We chose this configuration for the final Sunkist mural because the guardian-like being in the upper right hand corner felt very much engaged with the decisions that the figure carrying a shopping cart might make. The shopper is in the produce section of the market, and the character hovering over him is peering into the shopping basket with a hopeful gaze.
The Sunkist mural is a bold interpretation that brings vibrancy and the values of their brand to life through art. Inspired by the principle that Sunkist was founded on, that “we are stronger together”, Sunkist exists to empower individual farmers to do what they might not be able to alone. Sunkist encouraged me to work with a mentee Uriah Bussey. We had creative freedom which allowed for unconstructed expression and an authentic voice. It has been a pleasure working with Sunkist because they are a cooperative that supports pride in our communities and culture.
The creative process for the Sunkist mural allowed Uriah Bussey and I time to think and look through magazines and resources like the internet for inspiration and then come together to brainstorm and hear each other’s ideas. This collaboration possibly goes beyond Uriah and Sunkist and me, we are participating in a mass collaboration when it comes to creating, consuming and sharing. We’re tapped into a collectiveness and we are influenced more by each other, thanks to tools like social media.
This is a temporary mural that will be on the wall for two months, however it’s potential for longevity is in congruence with the internet’s ability to archive and disseminate photographs of the project. Plus, the internet is able to lapse time and space and allow more people access to having conversations about artworks that they might not be able to see in person. This mural project was also a great opportunity to explore the possibility that consciousness is global deployment that comes through communication networks like the internet and a harmony with nature. I believe that we are made of what we consume, and that we are an accumulation of our surroundings; thus the title of the Sunkist mural is “You Are What You Eat”.
Uriah Bussey and I went to the same University at different times and our professors from Kutztown connected us after I graduated. We developed a sense of mutual regard and admiration for each other’s artistic talents. Uriah’s renderings are intricate and use thin meandering lines to form a figure. Her style is subtle and plays with interesting textures, contrasts and shadows. My mark making technique fuses vibrant colors together that drip and splatter. I love the contrast between the vibrancy and energy of the splatters in foreground figure combined with the weightlessness of the background figure. Uriah and I experimented with many mediums in the mural drafts from color pencils, to micron pens, oil pastels, paint markers, paper cutouts and digital vectors that then translated into a mural painting. We digitally weaved our designs together with layers in Photoshop. The Sunkist mural is essentially a collage of various materials, mark making techniques and observations about the ways in which a story can develop. We stumbled into the finished mural design; it’s an image that just feels good.
There is some abstraction in the design that leaves space for viewers to use their imagination and form a narrative.
There’s a defecate of artworks that showcase black life outside of crisis and tragedy so I chose to insert a marginalized demographic because I wanted to provide visibility and positive representation for someone that felt familiar to me because public art has the power to expand and reshape consciousness. The richness in what you’re seeing is the contours of the figure shopping without being able to make out exactly who you are seeing, however I’d say it’s an older black male. We’re living in a strange time in American culture when what it means to be human on earth and the ways in which we exist and what we consume can empower us. I also didn’t want the conversation to stop at gender, race, age or comfort, it’s also about a human experience. We can branch out and think about how the mural is making us feel, what the artwork is trying to understand about us and how we came to be what we are.
The figure above him is an embodiment of mother nature, or a spirit, or some other worldliness. There’s a symbolic communication that’s evident in the position of the branches with high hanging foliage and citrus fruits arching over the human that’s shopping. There’s something very tender being projected onto the Mother-Earth-like figure in how her hands flap like tendrils curling on both sides of the human, it’s a reflection of the natural world around us and an innate desire to expand.
I appreciate how public artworks like murals are a platform for communication between a wide range of ideas and perceptions. It leaves us open to learning about who we are.
The address of the Sunkist mural is 1050 N 2nd Street in the Northern Liberties section of Philadelphia, across from the Piazza and Wahlburgers Restaurant.