There is a tree that grows in Brooklyn in front of Clever Blend, a coffee shop in Park Slope, but it's not just any tree. Hugged by a hand sewn collage made up of different layers and meanings, the tree is wrapped up like a gift. On it, says: #ListentoBlackCoffee, which references a South African DJ, a SA fashion designer label, and, well...black coffee. Last Friday, the previous piece was removed and the artist planted a brand new street art "seed." Many people who have impacted its creator met under the magical art tree that day; the owner of the coffee shop, Nadia, the street custodian, Michael, who watches over it like a guardian angel, neighbors who loved the details stopped to chat, the building's owner came to say thank you, and a beautiful soul, randomly walking by, started singing for us, "Garden of Eden," a song by Black Coffee. This was one of those surreal "NY" moments where, you just had to be there to believe it. The wonderful lives we weave and making connections because of a cleverly blended creation by Food Baby Soul.
#LISTENTOBLACKCOFFEE @foodbabysoul at Clever Blend, Park Slope
In Bushwick, Bed Stuy, and Harlem, you may have seen Food Baby Soul's thoughtfully worked together panels of scrap fabric protectively covering poles and trees thriving among other street art. Graffiti writers have "Throw-Ups," and this "Domestic Graffiti" artist, has "Sew-Ups," made of repurposed material that are handmade and come together like a multi-layered collage. Along with floral designs and patterns, the patchwork pieces have messages that make you think, some are funny, interactive, and also feature African imagery and proverbs that are enlightening and inspiring.
FBS, also a conceptual artist, makes public art that pops up in unorthodox places. She composes many techniques together and is learning how to install her creations publicly as she goes along. Her style is relatable to the every day person and she considers herself a #DomesticGraffitiArtist because she makes everything out of her home on kitchen counters and has been for years. She is a Mom and trailing wife, has traveled all over the world, lived in South Africa, and currently lives in Brooklyn. She doesn't considers herself a textile artist, but rather a street artist because the work is made for public consumption.
"Right now, I classify myself as a street artist illustrating ideas and experiences using domestic crafting techniques." said, Food Baby Soul.
Food. Baby. Soul.
Three words that change with meaning while mended together. Below the artist breaks down the name and what it means to her. What feeds her soul? What feeds your soul?
Food - "The feed is part of cyber lingo. You (we all) are being nourished by social media."
Baby - "...is my daughter. When people call me 'Food,' my daughter could be 'Baby Food'...Food Baby Soul, is an account to feed her soul over time. It's an influencer account for my child."
Soul - "Soul is Soul...Soul Food, Soul Music. It is associated with richness in heart, mind, religion, culture and, even emancipation from being oppressed. The gut feeling is our sixth sense. I got a big Foodbaby...soul. My gut feeling drives me, in my moral compass."
Wrappers Delight: One of the first piece's that introduced us to FBS was "99 Problems, but a 'stitch' ain't one." wrapped around a pole at the corner of Jefferson St. and St. Nicholas Ave. playing off of Jay-Z's "99 Problems..."
"I think the work has to live and breath on its own. Depending on the area, it changes the surface completely by its nature of being soft and revealing surface texture...If one adds words, images, or appliqués, then you start to build a different kind of message. I think the work looks great in a big mixture of urban art forms." said, Food Baby Soul.
IF you think you're too small to make a difference THEN you've never spent the night with a MOSQUITO - African Proverb
#ScrapImpact and Textile Messaging with Proverbs
Food Baby Soul makes her creations from South African designer donations of textile waste. "Scrap Impact is a big subject...How many people can one donation of art materials impact? What is that impact? How far can that impact travel? Who does it impact the most and why?" said, Food Baby Soul. It's about sustainability. When FBS puts up a new piece of street art, she removes the previous one, cleans, reuses, and builds upon them, giving them a new life and purpose.
The African Proverbs found on the work, are attributed to her textile silkscreen teacher, Yda Walt, who gave her a huge collection of fabric scraps from her studio. "I have shared the work, kept track of who has benefited, and how far the work has traveled to illustrate how one person's generosity can impact a greater community. I want to celebrate that and be respectful to the intellectual property I was using." said, Food Baby Soul. "Craft is very much a communal and economic source for local people."
"The Proverbs to me are super intellectual and important information about African thought and life lessons being universal. A lot of African Americans unless taught by family don't learn about African culture at school. I love these Proverbs as overt African literature and history for the streets for young African Americans looking for culture from a continent their ancestors come from. And the simplest way to do this was to put it on the streets."
"I started the Scrap Impact to prove a point about volunteering and handout. Rich to poor. I wanted to illustrate that by taking the "garbage" I received (Proverbs, etc.) and putting them out into the world randomly, the results are pretty amazing thus far." said, Food Baby Soul
"Do not speak of a rhinoceros if there is no tree nearby." - African Proverb
"The fabric come from all over, Finland, New York, South Africa, Alaska, if the fabric wasn't sourced from a scrap resource from these places then the pieces have hung internationally and come together as one. It's like immigrant art or an expatriate life, regardless it is nomadic, it moves and changes and develops." said, FBS
Knitty Griddy City
Fence Art and NY streets as a Grid
While talking with Food Baby Soul, a noteworthy topic that often came up was Fence Art. FBS's work, another interactive piece, can be seen on a fence in Brooklyn, it says, "All the World's a Selfie Stage". Walls are not your only option as a creative outlet if you are a street artist. There are many who use fences either as a canvas or to display their work. Fences are like grids where every gap or opening is like a pixel. Grids have been used by artists for centuries to get correct proportions and when painting murals, the grid method is used because it is the easiest way to enlarge an image for scale.
"The grid itself is the weave in every textile canvas one stitches upon or into to create pixels... it also is the frame work many great murals have been built upon. "Weaving is writing, stitching as paint and so on, there are grids as city streets, the grid is often what we want to escape as in "Off the Grid," but it is in fact the fabric of our lives.” said, FBS.
Another great example of fence art as grid is Norman Kirby's, woven works made with ribbon in Jersey City, click here.
FBS on Classon Ave. 'All the World's a 'Selfie' Stage'
"It is music and dancing that make me at peace with the world." -- Nelson Mandela
All Sewn Up
Food Baby Soul, as she says, "is the kitchen sink." The work is made up of many different parts, from all over the world, that come together to form one unified piece. Her work evokes positive emotions, is motivating and brings new messages and energy to the streets. She places patches that asks viewers to "touch" and "feel" as if, as soon as you place your hands on her work, it activates the piece. The beauty of putting works up publicly is that they can be consumed by all, especially in such a melting pot like NYC.
Many people walked by that tree in Park Slope and it made them stop, smile, and express thanks. FBS said, "I think a person's life can be summed up in one word. Mine would be 'lucky'. You saw how incredibly unplanned that scene was at Clever Blend. My whole life is like that. I think I am so generous with helping and uber thankful because I feel so privileged to have had the luck." That gratitude came full circle that day as a community bonded, forever woven together by this shared experience under a "lucky" art tree growing and "sewing" in Brooklyn.
"Kindness is a language, which the blind can see and the deaf can hear." - African Proverb