vision of this piece!)

I stood back for a minute and then knew exactly what to do. ADD BLACK SPRAY PAINT. I took a deep breath 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.   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!

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 topic.... to spray or not to spray.... to deface public property or wear proper equipment or risk one's health....plenty of decisions!

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