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  • Amy Young with Students of City College

Graff101: Food Baby Soul

On a chilly Thursday night, November 21, we met fabric street artist @FoodBabySoul in Bedford-Stuyvesant at a new work from her "shroud" series - grisaille knit covering an earlier colorful work meant to be painted and cut in upcoming iterations and at a 25-foot work from her "sweat" series, titled because we are "sweating ourselves to death with fabric trash." She explained always uses recycled cloth with the help of Annie Keating @Ann_with_an_ie the Community Coordinator from @fab_scrap who was also there to discuss #upcycling #downcycling. As we finished the visit, FBS said, "Every time you post or put up a work of art it hits your passersby," which was reflected by one of her neighbors who strode by and said, "Thanks for what you do." Yes, and thank you so much for talking to us!

This is what my students had to say about the visit.

- Amy L. Young


Annabell: Our class meeting with the artist was a different experience for me. I had never actually seen or knew about yarn bombing until taking this class. Her initiative in South Africa and other travel stories were intriguing in how her work has made varying impacts in different communities; through her simply teaching them about art or decorating their neighborhoods with it. I did walk away appreciating knitting and sewing as a more versatile art form than I never really acknowledged it to be prior to this trip.

Adina: The visit with FBS was magical, as she transformed the sidewalk experience by “dressing” the wire fences with beautifully sewn pieces, which she hangs, stretches and sews onto the fence, and are interactive as people touch and draw on them, and with the environment, as the sunlight creates interesting shadows of the piece and weathering evolves the work. The artist labels herself as a “domestic street artist” as her choice of material to “bomb the streets” is fabric purchased Fab Scrap and she challenges artists to use more sustainable, bio-degradable and earth-friendly materials, as she is very planet-conscience. She told us that people asked her “why do the fences need to be warm?” to which she replied, “Because our planet is overheating!”

Andre: What impressed me about her is how down to earth she is as a person and while she was talking, she was telling us how she wants to inspire the next generation of people to help them chase their dreams and be the person that they want to be. She’s been doing street art for a few years and while she was talking she was telling us aspiring artists to be good at your craft and what you do. While I feel her work is a weird approach, an out of the box kind of thing she makes it work for her. She's finding success in it and I can say that she’s the first person that I’ve ever heard of using trash and putting it in their artwork.

Yuri: Food Baby Soul says she likes to work by herself, but despite this her work is more collaborative than it may seem - she asks permission from the building owners who take a petition to see if people living there would mind it, she pays anyone who helps with the installation or maintenance - a homeless person to keep the sidewalk clear of trash as well people who help put up her pieces and her driver. She only uses scraps from pre consumer recycling diverting them from landfill or being incinerated. For every 100 pounds of fabric the environmental equivalence is 10 trees being planted. Even further than that she does not throw out any of her pieces, she adds on to them, mends them and recycles them prolonging their longevity and increasing the places they have been installed, traveling with them each time she moves.

Imerald: FBS also gave some good insight when it came to artists trying to become recognized through social media. I remember her saying that she was more successful at being recognized doing work on the streets, rather than posting her work on social media. Her statement caught my attention, as I am aware that a lot of artists are using social media as their platform to build their career, while FBS decided to stick with the old school method for getting recognition of her work. To me, this could be a positive message for upcoming artist who only show their work through social media meaning that artists shouldn’t be afraid to put their work out there for the public.

Tiffiney: The artist defined her work as “An obtrusion of beauty,” a beauty that commands your attention as you pass by. She masked the derelict conditions of the physical space and adds beauty to mental space. She spoke about when producing art the artist should look at how the art affects the environment. Art represents the people and its environment, and she said that, “art is a manifestation." Art manifests itself in many ways; the viewer has the opportunity to interpret this manifestation in his or her own way. The cooperate world has put a categorizing system, according to FBS, “art should be free." Art should not be confined to a building for only a selected few to see.

Daisey: Meeting and talking to Food Baby Soul last week was amazing. She was noble and in a way gave super “hippie” vibes. When she talked to us about how she reuses her fabric it was mind blowing to hear. To know that she’s been doing this yarn bombing for so long and still to this date has not thrown away a single fabric she has ever used, she somehow manages to find new purpose or ideas for it. It’s amazing how she gets left over fabric from the fashion industry and up-cycles it by creating a whole art piece with it that can bring such positive affect in the people in the neighborhood whenever they walk by it.

Anastasia: Instead of poisoning our landfills and ecosystem by fast fashion clothes, she uses these scraps to create large-scale patterns which adds a special something to the area. She is challenging those artists who work in similar style but doesn’t really care about materials and how it was made. She is challenging this question of what you buy and what you use for your art, not thinking about the profit but all the positive aspects she can bring to the world with her art and thoughts about ecology. I also was inspired by her speech about free art. Free art is beautiful and great, and she had a chance between making expensive art pieces or free art to enjoy for community, luckily, she chose second option, and I hope in the future she will continue making art on the streets.

Natasha: Having the pleasure to visit FBS in their environment was such an eye opener to something new. I was exposed to a new realm of art that I didn’t think was art. I learned so much from hearing them speak and watching them in their own space as they were so comfortable and so intriguing with many their personal anecdotes and opinions, not just opinions on what is art but what could be art. They curved what could be and couldn’t be art by engaging in recyclable art. I appreciate and look up to artists that create art by using everything that’s not in a regular art store. In other words, creating art using recyclable items is such an amazing process and hearing her explain how theses items can interfere into different path is just as interesting. It is mind-blowing how art can be environmentally friendly instead of made of expensive art materials.

Dimitri: FBS is an interesting artist with a lot of skill to pull off the large-scale pieces that she creates. I’d consider her an artist that puts work in the street more than a street artist. I found her idea of her Instagram being her work as an interesting viewpoint. The story forms as people share and follow the work.

Ariela: FBS, a textile artist who has lived all over the world but currently resides in New York City, wasn’t exactly what I expected -- she had a lot of energy and was really passionate about her work and mission to the point where she would often forget the questions we asked her while in the process of answering them. One thing I enjoyed about the visit was how she emphasized how important it was to her to reuse and remake her artwork into new artwork.

Kiara: FBS said, “Your intention and your impact is very important to understand the difference of what you are hoping people get out of it and what people actually do come at you with it.” Being an artist and having a meaningful purpose is not easy. Art could be anything and FBS is the definition of turning anything into art. It was really neat to learn about up-cycling and down-cycling and becoming familiarized with these concepts really helped me understand her purpose. She said, “I am trying to challenge what you buy and what you use. Look for alternative things to make in your art that is planet friendly, if you can.” Her intricate yarn-bombing work is beautiful, but what makes it more unique is that her resources have a backstory.

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