All posts tagged: Jess X Chen

Icy & Sot Stencil An Enormous Blue Whale in LA

Icy & Sot Stencil An Enormous Blue Whale in LA

Street Artists Icy & Sot are thinking about the ocean. More specifically they’re thinking about its largest resident, the blue whale.

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Icy & Sot. Endangered Species Mural Project. Los Angeles, CA. January 2016 (photo © Jess X. Chen)

Up to 110 feet long and 330,000 pounds, the blue whale literally can go 1,600 feet deep below the surface and hold its breath for 10 to 20 minutes.

This brand new mural is the brothers’ first stencil to address endangered species and it took a lot of blade wielding in their Brooklyn studio this month to cut the maritime scene before flying to Los Angeles to spray it out. Their work often speaks of social and political ills such as homelessness, war, arms proliferation, immigration. This is their very first that gives voice to those whose habitats are regularly contaminated and polluted by industry and individuals.

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Icy & Sot. Endangered Species Mural Project. Los Angeles, CA. January 2016 (photo © Jess X. Chen)

“We wanted to use a species that lives in water,” says Sot as they discuss the special project with the Justseeds Cooperative for the Center for Biological Diversity.

“California has suffered a lot recently with their lack of clean water and now the oceans are often polluted as well,” says Sot.

“There is so much plastic pollution in the ocean too,” Icy continues. “What it does to the animals is really bad. I was reading this article and turtles eat jellyfish for their diet. But then people throw plastic bags in the ocean and the turtle thinks they are jellyfish and they eat the plastic. A lot of sea creatures have plastic bags inside of their bodies – they find them when the animals are caught.”

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Icy & Sot. Endangered Species Mural Project. Los Angeles, CA. January 2016 (photo © Jess X. Chen)

The brothers spent two solid days hand cutting the multi-layer stencil here on Melrose Avenue. How many pieces? “19 pieces,” says Icy. “Its not that big but it has a lot of details” The composite image features an enormous whale emerging from the sea in full view of a coastline packed with industrial forms which presumably are dumping contaminants directly into the waters.

As ever, the brothers crash into each others sentences while talking to us. “Whatever happens in the ocean… it comes back to us,” says Sot. “Whether is trash or plastics or oil..”

Icy jumps in, “The fish eat them and then we eat the animals and we have the plastics inside of us.”

“Yeah, It’s a cycle. We are all making a lot of trash – we are affecting the world. Then it all comes back to us,” says Sot.

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Icy & Sot. Endangered Species Mural Project. Los Angeles, CA. January 2016 (photo © Jess X. Chen)

In coordination with scientist Noah Greenwald and Roger Peet, an artist who has been painting murals for this endangered species initiative, Icy & Sot are contributing their skill to help raise awareness about our direct impact on the ocean and animal life.

“The goal is to paint murals about endangered species in communities around the country, near to where those species are found, trying to increase awareness of and connection between communities and their ecologies. We’ve done four so far,” says Peet, and he sights locations in Idaho, Montana, Minnesota, and Alabama.

From the mission statement of the project:
“Everywhere on the earth is special, and has qualities that distinguish it from other places both nearby and far away. One of those qualities is the biodiversity of a place, the plants and animals that call that place home and that maybe aren’t found anywhere else. Those plants and animals embody the history of a place and its future, and contribute to what makes a place special. Many of them are, unfortunately, endangered.”

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Icy & Sot. Endangered Species Mural Project. Los Angeles, CA. January 2016 (photo © Jess X. Chen)

 

Recent news headlines:

21,000 Gallons of Oil Leak Into Ocean Off California …

Fracking Waste is Being Dumped Into the Ocean Off California’s Coast 

Legal Petition Urges EPA to Ban Dumping of Offshore Fracking Chemicals Into California’s Ocean

3 Billion Gallons of Highly-Toxic Fracking Waste Dumped

Millions of Tons of Trash Dumped Into World’s Oceans

 

Our special thanks to photographer and artist Jess X. Chen for sharing these images with BSA readers.

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Icy & Sot. Endangered Species Mural Project. Los Angeles, CA. January 2016 (photo © Jess X. Chen)

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Icy & Sot. Endangered Species Mural Project. Los Angeles, CA. January 2016 (photo © Jess X. Chen)

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Icy & Sot. Endangered Species Mural Project. Los Angeles, CA. January 2016 (photo © Jess X. Chen)

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Icy & Sot. Endangered Species Mural Project. Los Angeles, CA. January 2016 (photo © Jess X. Chen)

 

Here is the link of the project’s site for more information and to find out how you can help or/and get involved: http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/about/creative_media/endangered_species_mural_project/index.html

Thank you to artist Roger Peet for his assistance with this article. More on Roger’s work here: toosphexy.com.

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Please note: All content including images and text are © BrooklynStreetArt.com, unless otherwise noted. We like sharing BSA content for non-commercial purposes as long as you credit the photographer(s) and BSA, include a link to the original article URL and do not remove the photographer’s name from the .jpg file. Otherwise, please refrain from re-posting. Thanks!

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Sisters Sojourn to Kingston to Update the Truth with Jetsonorama

Sisters Sojourn to Kingston to Update the Truth with Jetsonorama

Two new wheat-pasted and hand painted murals by Jetsonorama in New York State’s first capital call to memory the work of the abolitionist and former slave Sojourner Truth, who at one point called Kingston her home. Born as a slave she had a handful of white masters and endured untold sufferings for nearly three decades before escaping to freedom in 1826.

A powerful feminist and human rights activist who began her vocal advocacy in her 50s until her death at 86, Sojourner became an inspirational pillar of the peoples’ movement in the history of the United States and her words and life continue to be relevant and inspirational to many in our current generation of black women.

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Jetsonorama . Jess X Chen for O+ Festival in Kingston, NY. October 2015. (photo © Jetsonorama)

Working collaboratively with artist Jess X Chen, Jetsonorama bring today’s voices to the fore, writing the words of poets as halos around their heads and pasting their photos here as part of the O+ Festival.

“Over the course of a week Jess and I photographed the poets, created the composition, got the work printed, prepped and pasted,” says the artist about the portraits they did of three poets who speak their truth a century and a half after Sojourner: Mohogany Browne, T’ai Freedom Ford, and Jennifer Falu.

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Jetsonorama . Jess X Chen for O+ Festival in Kingston, NY. October 2015. (photo © Jetsonorama)

The artists ran out of time before mounting Falu’s mural, but will do so at a later time. Each of the poets were chosen because of the power of their expression to move minds and hearts today and because of their lineage to the legacy of Ms. Truths impact on the culture.

“In 1851 she delivered her best known speech at the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio,” says Jetsonorama. “The speech was known as “Ain’t I a Woman?” in which she compares the value of her life as a hard working black woman to that of any man. Jess and I wanted to honor the legacy of Sojourner Truth in her hometown and we approached the 3 poets about contributing poems that speak to the challenges of black womanhood.”

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Jetsonorama . Jess X Chen for O+ Festival in Kingston, NY. October 2015. (photo © Jetsonorama)

From Mahogany Browne the came the poem called “Black Girl Magic,” from which this is an excerpt.

“You are a threat knowing yourself.
You are a threat loving yourself.
You are a threat loving your kin.
You are a threat loving your children.

You Black Girl magic.
You Black Girl flyy.
You Black Girl brilliance.
You Black Girl wonder.
You Black Girl shine.
You Black Girl bloom.
You Black Girl, Black Girl
And you turning into a beautiful Black Woman right before our eyes.”

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Jetsonorama . Jess X Chen for O+ Festival in Kingston, NY. October 2015. (photo © Jetsonorama)

T’ai Freedom Ford contributed a poem entitled “i sell the shadow to sustain the substance”, she says is dedicated to Glenn Ligon and Sojourner Truth.

“as black woman i am untitled – nameless
my heart a faint glow of neon wire
buzzing toward some shameless demise.
i stand against walls looking nonchalant.
flashbulbs mistake me for celebrity or bored whore,
same difference.

as black woman i am installation art as negress.
my heart a black plastic bag ghosting streets.
what parts of me ain’t for sale as woman?”

 

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Jetsonorama . Jess X Chen for O+ Festival in Kingston, NY. October 2015. (photo © Jetsonorama)

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Jetsonorama . Jess X Chen for O+ Festival in Kingston, NY. October 2015. (photo © Jetsonorama)

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Jetsonorama . Jess X Chen for O+ Festival in Kingston, NY. October 2015. (photo © Jetsonorama)

For more on Sojourner Truth, you can begin HERE

 

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Please note: All content including images and text are © BrooklynStreetArt.com, unless otherwise noted. We like sharing BSA content for non-commercial purposes as long as you credit the photographer(s) and BSA, include a link to the original article URL and do not remove the photographer’s name from the .jpg file. Otherwise, please refrain from re-posting. Thanks!

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Everyday Magic In The Navajo Nation with Stinkfish, Grafica Mazatl, and Killjoy Press.

Everyday Magic In The Navajo Nation with Stinkfish, Grafica Mazatl, and Killjoy Press.

Who is your muse? Most artists have one, or a few. The portraits that Street Artists leave on walls usually have a story behind them, a personal connection to the figure depicted. The Bogata based Stinkfish began doing graffiti and Street Art in 2003 and has focused his portraits on anonymous people he sees in streets or public spaces – usually without them knowing he has captured their expression while they are in the midst of daily life.

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Stinkfish. Grafica Mazatl. Killjoy Press. Crossroads. Navajo Nation. (photo © Stinkfish)

Creating these images usually only once, they impart their own personal story and create a new narrative when placed into an entirely original location – often in a city far from where they live. Using techniques of stencil, graphic design, and more traditional freestyling aersol graffiti, Stinkfish elaborates on an initial idea and allows it to take on a life of its own. By translating a daily life from one location to another context entirely, Stinkfish highlights our common ground, our shared humanity.

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Stinkfish. Grafica Mazatl. Killjoy Press. Crossroads. Navajo Nation. (photo © Stinkfish)

In September Stinkfish and two other artists worked collaboratively on three walls on or near the Navajo Nation courtesy of their host Chip Thomas (Jetsonorama). Stinkfish, Grafica Mazatl and Killjoy Press all intermingled their respective styles and visual vocabulary on structures in the desert – always collaborating with the vast sky all around them.

The sites include an abandoned trailer in Gray Mountain, Arizona which is about a mile away from the southwestern border of the Navajo nation. The remaining sites are on the Navajo nation and include the 89/160 junction near Tuba City and the Crossroads. Together the three created new works that are inspired by their immediate surroundings while bringing their own muses and travels with them.

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Stinkfish. Grafica Mazatl. Killjoy Press. Crossroads. Navajo Nation. (photo © Stinkfish)

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Original photo from Phnom Penh, Cambodia in March 2015 by Stinkfish (©Stinkfish)

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Mazatl at work. Stinkfish. Grafica Mazatl. Killjoy Press. Crossroads. Navajo Nation. (photo © Stinkfish)

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Stinkfish. Grafica Mazatl. Killjoy Press. Crossroads. Navajo Nation. (photo © Stinkfish)

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Stinkfish. Grafica Mazatl. Killjoy Press. Crossroads. Navajo Nation. (photo © Jess X Chen)

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Stinkfish. Grafica Mazatl. Gray Mountain, AZ. (photo © Stinkfish)

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Stinkfish. Grafica Mazatl. Gray Mountain, AZ. (photo © Stinkfish)

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Stinkfish. Grafica Mazatl. Gray Mountain, AZ. (photo © Stinkfish)

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Stinkfish. Grafica Mazatl. Gray Mountain, AZ. (photo © Stinkfish)

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Stinkfish. Grafica Mazatl. Gray Mountain, AZ. (photo © Stinkfish)

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Original photo from Malmo, Sweden in August 2014 by Stinkfish (©Stinkfish)

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Stinkfish. Grafica Mazatl. Gray Mountain, AZ. (photo © Stinkfish)

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Stinkfish. Grafica Mazatl. Gray Mountain, AZ. (photo © Stinkfish)

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Stinkfish. Grafica Mazatl. Gray Mountain, AZ. (photo © Stinkfish)

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Stinkfish. Grafica Mazatl. 89/160 Junction. Navajo Nation. (photo © Stinkfish)

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Stinkfish. Grafica Mazatl. 89/160 Junction. Navajo Nation. (photo © Stinkfish)

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Original photo from Gulf of Gabes, Tunisia during his time there for the Djerbahood project in August 2014 by Stinkfish (©Stinkfish)

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Stinkfish. Grafica Mazatl. 89/160 Junction. Navajo Nation. (photo © Stinkfish)

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Please note: All content including images and text are © BrooklynStreetArt.com, unless otherwise noted. We like sharing BSA content for non-commercial purposes as long as you credit the photographer(s) and BSA, include a link to the original article URL and do not remove the photographer’s name from the .jpg file. Otherwise, please refrain from re-posting. Thanks!
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50 Years From Selma, Jetsonorama and Equality in Brooklyn

50 Years From Selma, Jetsonorama and Equality in Brooklyn

From Selma to Ferguson, Birmingham to Charleston, Jimmie Lee Jackson to Michael Brown, Street Artist Jetsonorama is crossing the country from Arizona to New York and a half-century of America’s struggle with our legacy of racism and injustice.

As marches have continued across the country in cities like Ferguson, Oakland, Baltimore, New York, Dallas and Cleveland in the past year addressing issues such as police brutality and racism, the south is taking down confederate flags on state houses and the US is mourning another mass shooting.

Now as Americans everywhere are pulling out and waving the stars and stripes to celebrate freedom, this new powerful installation on a Brooklyn wall reminds us of what New York poet Emma Lazarus said, “Until we are all free, we are none of us free.”

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Jetsonorama in collaboration with Dan Budnik. The Bushwick Collective. Brooklyn, NY. June 2015 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Freedom and equality were the goals of those three marches from Selma to Montgomery, pivotal to the passage of the Voting Rights Act signed into law on August 6 1965, a turning point in outlawing discriminatory voting practices. But our legacy of racism cannot be easily legislated out of our hearts or institutions, nor extracted from our systems.

In preparation for this new public piece, Chip Thomas AKA Jetsonorama told us about his take on the undeniable similarities of  the state of the struggle then and today.

“A quote by James Baldwin comes to mind,” he says,  ” ‘…To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.’ Though the times have changed, issues such as institutionalized racism as evidenced by discriminatory law enforcement practices, poverty, high unemployment rates, challenges to voting rights have not. The struggle for respect and equality continues.”

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Jetsonorama in collaboration with Dan Budnik. The Bushwick Collective. Brooklyn, NY. June 2015 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The original photograph by Dan Budnik that he replicates across the wall comes directly from those marches to freedom fifty years ago. “Frederick Moss, a 54-mile core group marcher, rest from exhaustion on Dexter Avenue, the Terminus of the Selma to Montgomery March (25 March 1965)” says the handwritten description of the black and white photograph of a young man lying on his back with one hand behind his head and with his other hand balancing a small American flag perpendicular above his stomach. Jetsonorama wheat-pasted that description on this wall as well.

The original image tells of the fatigue and determination of one marcher in a moment of respite, confident and asserting his place at the American table, willing to endure threats, insults, the fear of reprisal. By itself it can also feel solitary, abandoned.

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Jetsonorama in collaboration with Dan Budnik. The Bushwick Collective. Brooklyn, NY. June 2015 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Using the visual language of contemporary art on the streets Jetsonorama ingeniously updates the image through replication and repetition of the silhouetted photographic image, evenly spacing the image across a deep red wall. Like Magritte’s Golconde, Warhol’s Cow Wallpaper, or corporate advertiser wildposting all over our cities, the repeated image evokes the impersonality of the mass production of everything, cheapening a life and lessening its importance. When multiplied like a mere decorative motif across a diagonal grid it hints at the callous disregard for a huge number of black bodies beaten and bloodied. The addition of a flag calls to mind a graveyard in high contrast, full of nameless lives cut short. The placement also implies that the graveyard extends further than your eye is seeing.

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Jetsonorama in collaboration with Dan Budnik. The Bushwick Collective. Brooklyn, NY. June 2015 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

We spoke with Jetsonorama about the genesis of this project which was many months in the making:

Brooklyn Street Art: On the one hand the 50th anniversary of the marches from Selma gives the events an even stronger resonance. But it may also seem distant from the concerns of a new generation. How do you hope to re-ignite the conversations with this work?
Jetsonorama: I chose to work with a visual metaphor in this piece.  By repeating the image of Selma to Montgomery marcher Frederick Moss who was photographed exhausted, lying on his back in the street at the completion of the march, I’m referencing Eric Gardner, Michael Brown and other African-American men who have died on American streets by the institutions that are tasked with protecting all citizens. I like the fact that Frederick Moss is holding an American flag – emphasizing his status as a citizen who is deserving of equality. and his faith in the promise the flag represents.  Granted, most viewers won’t know who Frederick Moss is but I think the poignancy of a black man on his back holding an American Flag, ad infinitum, will resonate.

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Jetsonorama in collaboration with Dan Budnik. The Bushwick Collective. Brooklyn, NY. June 2015 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: Can you talk about Dan Budnik and his work and why you thought it would translate well to a wall as “street art”?
Jetsonorama: I was raised in the 1960s reading Life and Look magazines. The work of documentary photographers like Eugene Smith, Gordon Parks, Charles Moore affected me such that when I got my first 35mm camera at age 12, I started shooting black and white film, wanting to be a visual storyteller like them. For 22 years I maintained a darkroom where I live and work now on the Navajo reservation and I became part of a community of photographers based in Flagstaff, Arizona.  A long time friend and photographer told me about this guy named Dan Budnik who had moved to Flagstaff.

The first time I met Dan I found him to be an unassuming, gentle spirit.  I had no idea of the breadth of his work until a year later when he approached me about wheat pasting some of his work in Selma to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the march.  I saw a copy of his book “Marching to the Freedom Dream” that documents approximately three years of witnessing the Civil Rights Movement and I couldn’t believe this guy was in Flagstaff.  I mean, here was one of the photographers from the humanist photography movement that influenced me – living only 2 hours away.  When the possibility of getting work up in Selma fell through I started looking for walls elsewhere to get some of Dan’s work from the march up.  Dan’s images are powerful and timeless.  They’d work well in any context.

 

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Jetsonorama in collaboration with Dan Budnik. The Bushwick Collective. Brooklyn, NY. June 2015 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: The country is gripped in a conversation about police brutality and its use against communities of color and the poor. How can an artist address such a prevalent systemic racism and classism?
Jetsonorama: You know, like Bob Marley said “…Who feels it, knows it.”  I think it’s especially true for artists of color that we don’t have the privilege of pretending like we’re living in post-racial America now that we have a black president. The challenge really is how to get a conscious message out without alienating wall owners (for those people working on legal walls).  Personally, I still find inspiration in the utopian ideals of artists like Diego Rivera and the witty criticism of Robbie Conal + Blu who chant down Babylon.

Brooklyn Street Art: Do you think of this work as appropriation? Collaboration? Repurposing?
Jetsonorama: It’s straight up hip hop and punk in that Dan gave me the source photo and I remixed it.  I think of it as a collaboration. Dan saw the mock up for the piece and was cool with it.

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Jetsonorama in collaboration with Dan Budnik. The Bushwick Collective. Brooklyn, NY. June 2015 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: With this topic and Dan Budnik’s photographic work, you could have prepared a show in a more formal setting. How does the experience of your art here on the street differ from seeing it in a gallery, museum, or a home?
Jetsonorama: After presenting work indoors for 22 years I started getting up outdoors in 2009 and haven’t looked back since.  I started working on the Navajo nation in northern Arizona in 1987 and have been photographing people from the tribe since that time. I’ve had shows of that work in various places around the county but the people who I was photographing never saw the work. Now that 95% of what I do is pasted images along the roadside on the reservation of people from the reservation, the work feels more honest and has deepened my relationship with the community.  The dialog with the community and the level of trust have grown through the project.

Brooklyn Street Art: What do you hope a viewer will take away from this piece?
Jetsonorama: The piece speaks to parallels and patterns. A successful intervention might be for the viewer to be prompted to recognize patterns of behavior in his/her life and to consider whether those patterns are contributing to or detracting from humanity. On the other hand, not getting tagged would be a good thing.

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Jetsonorama in collaboration with Dan Budnik. The Bushwick Collective. Brooklyn, NY. June 2015 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Jetsonorama in collaboration with Dan Budnik. The Bushwick Collective. Brooklyn, NY. June 2015 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Jetsonorama in collaboration with Dan Budnik. The Bushwick Collective. Brooklyn, NY. June 2015 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Jetsonorama. The Bushwick Collective. Brooklyn, NY. June 2015 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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The photo from Dan Budnik is of Frederick Moss. On the caption above, Mr. Budnik explains with his own handwriting the circumstances of the photo. CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE.  The Bushwick Collective. Brooklyn, NY. June 2015 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Jetsonorama in collaboration with Dan Budnik. The Bushwick Collective. Brooklyn, NY. June 2015 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Jetsonorama and BSA wish to extend a heartfelt Thank You to photographer Dan Budnik for the use of his photo for this project. Also to LNY, Nanook and Jess X Chen for their assistance and to Joe Ficalora at The Bushwick Collective for facilitating the wall in Bushwick, Brooklyn.

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Please note: All content including images and text are © BrooklynStreetArt.com, unless otherwise noted. We like sharing BSA content for non-commercial purposes as long as you credit the photographer(s) and BSA, include a link to the original article URL and do not remove the photographer’s name from the .jpg file. Otherwise, please refrain from re-posting. Thanks!
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This article is also published in The Huffington Post

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