A&E » Q&A

Living Walls: Indigo

Cape Town, South Africa



Indigo is a Canadian artist who lives and works in Cape Town, South Africa. Her background — growing up in the woods of British Columbia — influences the placement of her meticulously worked wheat pastes, which sometimes adorn natural mediums like trees and rocks. Indigo is also an accomplished dancer, having spent time working with collectives and ensembles throughout the United States and Canada.

What about the conference itself or the city of Atlanta drew you to participate?

I was invited to participate earlier this year, and after seeing some really great work from last year's festival, I was more than happy to take part. I've never been to Atlanta before but have heard really great things about the city and the organization from artists who have been a part of it in previous year. This will be my first festival of the year and I'm really looking forward to it.

How do you feel about this year's Living Walls lineup being all-female artists?

I have mixed feelings about it, to be honest. I am super stoked that there are so many amazing women working in this genre of art, within a scene that is for the most part dominated by men. But it shouldn't matter what's between our legs, the work is what's most important. I don't think you need to have an all-girl festival in order to explore ideas of gender in art or to celebrate what it means to be strong, creative, and female. I would like to be seen as an artist first and foremost, not as a female artist or a black artist or a Canadian artist or any of the other things that could be used to describe a portion of who and what I am without representing my entirety. I am honored to have been included in the lineup, but I am more interested in celebrating what it means to be human.

Why do you think public art is important?

Public art is important as a way of reappropriating public visual space, a protest against the commercialization of the urban landscape. It is a means of communication with a local and global community, a way to interact with our environment, a way of giving back to the people whose paths we cross.

How do you think public art affects the community or city it is displayed in?

Every community needs color and inspiration. Public art rejuvenates spaces, provokes discussion, encourages critical thought, and inspires creativity. It can bring brightness and smiles and provide an alternative way of thinking about the world for any environment, from underdeveloped communities to the most affluent neighborhoods all over the world.

Unfortunately, in many cases it also adds to the gentrification of poor neighborhoods. In every major urban center, artists and their creations are used as cultural capital by property developers and city administration officials. We take up residence in the cheaper corners of cities, work to improve our communities from within, until developers take notice and real estate prices rise, buildings are sold and residents are evicted, condo towers go up, chic boutiques, high-budget agencies and restaurants move in, and a community that once held a vibrant and eclectic mix of inhabitants suddenly turns slick and commercial. Whether we like it or not, we're an integral part of that process.

What inspires your artistic process?

I tend to go back and forth between really planning out a wall and letting things develop more organically, depending on the needs of the project. To be honest, they usually turn out better when there is more planning beforehand but I think it's also important to be comfortable working more intuitively. It's still something I'm working on.

I generally start out with a photo reference that is either sketched out on paper or just painted directly from the photograph. Most of the time I work from photographs that I've taken myself. More often than not the reference images are chosen based on a specific concept. Sometimes it's just about having some fun putting paint on a wall. A lot of the mural work I do is collaborative so there is always a certain amount of back and forth design with the other artist(s), whether that happens in a digital mock-up or on the wall. Everyone has a different way of working, and so each collaborative project is a big learning experience for me.

What do you hope people get out of your work?

I am always very conscious when painting murals that while I, as a visiting artist, may never see the piece again in person, the people in the community will have to live with the work day in and day out. I would like the community to feel a sense of ownership and pride in the work as much as possible — to create something that has relevance to the location it is placed, something that fits with the environment and the people who live there.


Next: Cake

Cake, an artist hailing from New York, has been decorating walls around New York City since graduating from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. Her female characters loom large on public spaces and seamlessly interact with their environments.Her background in painting has made her a major player in the street art movement...

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