RANDOM

LET'S PLAY

LET'S PLAY

Let’s Play is a celebration of this gathering space at the Shipyard in Green Bay. It features the branding colors and font in a geometric arrangement, as well as some of the endangered species in the area, including the gray wolf and whooping crane, and white-tailed deer. The patterns in the design are inspired by the Menominee people and serve as an acknowledgment of the land in which the space exists.


MZ & DORITOS

MZ & DORITOS

We are in full swing of mural season and have barely had a moment in the studio. All the wonderful projects are blooming including this one. In route to another project we had to pop by our studio to pick up this beautiful press release package of our partnership with Doritos. We couldn’t be more thrilled to help celebrate this year’s change-makers and elevate all of the cool work they’re doing and celebrate it with this beautiful packaging. The artwork’s theme is all about Thriving!

This limited edition bag is available nationwide at Walmart. While we were on the road, we noticed it hadn’t hit stores in Green Bay or Milwaukee, but we’re getting messages from across the nation of folks picking up this bag in local stores. Grab a few if you can.

Here’s a link to the project!


HEAVY DISTORTION

HEAVY DISTORTION

We were the proud recipients of the black music city Grant and for this project we decided to do an augmented reality piece celebrating sister Rosetta Tharpe.

Heavy Distortion is an augmented reality project celebrating the influence of Sister Rosetta Tharpe. She is most known for a technique called heavy distortion. This piece aims to immerse the experiencer in heavy distortion.

Huge thanks to
#BlackMusicCityGrant @wxpnfm  @recphilly
#sisterrosettatharpe

AR USER EXPERIENCE INSTRUCTIONS

Heavy Distortion V1

The first one is image responsive. Meaning that if you download the @Artivive app on a mobile device and show it the image marker and it will activate the Augmented reality.

Heavy Distortion V2

This one is activated by a link or QR code.


MZ BK XBOX

MZ BK XBOX

Over the winter we were minding our business planting seeds and tending to our garden. This of our first spring projects.

We had the lovely opportunity to collaborate with @xbox and their celebration of the Brooklyn Nets’ 10 years in Brooklyn @seedbrklyn.

Time is so interesting. I feel like it was just yesterday when all of BK was up in arms about building that Barclay center, but at the same time had excitement about a basketball team returning to the borough. We’ve been so humbled to experience such a grand transformation.

We definitely have very, very bittersweet emotions around the Brooklyn that exists now and past Brooklyn but in the stew of life, I guess it’s all one big pot of gumbo. And the one thing that is a constant is change. We’ve changed. It’s changed. You’ve changed. No one is the same as who they were before.

For this project, we created a mural, limited edition jackets and a very limited edition run of custom prints for Xbox. It was a real pleasure to be in community and celebrate. They even got us to dust off our thread skills and we had a live embroidery set up doing patches. It was a lot of fun.

Some of you may remember that under a different iteration, we used to be on the streets of New York City almost every weekend vending, selling bizarre handmade upcycled goods and artwork before there was language and context behind what we were doing. This event took us back to the early/mid 2000s and had us thinking about our journey.

We channeled that journey into this work and the illustration created for the mural and we’re beyond thrilled to be able to mirror that back to BK.

Much gratitude to @palettegrp for including us in this celebration


WHEN IN GERMANY

WHEN IN GERMANY

We were invited to Flöha, Saxony, Germany along with a bunch of other incredible artists to transform this closed paper factory into a playground of creativity for this year’s @ibug.art festival

The process:
When we asked about assigned spaces we were told by the organizers to let the wall speak to us. I’m not going to lie. It’s really stressful to create work on the spot. It’s a great exercise but it’s rough. Our installation piece ‘PRODUCTIVE HUMAN BEING’ was created on the spot and in response to what we learned about the paper, factory and materials that were found in the building.

The context:
There is a lot of intersectionality btwn the fall of industrialism in US cities and the story of this paper factory. Folks put a lot of value and identity in occupation and seem to start blaming anyone they think they can when stuff falls apart.

This area is seeing a rise in right wing support because just like a lot of the center states folks feel forgotten, work isn’t what it use to be and pivoting is harder than blaming marginalized people and honestly it’s hard to find grounding when bellies are grumbling.

The work:
So it got us thinking… If value is subtracted from productivity, perhaps most of this wouldn’t be so much of an issue. This installation piece tackles the concept of unhinging the correlation between what we make, who we are and where we sit in society. We painted a mantra of ‘value does not equal productivity’ and ‘productivity does not equal value’ on rolls of paper that we found in the factory. We then assembled these pieces on the wall to create a sculpture falling out of a hand coming out of the building. This was done as a reminder that there is more to life than work and what we make though it is important to make. It’s important to also understand what and who we’re making for.

The Protectors.
Of course we had to bring our people with us. This is an iteration of our piece called the ‘Protectors’. There are a couple figures in the collage that are images from the US archives of people who were sharecroppers and/or former enslaved people. We incorporate these figures into this collage because it’s important for them to be dignified and there’s something incredibly satisfying about bringing them all over the world to see what we see. I’m glad we brought them. As much as we enjoyed ourselves, being ‘othered’ is exhausting.

Speaking of dignity, taking responsibility…and all things that come with making amends, here is an observation. It’s seems way easier to be apologetic when you don’t have to live/deal with/see the folks you are apologizing too. It’s like apologizing to relics.

This is all intersectional.

The lesson: the people who have been the victims of the atrocities are the ones who determine if amends have been made/proper reconsolidation have been put into place. It is never determined by those that have inflicted the atrocities. They were never qualified to do that, thus the atrocious acts.


NEW GROWTH

NEW GROWTH

50’W x 15’H mural

We were invited to Edmond OK to create this piece for Sunny Dayz mural festival. We decided to focus on New Growth. The term new growth is often associated with chemically-altered textured hair and transitioning hair, new growth is often easily detected. It appears thicker, with greater texture–when relaxed hair begins growing out, and/or is seen as the person’s natural hair color–if hair has been color-treated.

We used this analogy when creating this piece. The concept of growth is organic, expressive and sometimes scary. This piece is a celebration of transitions and the support that it takes to grow.

It’s a reminder that growth is wide, larger than us, and requires healthy roots.


INVISIBLE MAN

INVISIBLE MAN

60’W x 15’H mural

Invisible Man was commissioned for Oklahoma City’s Plaza Wallz Festival. It honors the legacy of the author Ralph Ellison and his book Invisible Man. The mural has an augmented reality component and is animated upon activation.

Location: 1708 N Indiana Ave, Oklahoma City OK


THE FULL SET: THEIR FLOWERS Edition

THE FULL SET & BLINK

Kendra Stepp-Davis and The Mz.Icar Collective were invited to display The Full Set at this Years BLINK Festival. We are so thrilled.

The Full Set is a 20-foot high inflatable sculpture of two hands with long interchangeable nails.

For BLINK we will be designing a new set of Electric Nails entitled ‘Their Flowers’

The ‘Full Set’ is a playful origin story that plays with the complex intersectionality of American Culture. This piece creates a reason to gather, connect, and celebrate Blackness.

Black culture has often been exoticized commodified or downplayed when authored by Black people. However, when co-opted, validated, or appropriated by white people it is celebrated and embraced. For example, Florence Griffith Joyner brought nail art to the masses in the late 1980s. At that time this style was considered ghetto, gaudy, and unprofessional. Fast forward to now this trend is considered chic, and vastly represented but mostly because it was validated by white culture. The issue with this is that by removing origin, the story is half told and authorship is erased. This erasure creates more invisibility to the contributions to culture by Black people and in the case of nail art, Asian people as well.

This project serves to dismantle the constant appropriation of Black culture in a fun playful way. It is a way for ‘Blackness’ to iconically take up and occupy the spaces we have previously been shut out of, underrepresented, or pushed out of.


Zeigler Park Cincinnati OH Oct 13th-17


PERSPECTIVES

Perspectives Mural: Dr. Charles Dillard Center 791 E McMillan St, Cincinnati, OH 45206

We had the pleasure of experiencing Walnut Hills from a ‘people’s first perspective’. It was eye-opening to learn about the history of the area, the legacy of the people, and the hopes for the future that people have. We sat down and chatted with people who are vested in Walnut Hills and learned about their hopes and dreams and aspirations for the future.

Jay Hill schooled us on the deep legacy of P-Funk and Afrofuturism and it’s Cincinnati roots. We loved that this vibrant black entrepreneurial epicenter was the incubator for the creativity that later came to be P-Funk. As a forward-leaning community-focused musician Jay Hill embodies so much of the philosophy around Afrofuturism. We felt that him being depicted with the Bootsy Collins glasses was only fitting. Allen Woods discussed the lessons of perspective he gained from photography and applies to his endeavors as an artist, community leader, and teacher. His hand and camera are displayed prominently in the mural composition. His interview reminded us of how important visual storytelling is and the multiplicity of perspectives that come along with any moment. Gee Horton shared glimpses of his process, stories of his subject matter, and explorations of some of the intimate soft points in modern adolescence through his illustrations and relationships with the subjects. Geoffrey Sutton gave us a walking tour around the neighborhood and vividly painted the picture of what this neighborhood looked like before reckless city planning was applied. He spoke of the businesses, the ecosystem, the autonomy of the people, and the lives that they were building for themselves and future generations.


We quickly came to understand that we have not visited Walnut Hills without visiting Kathryne Gardette and her husband Baba Charles Miller. She spoke with us about her creative practice and threadwork passed on from her ancestors as well as her continued study and incorporation of West African heritage and her work.

We rounded out our interviews with Dr. Dillard of the Dillard Center. He chatted with us about his medical contributions and long relationship with Walnut Hills. The Perspectives Mural lives on the Charles E. Dillard Center Parking lot wall. This building is a hub for entrepreneurs and community gatherings. This connection was fostered through a long deep relationship with the community. We are honored to have Dr. Dillard chat about that relationship with us.

One of the things that all the people have in common is this graceful way of pushing walls, moving boundaries, and widening the worlds in which they live. We tried to depict this in the mirror through composition and placement. People are creating enriching experiences for themselves as well as the people around them and that’s something that we saw throughout the Cincinnati visit.

We combed through hundreds of photographs at the Geier Research Center with the assistance of curator, Arabath Belasko. These spoke to this place of home and possibly a Black Eutopia for many Black people. The irony of MLK being built through this thriving community is not lost on us nor is the future of what these brilliant people will and are making. These roots are deep and they continue to attach and thrive. The people are here and now. Welcome to Walnut Hills.

Our hope for this mural is that it is a continuation of widening the way in which we tell stories and hold history. The entrepreneurial influence that this city had and continues to have on its residents, neighbors, and visitors is depicted through the Bootsy Glasses on Jay Hill. We pay homage to the foundation and influence of Walnut Hills with images of the Manse Building and photos from the archives, including the people in the doorway.

We decided to compile these stories and interviews into a short documentary that is augmented over the mural itself.

The use of geometric shape black with splashes of spectrum color represent a rhythm and flow. It is to depict movement, as nothing stays the same. These changes can be stewarded by people with vested interests in being of service to one another and perhaps that’s something that Walnut Hills is moving towards.


Keeping with the theme of dynamic future perspectives, we have added VR as an additional way to engage with this piece and experience the documentary.

We have edited the interviews we did on the visit and have incorporated sound bites in the AR component and a link to the full documentary.

This is a behind the scene image of the AR voice and facial mapping.

 

The AR component is generously powered by ARTIVIVE.

THANK YOU

This project was generously produced and sponsored by ArtWorks Cincinnati. It was lovingly and tediously painted by youth artists over the summer of 2022 and will be showcased as part of this year’s FotoFocus Biennial.


PORTRAITS


SOLID BLACK

We are thrilled to have lent our skills to Doritos Solid Black Initiative. For this project we created a piece called Legacy. It’s featured on a limited edition bag available at select Sam’s Club and on Snacks.com

Our piece Legacy represents a future-leaning collective ethos of blackness. We are channeling call and response. We are channeling ‘throw it back’. We are channeling raising the vibration through a collective consciousness. This piece is a love letter saying, ‘ I see you. We see you. We see us.’ The green on the bottom represents foundational growth. The fluorescent colors on the top represent possibility and vibrancy the faces blend into one another because our existence requires us to do so in a radically, empathetic and collective manner.

As part of the SOLID BLACK initiative, Doritos is donating $125,000 to five non-profit organizations that support the next generation of black changemakers. This includes @4oakcliff a Dallas black lead non-profit located just a few miles from where the solid black bags were made.