COMFORTABLE DOESN’T GET ITS HANDS DIRTY
Christina Angelina doesn’t like canvas, or frames, or boundaries. She’s always been an artist, but struggled to find the right medium. Whether she was drawing, painting or doing graphic design, she was constantly bumping up against what she was supposed to do, what her work was supposed to look like. Then she found street art and became Starfighter.
Christina describes it passionately, “It finally hit me that any public wall could be my canvas, not only small spaces; any structure, any location could be repurposed as a canvas. My work just kept growing from there, like a plant in a big pot; and if there is no pot, potentially the plant can grow exponentially and infinitely. I realized that there aren't any limits to our canvases, and there aren't any limits to what art can be, for any of us. When I started thinking outside of the box, the work grew.
Now she chooses the walls she paints, unconstrained by the rules or spatial limits of galleries. She ascends the walls she paints using long ladders or a lift powered by generators that sit in the bed of her truck. Often she becomes so engrossed in a project that she paints for days at a time, stopping only for the occasional 20-minute nap in her car. A former marathon runner, Christina says this is harder.
The murals are immediately impactful, most of them strikingly realistic portraits of expressive female faces. She uses color and shading to communicate mood, and connect each piece to its surroundings. The physical place itself helps to inspire the work, and the work then shapes the experience of the place, creating a kind of ecosystem. The works become a part of the landscape.
Nowhere is this more true than at her mural in South Central, LA. Covering the wall in an alley that used to be filled with trash, it’s become a destination for runners, a backdrop for a photo portrait series of local leaders and a popular local selfie spot. The founder of Smile South Central, an organization that brings street art to South Central and commissioned the mural, says it’s the emotion in Christina’s work that resonates with him. He believes that emotion, and the connection to place and landscape that it fosters is the long-term, subtle work of Smile South Central.
Asked if it’s going to end gang violence in the area or stop drug use he says, “no. It’s about opening a dialogue in the community and stimulating the people who live there -- adding something inspiring and meaningful to their block.” Christina intimates, “To me, Smile South Central means community. It is about bringing something beautiful and inspiring to your neighbors, your home, and your community.
The work is free, open to interpretation. It’s the unrestricted exchange between the artist, viewer and place Christina was looking for.
Don't Get Comfortable
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