magic finnga wond with students in thunder bay painting macs streetart mural

Mural Project in North Bay Brings Community Together

One of the greatest things about street art and murals, in particular, is their ability to bring people together. This is not only true in the way murals and street art interact with the everyday person, ie. through viewing and playing with pieces of public art, but also in their creation. All around the world, mural programs reach out to community members and introduce people to the power of art, and give them the tools and skills to start or continue their own artistic journey.

Here on the MuralForm blog, we have dedicated a lot of space to the many mural programs we hear about and witness, both locally in Toronto and around the world. It is an important part of who we are and why we do what we do. And today we have yet another incredible example of a mural arts program doing good in a community. This time in North Bay, Ontario.

In the northeastern Ontario town, a local Mac’s decided it was time to give back to the community that has served them so well, and they did it through a simple yet powerful donation: the large wall on the side of their building. A plain wall by any standards, Mac’s convenience store owners, along with North Bay Police and Near North Crime Stoppers, decided to get the local kids and youth involved in a beautification project. The goal: teach the kids how to make murals and paint the wall with a memorable a beautiful piece of street art. They called the project Mac’s StreetArt initiative and it was a huge success from the moment it got started.

mural painted in thunder bay

To make the project a reality, the Mac’s StreetArt initiative invited Toronto muralist and graffiti artist  Magic “Finnga” Wong to their town. Together, they started a three-day program that encouraged participation in every single facet of the mural, from coming up with the design to the actual painting.

Magic Finnga Wong helped the many locals who came out and participated learn the finer points of spray painting, all while teaching them the code of street artists. Namely to respect each other’s work and to contribute to the community rather than to desecrate it. “When you invite the kids from the neighbourhood or anyone in general from the area to come out and paint it makes it theirs,” he said in an interview with Sudbury. “It becomes ownership to the neighbourhood.”

The piece, now finished, is a testament to the power of murals to not only beautify space but enrich people’s lives. Now, these community members have the start of the skills they need to continue on their personal artistic journey. Who knows, the next great graffiti artist may have got their start painting the Mac’s wall in North Bay, Ontario!

drew lausman creating art via explosionism

Explosionism: Using the Power of Fireworks to Make Art

There are thousands of “isms” in the art world. Surrealism, abstract expressionism, postmodernism, regular modernism. They all have a history, their fans and their detractors. But there’s a new “ism” that has come out. It’s called “explosionism” and it’s making quite the bang in the art world.

Explosionism is the creation of Drew Lausman, a Lakeland-based artist who’s lifelong love of fireworks has turned into a brand new art form. At its core, the new art style is both rambunctious and audacious. Lausman dips a firework or firecracker in paint, sets it off and checks out the result. And what results they are, many of which you can check out on Lausman’s Etsy page.

beautiful starry landscape horizon artwork by drew lausman featuring his explosionism style

 

Explosionism, like many amazing innovations, comes from a combination of desperation and tragedy. “Part of my inspiration came from actually having little materials at the time,” Lausman told Business Insider. He goes on to explain “that when his brother passed away in 2009, he left behind a ton of firecrackers, leading Lausman to use those as a way to create art.”

From that initial step forward, Lausman has only improved in his chosen technique, with some seriously incredible results. Many of his paintings, some 200 in just four years, are incredible, beautiful and unlike what you would expect from the process. There is a level of detail and precision to the work you would not normally expect and, in that, it defies expectations.

explosionism artwork by drew lausman

While his art is impressive, as is his output, Lausman is quick to stress the importance of safety and experience when handling fireworks and firecrackers. “Everyone likes playing with fireworks. However, it’s not all fun and games,” he says in one of his demonstration videos. “Creating art with fireworks can be a dangerous craft .When I’m doing multiple explosions, I’ll have parts of the firecracker blow up, basically on my leg, or on my jeans. I make art with fireworks. I still blow myself away sometimes. I’ve done 200 paintings in four years.”

explosionism artwork featuring starry night sky by drew lausman

Explosionism is a brand new genre of art, one that proves unique and new ways of doing things can be created every day. It also stresses the importance of how art gets made, not just the end result, which goes a long way to humanizing artists, an important step for getting the pay they deserve for their labour. Another benefit of explosionism’s approach is Lausman’s output, which allows him the chance to sell his art at lower prices and reach more and more people. It may just be one of the ways of the future that we’re just learning about today!

Dito Von Tease: “Thumbtastic” Fingerprints

When one thinks about their own personal identity, the things that make them unique, they may think about a great number of things. It could be their personality or their history. It could be their life’s work, their career. For some artists, they become known for their major, most famous contributions. Shepard Fairey, for example, will now forever be known as the OBEY artist and, of course, the artist of Obama’s HOPE image.

While there are many things every person can point to and say “that makes me unique,” we also have individual parts that make us unique, and one no more recognizable than our fingerprints. And for Dito Von Tease, the artist behind “Ditology,” the finger holds a special place: it’s where he makes his art.

Ditology is a personal project of an unknown Italian artist, Dito Von Tease, which comments on how our fingers and fingerprints are helping us stay anonymous in this digital age. The project sees Dito painting up his fingers as famous celebrities, be it historical figures or more recent celebrities, turning his individualized fingers, with their fingerprints, into renditions of familiar and famous people.

artwork by dito von tease

“In Italian someone could say I wanted to ‘hide myself behind my finger’ (nascondermi dietro un dito): it’s a popular metaphor to indicate a not-very-effective hiding place,” Von Tease explained in a piece for Bored Panda. “In the “digital age”, our fingers are the “tools” we use to keep in touch with the world through touch-screens, mouse pads and keyboards. In a sense, we are all “hiding behind a finger” while surfing the internet… Probably, even in the real life we hide ourselves behind an image of us: a mask we create to protect the uniqueness of our finger-print. This is true especially for celebrities, who live [behind] their masks.”

ditions artwork by dito von tease

To date, Von Tease has created thousands of these fingerprint portraits, with subjects ranging from famous paintings like “The Mona Lisa” to beloved TV characters of days gone by, like “The Addams Family.” The series “Thubtastic,” according to Von Tease, references Facebook’s famous thumbs up symbol, which is a powerful commentary on the contemporary digital experience.

the addams fingers artwork by dito von tease

Anonymity on the internet has been a major issue almost since its inception. Social media sites like Twitter and Instagram, which allow people to create accounts without any connection to their “real world” identities, have only compounded this issue. Musician Jack White famously called the internet a “sea of cowards,” which ties directly to the ways people can harass without real consequences. But for Dito Von Tease, anonymity is a chance to provide some perspective, and some commentary, on our contemporary digital experience. By remaining anonymous themselves, Von Tease offers people a blank slate in which to enjoy his artwork.

Dito Von Tease’s artwork and finger portraits can be viewed on his website, which houses his many portraits as well as his numerous other artistic endeavours.

air ink made by graviky labs

Air Ink: The Paint Made from Car Exhaust

Smog. In some places around the world, it has become an almost daily reality. It forces people to stay indoors, endangers the lives of people with lung and breathing complications and, until recently, was a source of ugliness in the world. While no one would surely celebrate air pollution and smog, one Indian-based company is taking it and turning it into art. Or, rather, the means with which to create art.

In mid-2016, India-based company Graviky Labs announced Air Ink, their brand new invention that turns soot into paint. The idea came to Graviky Labs’ founder and self-described “perpetual inventor”  Anirudh Sharma. The idea came to him while he was discussing smog with his friends, who complained it left stains on their clothes. Wondering if the stains could be a little more permanent, rather than less, he set out to turn soot into paint. His work started in a lab at MIT, but he soon went to India to complete the project.

Air Paint is created on the exhaust pipes of cars, of all places. Since cars are one of the world’s leading polluters, and a fairly steady source of carbon emissions, a special device can be hooked up to the exhaust system to capture the carbon soot. The captured soot is then purified to remove heavy metals, carcinogens, and other unnecessary elements, and then blended with other materials that turn it into a durable paint.

“The soot is blended with oils to create oil-based paint, the spray paint is packaged with compressed gas and canned,” Sharma said in an interview with CNN. “To a user, the end results are materials that function much like any other paint they use.”

The paint is stored in what Sharma calls “an Air Pen,” which holds soot from 30-40 minutes of car emissions.

Since the project was announced, Graviky Labs has partnered with Tiger Beer to test the product on the streets of Hong Kong, an area of the world that is notorious for its pollution levels. Artists were given Air Pens to create murals and other pieces of artwork around the city. Thus far, the murals, and the messages they send, have been well-received. As for Air Ink, Sharma is hopeful that it can have a positive impact on the world. “”The ink will confine the particulate matter [found] in emissions, that would have otherwise gone in our lungs,” he says. ”What we’re doing at this point is repurposing a pollutant that makes people sick, is destroying our environment, and exists all around us in our air.”

Air Ink is still a long ways off from being in your local store, or on the back of your car, but Graviky Labs is currently researching how to produce Air Pens on a larger scale. Hopefully, the art, and the paint, could help spread the word about environmentalism throughout the globe.