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” by The New York Times, street artist Gaia '11 (interdisciplinary sculpture) has proved that 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 has 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 were included in Baltimore: Open City, an initiative by the Exhibition Development Seminar that examined Baltimore’s status as an equitable city. He also had 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, which had offered 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, DC; 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, has continued to apply for exhibits and create work.
Even though Gaia had graduated last spring, he hasn’t forgotten about his alma mater. “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.