Following an active street art career spanning more than fifteen years, Faith47‘s work can be found in major cities around the world. Using a wide range of media including graphite, spray paint, oil paint, ink, photography and collage, her approach is explorative and substrate Appropriate – and rescued from found objects, to time-layered and history-textured city walls and their accretions, studio prepared to canvas and wood.
Through her work, Faith47 attempts to disarm the strategies of global realpolitik, in order to advance the expression of personal truth. In this way, her work is both an internal and spiritual release speaks to the complexities of the human condition, its deviant histories and existential search.
Here we talk about her latest works, her influences, what moves her and also about her upcoming show ‘Aqua Regalia – Chapter Two’, opening this week at Jonathan LeVine Gallery in NYC.
Julie: You have been very busy since your latest mural in NY ‘Estamos Todos Los Que Cabemos’, which explores the issues of immigration. Could you please elaborate?
F: I see all religion as a misguided rational, and indeed the economic structure that we operate within is self destructive to us as a species.
I do believe there are alternative paths – technology and invention play a part in this, but beyond any technological advances that can benefit us, first we must have a deeper understanding, a greater empathy. For only then can we use our great minds and progressions to bring about sustainable living on the planet.
This kind of need for humanity to operate on a greater consciousness, could be seen as a spiritual yearning, or merely as a logical need. For instance, to balance out the feminine energy in a very male dominated world structure is important right now. Introducing notions of awe, in order to soften the hard shell we have built around our minds.
J: Coming from South Africa can you tell me a bit more about how its complex history has influenced you in any way?
F: South Africa has shown me difficult things, bearing witness to extreme social inequalities and complicated race and gender dynamics is a painful thing.
I am very grateful for traveling as much as I do, as I no longer feel that I need to identify with one ‘place’ on the planet. I see the earth as a whole body, and humans as one species, not divided into nations and groups. This has allowed me to slowly discover my own preconceptions and social conditioning and let it drop off of me, in order to investigate who I really am, what I believe, who I want to be, what work I want to make, instead of just blindly reacting to the situations around me, which is what one tends to do when surrounded by intense political environments.
It’s bit of a curse and a blessing. I see South Africa as a very soul-ful country that needs allot of healing and also holds some answers that the world can learn from.
J: Can you tell me a bit more about your artistic background?
F: I was always interested in art but never studied due to lack of funds. I was introduced to the graffiti scene in South Africa through my greatest friend, Wealz130.
For several years I was immersed entirely in this, focused on lettering and calligraphic styles and painting characters. After some years i felt the need to expand my practice, to explore new mediums, to really develop the relationship of my work within the environment and also my work to my own inner narrative.
So I moved away from traditional graffiti and started to develop as a more rounded practitioner of the arts.
I’ll always have a deep love for painting in the public sphere but i am now also exploring other mediums, printmaking, video, installation, photography. i want to be unrestricted in my life and in the things that I do.
J: Your large scale murals are always spectacular and poignant, how the urban environment determines your approach and the work you will be painting?
F: I always intend to create an image the strikes a dialogue with the space around it, there is a certain mood that each building has, a certain history. I want to read this and add to it somehow. I like my paintings to look like they have been there forever and to integrate within, rather then to sit outside of the environment.
J: I have been lucky enough to have seen many of your exhibitions around the world including your solo show Aqua Regalia recently held in London. I was really drawn to the inclusion of objects you collected from your travels as well as photography and collage installation. It felt like the audience was invited to your travels diary.
F: The second chapter of aqua regalia is this opening this week in New York, its an ongoing narrative. While traveling I’m
J: There is also a section called ‘Voyage’ on your website. Is it an ongoing project?
F: Voyage is a photographic diary of moments that capture me that I’ve managed to document.
Some of the images are grainy and blurry and others crisp and clear. The thread through out is the feeling of that moment, I’m not afraid of a bit of grime, not obsessed with the perfect technicalities of the photo, I am interested in the perceived reality of a situation and how it really feels to be inside of a very specific moment in time.
J: I find it very inspiring seeing talented women artists on the scene. It seems there is still a gender disparity in this world though, and we were pleased to see many women invited at this year’s Mural Festival as well. What’s your take on this subject and how do you feel it is evolving?
F: Most of who we become is prescribed because of our upbringing, for instance I was never give plastic toys and barbie dolls. I was not brought up in the typical conditioning of how most girls are. So having that tom boy kind of attitude from a young age, made me want to always make things and go exploring.
I think the way society and our parents condition us – albeit unaware – has a massive impact on the kind of things we spend our energy on as adults.Perhaps this is the reason for the large disparity between the number of men and women in many professions.
J: Any exciting upcoming projects that you want to share with us?
F: I have a few projects that we are initiating in 2016 that i feel are part of a new chapter for me.
This year I made a conscious decision to alter the way I work and to re-steer my own creative direction, so I’m really excited to see how these new ideas grow in the new year. I will definitely keep you posted as each one develops.
Aqua Regalia – Chapter Two, The solo exhibition of new works by Faith47 opens this week at Jonathan LeVine Gallery | November 19 – December 19 2015 | Opening Reception: Thursday, November 19, 6 – 8pm
Photos courtesy of Faith47