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Graduating Senior Shines in Street Art Spotlight

Gaia (interdisciplinary sculpture)

Posted 04.01.11 by mica communications

Gaia, Rooster Messenger Cradling the Head of John the Baptist

Participating in Art Basel Miami Beach, being written up in The New York Times (multiple times), and exhibiting worldwide are career achievements any artist would be proud of. Called an "artist-of-the-moment" three years ago by The New York Times, graduating senior and street artist Gaia is proving his moment is not fleeting.

Gaia, who became an interdisciplinary sculpture major to pursue his passion for theory, wants his audience to find his works beautifully stunning, yet appreciate them on a deeper level. His alias is the name of the Earth goddess in Greek mythology, and his half-human-half-animal subjects come from his generation's frustration of feeling bound to globalization and the awareness that Earth is in a precarious state.

His recent projects address problems of poverty and segregation. In these works, Gaia places architectural figures that have shaped a city landscape back onto the surfaces they designed, along with quotes explaining the reasoning behind their urban plans. "Robert Moses, the preeminent power broker of New York and propagator of modernist design, is superimposed back onto Route 40, and Baltimore's James Rouse, the innovator of American downtown reinvigoration, is installed onto the Waverly development, one of the first urban renewal sites in America," Gaia said of two of his Baltimore projects. "Such street pieces are intended to reanimate the past while revealing the infrastructures and policies of urban planning, and identifying who is responsible for these invisible forces."

These works are part of a series called The Legacy Project, which are included in Baltimore: Open City, an initiative by this year's Exhibition Development Seminar that examines Baltimore's status as an equitable city. He recently won the prestigious SGCI 2011 Undergraduate Fellowship Award-which honors individuals who exhibit outstanding promise in the fine art practice of printmaking--for The Legacy Project, offering him a stipend to continue the project.

In an Urbanite cover story about Gaia's work, Martine Irvine of Irvine Contemporary gallery in Washington, D.C.--which has hosted several exhibitions of Gaia's work--said street art is "about how the work speaks in the living context of the city. As an art form, I think it's one of the most important stories of our times. ... The best of these artists are doing something really important, innovative, and changing the whole visual landscape of cities."

Exhibiting extensively, both in prestigious galleries as well as on the street, the artist has shown work across the country and the world--including in New York; San Francisco; Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles; London; and Seoul, Korea--and has been included in the anthology Beyond the Street: The 100 Leading Figures in Urban Art. Gaia, who works and lives in Brooklyn, New York and Baltimore, will continue to apply for exhibits and create work after Commencement.

Even though Gaia will be graduating this spring, he won't forget about his soon-to-be alma mater anytime in the near future. "It's not really possible for me to imagine my work without the influence of MICA, considering it has been the place that I have formatively grown as an artist," he said.


Gaia, The Legacy Project: James Rouse Side Profile, 2010.


Photo captions (from top down): Rooster Messenger Cradling the Head of John the Baptist; Headshot of Gaia (photo by Marshall Clarke); The Legacy Project: James Rouse Side Profile.

Headshot of Gaia with his face masked to keep his identity unknown (photo by Marshall Clarke).

Senior Wins Esteemed Printmaking Award

Gaia has won SGC International's 2011 Undergraduate Fellowship Award, which honors individuals who exhibit outstanding promise in the fine art practice of printmaking.


For more information about Gaia, read an Urbanite cover story about his work or visit his website.