Street Art and Social Change: Jeremy Novy

June is LGBT Pride Month. And in the upcoming days, the streets of San Francisco will be inundated with rainbow flags.  Since 1970, San Francisco has celebrated the queer community through its annual San Francisco Pride Parade. This year mark’s SF Pride’s 44th year and as always, it will be held during the last weekend of June.

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San Francisco has historically been a pioneering city for LBGTQ rights and continues to be a sanctuary for the queer community today. For these reasons, the city serves as the perfect canvas for artist Jeremy Novy’s work. Sprawled throughout the SoMA district, Novy’s work generally highlights the queer community.

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Based in San Francisco, Novy is one of the trailblazers of the queer street art scene. In a time where queer art hadn’t yet found prominence in the street art scene, Novy pushed to create a space for himself.  According to Novy’s website, “street art itself is a dominantly male heterosexual community; being out of the closet is not accepted.” He notes that in the beginning, many gay street artists’ were stolen or damaged and their works defaced. Despite these challenges, Novy has broken barriers through his street art and shows.

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In 2011, Novy curated the world’s first queer art street exhibit called “A History of Queer Street Art.” His intention with this project was to bring a voice to the queer art community. This project highlighted the queer communities struggles to find acceptance and displayed how they channeled it through their street art – from murals, public works, posters to stickers.  “A History of Queer Street Art” was revolutionary for its time and has set the stage for future queer artists to breakout.

Jeremy Novy fish on telegraph in oakland

Novy’s chosen medium is stencilized street art. He utilizes a flour and wheat paste to overlay stenciled posters over abandoned or unused spots that need more life. As many as 2,000 of his stenciled koi fish can be found throughout the city, including commissioned pieces for the Yuerba Buena Arts Center. His other pieces include pop culture and bondage inspired art.

 

To learn more about Jeremy Novy, visit http://www.jeremynovystencils.com/

 

Street and Social Change: Ernest Zacharevic’s “Splash and Burn” Project

!!splash_and_burn11 (1)Ernest Zacharevic in Medan | Photo by Hype Media

Recently, Lithuanian artist, Ernest Zacharevic brought together a group of artists to begin a curated public works project on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. A play on “slash-and burn,” this project, titled “Splash and Burn” brings to light the problem of illegal palm oil harvesting in Indonesia. Over the course of two years, Zacharevic has gathered a group of creatives which include, Mark Jenkins, Axel Void, Pixel Pancho, Isaac Cordal, Strok, Gabriel Pitcher and Bibichun. Smane 2, Combat, and Reginal O’Niel have also contributed to the project.

splash-and-burn-street-art-campaign-indonesia-designboom-09 Isaac Cordal in North Sumatra | Photo by Isaac Cordal

Conflict palm oil harvesting is not only an environmental issue but a human rights violation due to its effects on transboundary haze, deforestation, and human and animal displacement.Indonesia happens to be the largest producer of palm oil. Facing the large consumer demand for palm oil and timber, the local economy resorts to the “slash-and-burn” to clear up large patches of forest land for palm oil plantations. Farmers first cut down vegetation and set a fire to quickly clear the rest. The World Wildlife Fund estimates that up to 300 football fields of forest are cleared every hour. Indonesia happens to be the largest producer of palm oil.This not only affects Indonesia but forests worldwide.

2splash-and-burn-street-art-campaign-indonesia-designboom-03Ernest Zacharevic in Bukit Lawang | Photo by Ernest Zacharevic

In regards to the environment, “Slash-and-burn” produces emits greenhouse gases, harms local vegetation, threatens biodiversity, destroys animal homes, and pollutes the water. The fires produce a thick smog that engulfs the air. The yellow toxic air has caused 6 Indonesian provinces to declare a state of emergency. To put it in perspective, anything above a 300 pollution index is considered hazardous. Areas of Indonesia can reach as high as 2,000 on the pollution index.

splash-and-burn-street-art-campaign-indonesia-designboom-05Mark Jenkins in Riau Peatlands | Photo by Ernest Zacharevic

Local communities are the first to feel these effects. Deforestation threatens the livelihood of farmers and locals outside of the palm oil industry. Many companies develop farms without the consideration of indigenous people who rely on or occupy the land. Rarely are these people compensated. Children as young as 7 years old can be found working for these companies to support their families. They are paid low wages for long hours and sometimes paid none at all. According to the NGO, Friends of the Earth, the palm oil industry is one of the top four worst industries of forced and child labor.

yessplash-and-burn-street-art-campaign-indonesia-designboom-02Ernest Zacharevic in Medan | Photo by Ernest Zacharevic

Zacherevic first became interested in the matter when clouds of smoke traveled from Indonesia to the location of his studio in Penang, Malaysia. Though the issue does receive some International attention, Zacherevic felt that the media needed to bring light to the outside of the burning seasons. Working with international as well as local Indonesian NGOs such as OIC, “Splash and Burn” creates a platform for an otherwise overlooked crisis. Over the course of two years, Zacherevic worked with these organizations to gather spaces for his curated group of artists to tell a story about the issue. Ranging from murals to installations to sculptures, each piece highlights a different victim of the issue.

YAS        Isaac Cordal in North Sumatra | Photo by Isaac Cordal

Ultimately, Zacherevic’s desire for “Slash and Burn” is to educate worldwide consumers on the direct connection they have with this corrupt industry. From food to cosmetics, palm oil can be found in countless products. Consciously buying products derived from conflict-free palm oil can drive down the consumer demand and make a bold statement about popular palm oil farming practices.

More info about Zacherevic and “Splash and Burn” can be found at: http://www.ernestzacharevic.com/splash-and-burn-2/

To learn more about the illegal palm oil industry and what you can do to stop it, head to:  http://www.saynotopalmoil.com/

Support the displaced Orangutans:                                                                             http://orangutancentre.org/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Street Art & Social Change: Lorenzo Quinn shows “Support” in Venice

With the state of the environment, many historic cities are facing the threat of rising sea levels.  In reaction, Italian sculptor Lorenzo Quinn highlighted this issue by unveiling his latest installation at Venice’s annual art installation, Venice Biennale 2017.

 

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Entitled, Support, the sculpture depicts two hands rising out of Venice’s Grand Canal toward the Sagredo Hotel. The hands reflect the two conflicting sides of human nature – the creative and the destructive.  Support highlights the idea that humans have the direct ability to impact the course of history and the environment. We could destroy the world, however, it is up to us save it.

Quinn aims to highlight climate change and the rising sea levels that could affect Venice along with the rest of the world.  Significantly Venice, a floating city, faces the direct effects of rising sea levels. With his piece, he encourages the world to act now in order to reverse the impact we’ve had on the environment. 

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Quinn draws inspiration from his own children. In an interview with Mashable, Quinn says “I have three children, and I’m thinking about their generation and what world we’re going to pass on to them. I’m worried, I’m very worried.” In fact, the hands themselves are molded after his son’s. Using a method known as “lost wax casting” he created a wax model of the sculpture and molded resin around it. Underwater, four 30 foot pillars hold the hands in place.

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Lorenzo Quinn intends to showcase “Support” as a rotating installation, with plans to bring the hands to other UNESCO World Heritage sites also facing destruction due to climate change.

More of Lorenzo Quinn’s work can be found at https://www.lorenzoquinn.com/