Local artists-in-residence cultivate hip-hop culture through street art
As artists-in-residence at the MFA, muralist Rob “Problak” Gibbs and illustrator Rob Stull are leading a multipart project inspired by the exhibition “Writing the Future: Basquiat and the Hip-Hop Generation.” Highlighting intergenerational connections and the importance of youth participation in cultivating hip-hop culture, the project includes a community mural, a series of original drawings, a publication and map of street art around Boston, and a documentary video.
Gibbs, co-founder of Boston’s Artists for Humanity, worked with students from Madison Park Technical Vocational High School and Artists for Humanity on conception and art direction to create a new outdoor mural in Roxbury. The mural, Breathe Life 2, centers on a girl enveloped by a giant bubble surrounded by books, ideas, art, and knowledge emanating from her backpack. It will be painted onto the exterior of Madison Park High School, a mile from the MFA. Stull, a comic book and graphic design professional who has worked for Marvel and DC comics, created a visual response to “Writing the Future” with a series of tribute drawings to four artists in the exhibition and one to Gibbs. The black-and-white drawings use the graphic language of comic book art to honor hip-hop culture.
Gibbs and Stull collaborated on a comic-book-style publication, illustrated by Stull, that documents “The Mural Project” and features a map connecting the new mural to other street art around Boston. Beyond MEASURE Productions, a Boston-based, diasporic-owned filmmaking company, created Co-Sign, a documentary video that explores Gibbs’s and Stull’s influences and considers the core missions of street art and its essential connections to hip-hop.
Gibbs and Stull see their residency as an opportunity to energize young people and inspire a belief in the power of art. By passing on the influence of Jean-Michel Basquiat and his contemporaries, they hope to encourage new generations to share their own experiences.
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