S T O P T H E V I O L E N C E
Art Park Project upon the wake of COVID, I generated a REBOOT program year; calamity historically makes for creative fertile ground. It was a moment of “LIFT”, Artworks rose up inside my being, compelled to VOICE in ACTION! This included a COVID series and then as a life-ring of an artistic expression, Graffiti Bridge, at the APP underground museum, near here, a sitework was born. Necessity being the Mother of Invention: as a grand art therapy project I found myself Art Exploring foreign media and it’s usages, in light of the Tsunami like Pandemic, Wild Fire like Economic Disaster and the Ground Quaking CHANGE brought on by the recent Civil Uprising. At the onset of this year 2020, my physic intuition, was at a high pitch; anxiety disorder, social distancing issues, Anger Management ALL surfaced exceedingly early. I cannot explain, how my internal operative system/spirit knew the feelings that would overcome and overwhelm most everyone in our future, as we mutually traveled separately down this darken path together of “GRIEF”. I recognized the symptoms, I had recently experience deep grieving in 2018, even further back another Great Loss in 2003.
First came the COVID series an elaborate Illustration, as a refashioned “goddess series”, an over top “Dirty Baker’s Dozen” mixed media cathartic expression, as if an adult superhero comic book. I excused myself in suffering “Tourette’s syndrome” at that time. My heart was heavy for folks that might be in the high risk, COVID group and certainly my own peers in age bracket; late nights in the “Dream Scape” room, in what started as quarantine then morphed into lockdown, caught up in a virtual reality series, playing before us all, on our mobile devices. Of the COVID series, my own self portrait generated a new alter ego, and this one sort of scared the hell out of me, even as I was in constant prayer. She was tough, rough, mean, scarred, seamed, broken, barely put back together, with glass heart, (like the balloon that slips away from the BANKSEY little girl), death was in her eye, the other stitched close, she bore another tattoo, doc martin boots, shredded stockings, bent over backways in a contortionist repose, might could be a Halloween costume, her face (red & yellow, black & white) a patchwork of pain, Buddhist clouds patterned her purple torso. (see Instagram link) or follow on IG visionary_contemporary
…Raggedy Franken F-ing Anne. I described to a young artist *ally, behind the scenes, everything I was producing on the drafting table seemed to have a life of its own. I felt as if I was riding a very fast horse and trying to hang on, the creative surge was overpowering. As seen in great detail, COVID series # 2, 1 of 13 illustrations, RaFfA; Her Angst, executed the summer project; the personae that came in to pick up the cans of spray paint later. It would be the entire summer project, Graffiti Bridge that opened up, specifically, deliberately commanded, Memorial Day the start and Labor Day the finish.
RaFfA would also become my “TAG” handle, as a self-taught Graffiti (nontraditional) artist; not only had I become an “outsider” in my last incarnation, from 2018, that rebuilt version was now, Reboot into something else altogether different. As unlikely as the drafting for this Graffiti was in great detail, (Norman Rockwell illustrative style), and this is where I claim to have folks from the other side, assist (séance style), especially our dear friend the late Robbie Bell. Originally the vision had swept through my mind’s eye, in the form of scribbled thumbnails; emerging from a visit at the site, under the bridge, as old graffiti tags peaked out from the underbrush. I guess there had been curiosities about this place, at the bottom of the knoll. Circling Back, the phrase came from my last artist statement, associated with a campaign membership Team Brandon Scott for Mayor; STOP THE VIOLENCE …was my war cry at the turn of the New Year!
These associations kept happening as if a sign of what was to come. The thumbnails on a yellow pad, became motifs that lettered the phrase and later became a poster. It was for me a way to feel connected to my “New Tribe” as of 2019, a member of this underground coalition for the people! Even as I typed this statement , staging a trip, to clearly one super red state, most likely my mom’s last birthday; with the Election pending, voting early Monday, that theatrics and parlor tricks has driven most to a level of “rope-a-dope”, current state of affairs, that one can hardly begin to processed. Each Letter STV addresses the top to the bottom issues, that are a cycle of chronic problems, meanwhile I had an intent to infuse not with anger, but with blessings for Baltimore in “Love & Peace”. The Breaking Point was of course the beginning; Memorial Day the Murder of George Floyd! The Civil Uprising, The Civil Unrest, The Civil War that drags on, an ol’ Southern saying “they gonna keep fighting that war till they win”. I am clearly a defector, not a daughter of the Deep South. Here I was in my new promised land, Baltimore trying to process the pain and portray it as I must, solo, scared, inundated!
S T O P
“S” inspired by Mr. Imagination, Cobra Snake, African Flag signature colors, spray paint his medium of choice. “T” inspired by the first little one I knew we “saved”, Eli became my internal poster boy for the humbled efforts at the outdated, but paramount community rec centers; this letter was complex, and I had no vision of how these images could be translated into graffiti art? Added to “T”, the Excalibur Sword of King Author’s folklore, something powerfully imbued with magic strength of character. A third element an homage to my sweet “baby boy” guardian angel *Morris, brilliant and beautiful, his talents of design, MICA grad, whom had just showcased a signature line of his men’s suits at the Historical Society and featured in BMORE magazine, the red suit! “O” my first year back out in the wild, solo 2019, Baltimore dispatch to design, implement & instruct Art Explorations, I cried allot. The BCRP leadership lifted me up and carried me, healed me, breathed life back into my shell. The Pirate (ECU) skull & cross bone mast flag, now flag ship, tiny watermelon boat, …whenever I did a DEMO of the Scribble exercise, I would draw this image, Sonnie (our APP Cheshire), harrowed, hanging on the mast, atop the tiny round boat, in that flag motif was me, a crying girl skull. Note: Winter Series was the first time Skull Motif was created as Art, & outside of the APP New Logo, my first attempt at “spray paint”, formally expressed on canvas. “O” The image became large, charred, eye holes burning from the destruction brought by distraught and disillusioned people, depicted in Fires of RAGE, as only this expression can show. The NO sign in red, the circle cross through getting to that breaking point, crying tears of blood, with my now glass broken heart. “P” evolved with hands overlapping shades of black and brown, to create the skin of a basket ball or globe, the vines the hoop, of mother nature, the beginning of time and mankind, post the project execution, this letter would take more meaning, as the NBA stepped up to the plate to again draw attention to this chronic issue, “BLACK LIVES MATTER”. There has been a secret inspiration for me, a Powerful Motivation, a MUSE if you will; I had said you could not spell STOP THE VIOLENCE without their name.
T H E
“T” as another tribute, one of last year’s students, Gardenville Rec, a darling “good trouble” little girl; I nicknamed these special folks, my “First Flock”. The angel wings loose and free, bright canary yellow, a signature color of Mr. Brian’s and a hallo of our state flower black eyed susans. These beautiful children filled with hope and promise, in this case a sassy strong spirit at such a young age …it is for them we must offer a better world! “H” was early on centered around, (now four year prior) a peaceful protest, gaining awareness, led by Kaepernick, taking a knee during the National Anthem, …drastic times calls for drastic measures. “E” an idealized notion, a world without guns, PEACE: old school daisy in the riffle, or here black eyed susan in gun barrel, drawing attention to: chronic violence, homicides, gun violence top & bottom, issued guns, police or private, fuel by the opioid crisis & OD’s added into the mix, lower gun piece, wrapped in mother nature’s vine of life, and not to mention the neighborhood residuals, the Trauma, PTSD, Anger Management, etc. the middle of the “E” letter, the dagger the knife of life “MASH” theme song “suicide is painless”, this “E” cries E N O U G H of Death & Violence!
V I O L E N C E
“V” became a symbol in its own right, a strong and bold emblem, sabers of justice created the V; adding lessons I had learned of the heart, it houses four chambers and these became the upper hands creating a familiar heart sign, while bottom pair of hands are holding up in a blessing gesture, once again (red & yellow, black & white). “I” I had revisited the goddess Lady Baltimore, once again an image explored within my last winter production, instead of the De Chirico version or Savage (Ghost & Shadow I & II), she morphed into a jade statue, as a soothsayer or seer, holding golden orb, rudder as protection, and laurel as a breast plate, her garment more of a cape. “O” the classic PEACE sign, indigenous flowers of Baltimore the model and fashioned as a wreath, in graffiti version hearts were added and accented peace plant. “L” the Big Blessing, a Buddhist Monk in prayer with beads, chanting of the heart, that the violence would soon end, floating on a stone. “E” two king snakes intertwined, embracing, our Maryland flag, shared with the last “E”, while a large and lovely spirit animal Praying Mantis patiently waits. In the middle the letter “C”, sea filled with sea creatures, see the artist eye, balancing at the tip of a big wave, 2020 election BLUE WAVE AMEN, the lush and peaceful power of the color BLUE, the only other blue would be Buddhist clouds floating throughout each wall face, my last day, tying together the wall spaces.
“N” is the KEYSTONE Letter celebrating BLACK LIVES MATTER, just as in real time, this summer, the street scape was brilliantly created in DC, then gloriously spread throughout our country, showcased on main streets in major cities USA, BLACK LIVES MATTER AMEN!
RaFfa had a new tattoo, a recreated APP logo, my 1st spray paint on metal steel plate, then transposed into the LOVE PEACE LIVE ART Mantra logo, Art Park Project; the heart had been instead of red, the new Baltimore Heart of our gold and black flag pattern, post Trump trashing our City of Baltimore …people went out in droves to get. So too did I, get another tattoo just prior to the solo mask up & gloves Graffiti Bridge. It was mid-summer by then, riots, protests, peaceful protest, marches, from Freedom Weekend to Fourth of July, I had been unable to participate, locked down in my psyche & physical form, so I created my own protest sign to display on the side porch, as I prepared to TAG Graffiti Bridge. So many things made no sense, I had never done graffiti, generationally, geographically, gender …and YET, I found my AGNST driving to Home Depot, like a kid in the candy store, the colors were already beginning to be pick off, shelves emptied, but I left with a pallet of what would be 25 tones, colors, finishes, looking like trouble …a man behind me in check out said, “you must have some kind of RUST problem” (RUSTOLEUM product) I said, “I DO”.
I had swept the wall space down at Graffiti Bridge, earlier texted for assistance by Leadership, or maybe an accomplice, if nothing else good company, …but it would be only from afar. Earlier I had encouraging feedback from my guardian angel, late into the night at the drafting table; intense yes but had not the whole year been, a battle ground of emotions, boiling over with heat. Somehow, I would not be at PEACE until this little known, out of the way project was complete. At some point I realized, I knew nothing of the right of passage per Graffiti; the rules, there was a google dictionary, the internal regulations, obviously gang tag territory there, RESPECT of this new artform …I didn’t even have any experience in spray painting anything prior. The weather was moving into the heat wave of summer, later I texted, I think my biggest concerns were, “Poison Ivy & Angry Devin”. I found out, you would not want to piss someone off, cover up a gang tag; but then a profound concept of creating a blanket of peace to layer on top of these radical expressions, integrated within existing graffiti, left behind by others, 8 years old or so, seemed befitting, …hopefully maybe they were survived or outgrew this lifestyle.
I remember feeling, “I’m not worthy”, BANSEY had just posted his clever as always, “I Get Locked Down”, on Instagram, I created a home installation in tribute, two mice, face mask parachutes, but also feeling so scared, heart racing, I geared up with overalls, N95 mask, later gorilla gloves, a recycled ArtScape badge (my official camouflage) and then selected the pallet of spray cans per tag. I’d carry the cans in two 6 pack holders, and for some reason would take my morning long walks, fill up on a subway wrap, and try to find my voice, in a FAST & FURIOUS medium. Spray Paint feels like a roller-coaster, it gets away so fast, the smell is strong, the colors intense, these were spray nozzle, no crisp line, one can only try to image to layer and shape with the paint and you do not know what you have until the dust settles. It is an artform for the angry, although I prayed every window prior to each tag, I thought of my little art babies (6 Rec Center youth), BCRP Leadership my new tribe (that has my back), APP Management Frontline Men (for continued Faith), Historic City of Baltimore, Charm City, "Greatest City in America" (plagued with problems), and yet I had only met salt of the earth folks here. I knew this was not a solution, maybe a cry for help, or attention to the cause, from the madness of the homicides on top of Civil Unrest in a Pandemic during an “off the rails” Election year, had simply caused for everything to MELTDOWN. The state of being to command this solo reboot mural project was, “RaFfA”, there was a part of me that could not wait for it to be over and another that cherished every moment, slowing down, putting room round the project. Each Letter, these heavy-hearted motifs, were to be recreated in Spray Paint, from a tracing on a window newsprint template, solely armed with 2 6pks of color. Spirit Painting and Cave Drawing (Brian Dowdall), my last mentor, as with each letter/tag, someone was a part of the message, ie COBRA “S” Mr. Imagination, his spirit was with me. This was a solo and very lonely journey, midway I visited the infamous local site destination Graffiti Alley, even in the pandemic, back into phase 2, an awe-inspiring field trip, it was as if I were possessed. Then each Letter, woven into the rough cement wall spaces, knitted in-between existing graffiti, in sunlight I tagged, in prayer, in hope, in beauty, in love, in light & art! The execution was done entirely through my third eye, I could not actually see what I was doing, I could sense it, it was lonesome too, but I was in a MOOD. I grew in a non-traditional method of graffiti, but flying by the seat of pants, found my way. The difficulty somehow soothed me, distracted me, healed me, once again, as the pain & anger purged. I do not know if it is great art, or if the message will be heard or even last, I do know it embodied my whole being, and achieved PEACE within myself. The Project Piece was always intended to be as Graffiti, the interpretation of the Letters was surprisingly rewarding in this new art frontier and was as much a mystery to me as any viewer. I simply let go and road the wave, tried to stay of the horse, galloped off into the sunset to finish!
Full Circle: RaFfA TAG, probably my best image as a street art aesthetic (and only of the template newsprint) strangely a most power drawing, and is the closest to an authentic Graffiti pieces from what I understand. As a TAG, logo, artist sur name, the image crying skull, cross bones for lettering, the third eye balls out of socket, the scars, the spider web, the spider, the glow eyes, of intensity, add red lipstick lips, sexy skull, finish with 2020 date, including retro moon eyes, BONG!!