BSA Images Of The Week: 04.22.18 – Focus on BKFOXX


Welcome to BSA Images of the Week. Normally on Sunday we give you a hit parade of different pieces on the street so you can stay connected with the movement on the street. This Sunday we are looking at work-in-progress images of just one large piece by New York Street Artist BKFoxx, one artist of the current mural-making generation who draw inspiration from advertising, pop culture and photography, melding them together into a polished photo-hyperrealism.

An occasionally formally trained artist who joins the many professionally skilled artists who have put in the time on the current legal mural wall scene. Now travelling the world to paint at festivals as well as putting up walls in NYC, she is frank about her current home in Long Island and her roots, recently telling Graffiti Street “I’m from the suburbs. I was raised in a culture vacuum, so I’m just trying to learn as I go. It’s terrible.”

BKFOXX. Detail. JMZ Walls. Bushwick, Brooklyn. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

It is a disarming admission perhaps for the hardcore graffiti scene that once characterized the New York street, but an otherwise perfect position for a globalized cultural hierarchy that been flattened by ubiquitous digital communications that obliterate boundaries. It’s a healthy message: we’re all trying to learn so bring your best game.

We have found a certain refreshing straightforward attitude among the late Millenials and first outliers of Gen Z that is not defiant to that “old” street order necessarily. Instead they seem ready to face the New Order of late capitalism with the communication tools that they have gathered and refined along the way.

BKFOXX. WIP. JMZ Walls. Bushwick, Brooklyn. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

While there has been a lot of hand-wringing by critics from the 1st wave (80s-90s) and 2nd wave (90s-00-10s) of graffiti/Street Art over the exploding mural movement for reasons rooted in hard-won scrappy street cred (and some nostalgia) no one is debating the New Muralisms’ powerful impact worldwide on public space, even if there is not yet appreciable critical discourse. From the old rebels turned gatekeepers there is a guarded and qualified appreciation yes, but probably not enough props are given for the new space that this muralism is creating for more artists and voices.

With a commercial eye toward the natural world and larger societal issues BKFoxx chooses subjects for their emotional impact and their ability to translates easily for an image-savvy audience whose endless hours of personal screen entertainment has produced an expectation for big budget Hollywood and consumer culture slickness with high-production values.

BKFOXX. WIP. JMZ Walls. Bushwick, Brooklyn. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

With much consideration and dedication to the craft of painting as well as content, this can be seen as a departure from the hit-and-run Street Art culture of a decade ago, one that can only be accomplished with many hours and days on a legal mural.

BKFoxx sees with a photographers eye and sometimes directs the image to address subtext, even with biting critique: an American movie/tv culture that normalizes violence, the consumer acquisition mindset that reduces human interactions to superficiality, our disrespect for the same Earth that we depend on. It’s a credence built around the metaphoric image, whether with direct agenda or not, and BKFoxx is gifted at crafting some the strongest ones to communicate.

BKFOXX. WIP. JMZ Walls. Bushwick, Brooklyn. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

We spoke with her this week about her newest mural in Brooklyn, a fictionally realistic scene of actual bear cubs looking with curiosity at a patched up toy bear. We asked her a few questions in between her breaks.

BSA: The animals depicted in your work have the feel as if you personally know them. Do you know some of them?
BKFoxx: Some of them. The less wild ones. I try to take my own photos as much as possible, but it’s tough when you’re painting a grizzly bear.

BSA: How do you communicate with animals – through conversation?
BKFoxx: You communicate with animals the same way you do with someone who doesn’t speak a word of your language. And it’s difficult, but when you have a moment of understanding between you, it’s one of the best feelings.

BKFOXX. WIP. JMZ Walls. Bushwick, Brooklyn. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

BSA: What do you think will happen when wildlife runs out of space because of increasing encroachment of human displacement of their habitat?
BKFoxx: I don’t know. I hope it doesn’t come to that. I think the thing people seem to miss is that their environment is everything around them, not one person or one place, but everyone and everything. Nobody lives in a vacuum. We are all affected by the world, no matter how far it seems from us sometimes. Taking care of the environment is taking care of ourselves.

BSA: There’s realism in your work but it goes beyond that. Your pictures are often imbued with social commentary. How did you become interested in social issues and why is so important for you to give them voice on your work?
BKFoxx: Social issues are just human issues. I paint things that I think, that I feel, affect me or people I care about. It’s actually hard for me to paint sometimes unless I am able to speak through it, I need to feel like there’s a reason for the work. And like I mentioned in the last answer, your environment is everyone. If I can improve the lives of the people around me, the quality of my own life will improve. And the world is so small these days, everyone is not too far away.

BKFOXX. WIP. JMZ Walls. Bushwick, Brooklyn. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

BSA: There’s also a mild sense of humor in your work, a gentle wit about it. Do you agree and if so can you talk about it?
BKFoxx: Part of the challenge for me is being able to say something important and profound but also keep the image itself light. I want you to want to look at it and find it aesthetically pleasing, even it’s about something kind of negative. And I like things that are tongue in cheek and clever – life without a sense of humor is pretty terrible.

BSA: What is the biggest challenge to painting outdoors in the city besides the weather?
BKFoxx: Being (usually alone) in an uncontrolled environment and trying to focus all my energy on working at the same time. And honestly, being a female. But only because people take so many more liberties when interacting with women than men. I know people, mostly strangers wouldn’t be sneaking up on me and hovering a foot above my shoulder or grabbing me for a photo if I were a dude.

BKFOXX. WIP. JMZ Walls. Bushwick, Brooklyn. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

BSA: Who was your biggest influence when you were growing up?
BKFoxx: My dad. He is one of the best people I’ve ever met, everyone loves him – I’m very lucky to have him. He has always been incredibly supportive of anything I’ve wanted to do, and he really genuinely doesn’t care what I do as long as I am happy.

We used to play John Madden football on our Sega when I was a little kid. He would beat the crap out of me, and then at 60-0 he’d let me score and pretend I did it myself. I’d celebrate for a second, and then catch him smiling and throw a tantrum that he gave me any free points, which then made him laugh really hard. He’s my guy.

“Thanks so much to everyone who came to the opening and to everyone who supports my work!”

BKFOXX. WIP. JMZ Walls. Bushwick, Brooklyn. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

BSA: When you paint you listen to music. What’s on your play list?
BKFoxx: All kinds of stuff, depends on my mood. I have a classical playlist, a hip hop playlist, an alternative playlist – just having something going helps me focus and block out the world around me a little bit.

BSA: Have you ever lived someplace else besides Long Island?
BKFoxx: I was born on Long Island and have always lived there – although I won’t always live in NY. I keep moving closer to the boroughs but New York City life is expensive and small – I need some space for paint. So sometimes I feel like I live in Brooklyn during the day and sleep on Long Island at night.

BKFOXX. Detail. JMZ Walls. Bushwick, Brooklyn. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

BKFOXX. JMZ Walls. Bushwick, Brooklyn. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

LowBrow Artique is currently hosting a small exhibition by BKFoxx and she has created a limited edition print called “The Long Road Ahead ” for it.