The Kids’ Eye: An Interview with Drew Leshko

The Kids' Eye Interview with Drew Leshko_HM

The Kids’ Eye is our new series where creative kids interview artists whose work they admire.

We prep — give them tips on proper interviewing etiquette, arm them with a camera and a recorder and then we let them loose.

We’re only there to observe.  The questions are theirs, the interviews haven’t been rewritten to sound like anything other than the probing  journalism of a tween.

Tatianna is 13.  Last summer she stumbled across Philadelphia artist, Drew Leshko’s miniatures at a gallery exhibition.  Her first thought, “Can this really be art?” We assured her it was; she marveled at the possibilities of new mediums she could explore.  Daily Googling marathons turn into allowance fueled trips to craft stores – all efforts to see if she could create her own miniature stories.  When that stopped being enough, we called up Leshko to see if he’d be up for a studio visit.

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Tatianna: So how long does a regular piece take you to do?
Drew Leshko: Well, if we’re talking about buildings, that’s a long process. They take me anywhere from 2 weeks to 3 months, depending on the size of them. If we’re talking about other works, like the dumpsters – those are hard to quantify. They’re my relief when I’m spending two months working on a building, and it’s getting to the point where I want to rip my hair out because I can’t stand looking at them anymore. I take some time off and pull out a little sculpture because I can finish that relatively quickly.

I’ve talked to a lot of different artists and they like to do two pieces at once.
Totally, you have to.

Yeah, it just drives you insane if you don’t.
It keeps you moving at a reasonable rate if you’re trying to be productive, and I am.

Are all your sculptures like…Because I heard you do them from real places. Are they all in Philadelphia?
All the buildings are based on actual buildings in Philadelphia. I start with a photograph that I take and I work to get the main structure of the building. So I’ll get the photograph out and use it to generate all the important parts; like where the beam is, where the awning is going to plug into, where the basement entrance is. After I get the main bones of the building, I put the photograph away. I work off of memory at that point.
A lot of the work has that human element of memory. I’m only trying to make buildings that don’t have that much longer to live because once they’re gone
… They’re gone.

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Did you want to do sculptures of buildings when you first started out as an artist?
No, I made sculptures of water towers — a lot of them. I was making sculptures to become the subjects of photographs I was taking. So, in a gallery setting, there would be both photographs and sculptures.

The idea was to ask the viewer what was going on, essentially — Which came first? Is it a photograph that he’s recreating, or is it a photograph of something that he’s built?

So how did that lead you into buildings?
I moved here (Philadelphia) in 2007 and the environment really informed my work. I think many artists would say that. If you live in the Hudson Valley in Upstate New York, you might be painting trees and fall scenes with the changing leaves.

Yeah… Philadelphia is just full of art. It’s everywhere you look, from graffiti on. Street art is just everywhere.
So, a lot of it came from my environment. A lot of it came from older artwork projects that I admire. Walker Evans, I always speak about him. He was commissioned by President Theodore Roosevelt to document life in the United States after the depression. He went around photographing all these down and out families in the South. He was photographing churches and creating essentially an archive of what was. It’s something real, you and I could go to the Library of Congress now and look at the slides and see portals into life. So, I can’t take photographs, I’m no good at that. I can’t paint…

I think I’m good at a little bit of everything. I can paint really well, I can draw really well, and I can take good photos.
(What you hear now is the ego of a 12-year-old, bearing the confidence that I wish I’d had at that age. Drew is being very patient. Wait, there’s more…)

I think I was born with an artistic side.
You could make a lot of money with those skills.

I think what I was saying; was in the same way that Walker Evans was trying to really capture a feeling and a time period in his project; I’m thinking about my work in the same kind of way.
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Well, if you had to do something different than building your sculptures and your dumpster and your RVs and your water towers, what would you think your options would be?
That’s a tough one.

I am tough – I like it. I want to know everything.
I don’t know if I can answer that. The campers are relatively new for me, I’ve only been working on them for about 2 months. I still have a lot to see through with this project. I plan on having 40 of them.

40? (Astonished)
Not to all be installed at the same place, at the same time.
I’m really interested in artists that pursue serious works, not like an artist that has four paintings and that’s his series – that’s not for me. I want to go over the top until people think it’s totally nuts.

The signs that you put on your buildings, do you copy them and just cut and paste them on?
Some of them I just Google. Most of the time I photograph them on the street, resize them in Photoshop and then I print them out.

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Have you ever thought about teaming up with another artist?
I thought about it, and a lot of people have approached me.

It would be cool if you got that girl who does the Urban Geodes, you know, to put miniature geodes in the bricks of your buildings.
Oh, you mean Paige.
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So what is your favorite piece to create? Is it the buildings, the water towers, the dumpsters or the campers?
I’m really in love with the RV’s right now.

Yeah, they’re neat, I really like them. Have you ever thought about making cars?
I’ve thought about doing some vehicles, but my work is mainly about the temporary relationships we have with things

Like things that aren’t going to be here in 10 or 20 years.
Right. So the buildings…It’s really obvious that they’re not going to be here after a while. For the campers’, maybe the thing that’s not going to be there is their natural environment – like the destinations that you’re traveling to. I think things are shifting in our culture, our ideas about leisure activities.

When I was growing up, my parents had a really crummy Motorhome, and my grandparents had one of these pull behind trailers. We would drive from Baltimore (where I was born) two hours away to the middle of nowhere in Maryland. And we would go to the campgrounds and spend the weekend there. It’s something that I really look back on fondly. It’s a feeling of nostalgia… I think that it’s something people aren’t doing anymore for whatever reason. There’s definitely a new resurgence of camping. There are designer camping shops popping up, but still as a culture, I think something has shifted. I don’t know if I’m right, but it’s something that I’ve been thinking about while doing this work.
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Is it hard working at home? You have a TV down here and the studio space is next to the kitchen – do you get distracted? Do you have any hobbies?
I like to ride bikes but haven’t been able to get around doing that lately.

Anything else? Like learning a new language? You should learn a new language because you’ll need it to open new doors.
You’re right. I should learn German – I’m showing a piece in Berlin soon.

I’m going to learn French. And then I’ll take a trip to Paris.

 

Leskho’s current exhibition Home Is Where Your Park It opens February 26, 2016

Opening Reception
Friday, February 26th • 5:30pm – 10:00pm

Closing Reception
Friday, March 25th • 5:30pm – 10:00pm

Exhibition Hours
Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays • 12:00pm – 6:00pm
And 7 days a week by appointment: info@paradigm-gallery.com / (267)266-0073

Location
Paradigm Gallery + Studio / 746 S. 4th Street, 1st Floor / Philadelphia, PA 19147

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Caitlin McCormack Stitches Together Memory In Her Solo Show MNEMOSYNE

Title Card for Mnemosyne

MNEMOSYNE – Mne·mos·y·ne \ni-ˈmä-sə-nē, -zə-\- memory

A memory is what is left when something happens and does not completely unhappen. -Edward de Bono

In a room of silent things, everything whispers as Philadelphia artist, Caitlin McCormack’s solo show Mnemosyne explores the mind’s attempt to reconstruct fragile remnants of memories before they are tainted.

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McCormack sets the tone of the show with various cabinets of curiosities – drawers open to reveal slumbering stitches arranged in categorical boundaries yet to be defined, beveled shadow frames.  Within this realm, McCormack marries found threads to existing pieces, embracing the melancholy of time overlapping memory in her delicate play of intersecting loops. In the crocheted bones of her discordant creations, lay manifestations of resurrected truths and birthed falsehoods; a balance of beguiling recollections arranged in unnatural juxtapositions.

MNEMOSYNE’s sense of fragility underscores a precious attempt to preserve that which has fallen into Obscura – to present a persistence of memory, as new life is stitched together in the parameters of anamnesis where memories live as beautiful fabrications that belie a beginning and beg off an end. There exists a haunting calm within the delicate wisps trying desperately to be more than retired graces of things they never were. ‡

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Menmosyne skeleton

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“It is the second installment in a cycle of exhibitions; an examination of the consequences of my practices, as they pertain to the scrutiny of memory’s authenticity. I am drawn towards a vacuous well of recollection, in which the fibers connecting a network of truths and fabrications fade in and out of darkness, at the bottom of which resides a glimpse of memory’s mass extinction.” – Caitlin McCormack

‡version of this article was originally featured on ParadigmArts.

Mnemosyne is up at Paradigm Gallery until Friday, November 13, 2015.

*Photos courtesy of Jason Chen

‘Intersections’ with Joe Boruchow & Kid Hazo @ Paradigm Gallery

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Checking out Joe Boruchow at Intersections.

Checking out Joe Boruchow at Intersections

INTERSECTIONS brings two of Philadelphia’s well-known and loved “street artists”, Kid Hazo (pronounced has•ohh) and Joe Boruchow, to the same room.  Both artists almost solely install their works in the city of Philadelphia cementing themselves as artists who embody the vibe of our city.

Their work catches your attention and drives conversation… Though their approach to the creation and the life of their works couldn’t differ more, their poignant intersecting in this show brings the evolutionary chain of street art full circle: from the urban to the fine art.

Paperclips215 on her Social Media grind / photo by Kendall Whitehouse

Paperclips215 on her Social Media grind / photo by Kendall Whitehouse

Joe Burochow’s work is often punctuated with words you don’t necessarily associate with street art: poignant and elegant.

He gives his intricate paper cutouts a life outside their custom frames, reproducing them as wheat pastes, integrating his pattern play of stories into the city’s architecture.

Hazo’s belief that art is for everyone punctuates our daily interactions with his light-hearted – one step ahead of you – clever pieces that parody the heart of Philly culture. It reminds us not to take life too seriously (and maybe to stick to just one selfie per day if we can).

The point where one crosses the other plays out on the streets where the impact of their work lies with the beholder who might just want to hold on to that feeling a bit longer.

'Unemployed' Kid Hazo / photo by Kendall Whitehouse

‘Unemployed’ Kid Hazo / photo by Kendall Whitehouse

'Exit Stage Left' / Kid Hazo

‘Exit Stage Left’ / Kid Hazo

 

*review seen first at Paradigmarts.org

 

 

 

 

IT HAPPENED THIS SUMMER ON SOUTH STREET…

Artist Sophie Roach with her box at 2nd & South.

HAHA MAG isn’t simply a virtual resource for art, we jump into the ring and spread great art throughout our community. Our side project, HAHA x PARADIGM works with street artists that have an active role in giving back through urban beautification.

This summer with the help of South Street Headhouse District and our amazing roster of artists we were able to turn these bland, filthy electrical boxes along the popular stretch in Philly known as South Street into colorful mini murals.

Following Artists are featured: Sophie RoachSean TalaminiNDAClint Tillman ReidJason Andrew TurnerNate HarrisMiriam Singer, and Sean 9 Lugo.

For more pics and behind the scenes action go to HAHAxPARADIGM.ORG

You can take a tour of this project with awesome crowd pics using the hashtag #hahaxpara on Instagram.

Sean Talamini paints his box on 5th & South

Sean Talamini paints his box on 5th and South

Artist: Sean Talamini

Artist: Sean Talamini

Artist Sophie Roach with her box at 2nd & South.

Artist Sophie Roach with her box at 2nd & South.

Artist: Sophie Roach

Artist: Sophie Roach

Clint Tillman Reid working at 7th and South

Clint Tillman Reid working at 7th and South

Artist: Clint Tillman Reid

Artist: Clint Tillman Reid

Nate Harris working on his 4th and South box.

Nate Harris working on his 4th and South box

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Artist: Nate Harris

Sean 9 Lugo getting down on his 7th and South box

Sean9Lugo getting down on his 7th and South box

Artist: Sean9Lugo

Artist: Sean9Lugo

Miriam Singer_HAHAMAG

Artist: Miriam Singer

Jason Andrew Turner at 2nd & South

Jason Andrew Turner at 2nd & South

Artist: Jason Andrew Turner

Artist: Jason Andrew Turner

NDA whipping up some magic at 6th & South

NDA whipping up some magic at 6th & South

Artist: NDA

Artist: NDA

For more pics and behind the scenes action go to HAHAxPARADIGM.ORG

You can take a tour of this project with awesome crowd pics using the hashtag #hahaxpara on Instagram.

Top 5 Art Shows of 2014

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There was no polling of art aficionados, no pouring over magazines or newspaper reviews, and there’s definitely no big ballin’ art plays for likability listed below.  These shows made the list because I visited them more than once (that rarely ever happens) or my sensibilities were totally confounded by the creativity.  Shows that make that kind of impression can provide a year’s worth of conversational tidbits and a measure to which you might hold all others.  Aw, enough with that…these shows rocked my 2014.

Spring Break Art Show

It’s fun, fresh, and daring like newly graduated art school minds before they get crushed and compromised. This curator driven show, gets set up in an old schoolhouse during Armory Arts Week in New York. Yes, we know it’s technically an art fair. But the 2014 show, PublicPrivate won us over with installations that we talked up all-year-long.

Kara Walker: A Subtlety or the Marvelous Sugar Baby

Kara Walker’s Installation at the Domino Sugar Factory in Brooklyn was a “homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World on the Occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant.” The exhibit was mind-blowing – from the overwhelmingly beautiful conceptual execution of the sugar-coated sphinx-like woman, to the very unexpected nauseating smell of burnt sugar permeating the hot factory.

A photo posted by @hahamag on

Swoon: Submerged Motherlands

Swoon’s intricate wheat-paste portraits normally grace New York buildings, but for Motherlands she went large-scale, telling landscaped stories against a backdrop of dramatically blue washed walls in the Brooklyn Museum rotunda. The star of the show was the massive sculptural tree that nearly kissed the rotunda’s 72 foot high glass domed ceiling.

David Lynch: The Unified Field

Lynch’s grime aesthetics found solace at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia (PAFA), where he studied as an advanced painting student in 1967. The exhibit explored Lynch’s hybrid collection of works, displaying a delicate balance from disturbing narratives to richly descriptive lithographs. Unified Field is his world of opposites that he wanders in and out of at will.

Interhaven: The Works of Caitlin McCormack

McCormack’s sorted things in shadowboxes lay posed and gracefully still as if they once knew air – their layers of articulated overlapping crocheted beige string bones resembled the things they never were. The show’s curio layout carried a pleasantly haunting tone, but it was the lingering of McCormack’s stored memories seen through these tangible manifestations of contained dreams and nightmares that left me feeling domed under her bell jars.

*thank you to paperclips215 & Paradigm Gallery for the use of their Instagram Photos

HAHA X PARADIGM BRINGS IN ARTISTS TO CREATE NEW MURALS IN QUEEN VILLAGE

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Philly got three new art installations over Labor Day weekend.

My Dog Sighs, Calo Buscanigua and Kelly Kozma dropped some amazing work between 3rd and 5th on Bainbridge in the Queen Village section of Philadelphia.  The 3 artists beautifully rehabbed three neglected junction boxes as part of a community beautification project with HAHA x Paradigm in collaboration with the Queen Village Neighborhood Association.

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UK artist My Dog Sighs left his trademark haunting eyes and water droplets.

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Fun Fact: The lyrics to UB40’s song ‘One in Ten’ are painted around My Dog’s box as a thoughtful observation on the homeless that often sat on benches near his box in the evenings.

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My Dog Sighs paints a Philly skyline reflection.

Calo Buscanigua shared some cherished images from his hometown in El Salvador.

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These beautiful colors are a homage to the vibrancy of the shantytowns in El Salvador.

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Kelly Kozma showed her burgeoning love of street art with a cute quirky take on yarnbombing.

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UK Street Artist My Dog Sighs Is Coming To Philly

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We’re excited to announce that our new HAHAxParadigm artist in residence is none other than, acclaimed UK street artist, My Dog Sighs.

His unconventional Houdini act of crushing lifeless cans and then transforming them into stunning and often funny portraitures first caught our attention.  These painted faces with haunting eyes full of lifelike emotions do not typically sit on walls like other installs but rather on the ground waiting for attention. They’ve become his trademark, garnering him a loyal worldwide fan base and international success on the contemporary art scene.

MDS is also known to many for his championing of public art as the founder of Free Art Friday, a non-profit project that allows artists the liberty to create work free from the constraints of commerce. Artists create special pieces that get placed outside in random locations to be discovered and taken home. It’s the exhilarating aspect of an unexpected approach to a random walk in your neighborhood that has pushed the growth of his 10 year devotion project on to other cities.

This August he will bring his Free Art Friday project to Philadelphia – the project is meant to unite the artist community in a common goal, so we encourage all who’d like to participate in the project to do so.  If you spot any MDS pieces around Philly next week, make sure to use the hashtags: #phillyfreeartfriday #hahaxpara so everyone can play along.

While he is in Philly, MDS has promised to leave a wide range of his work in our hometown before heading to Chicago for his next project in the states.  On Saturday, August 30th, come out and watch My Dog SighsCalo Buscante and Kelly Kozma paint together for a special community project in the Queens Village area.  Afterwards, we invite you to join us back at Paradigm Gallery + Studio at 5pm for a fun panel discussion moderated by Streets Dept, along with our special panel guest Robert Perry from the Philly Street Art Mecca, Tattooed Mom.

The panel discussion is free, but please click below to reserve your ticket so we can estimate how much space we need.

Can’t make it to the event?

Watch the livestream on Ustream.tv/channel/haha-mag. Livestream starts at 5pm EST on August 20th, 2014.

 

Facebook event 

Get your free ticket for our panel discussion here.

 

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X-O BRINGS HIS LOST OBJECTS TO PHILLY

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X-O just left Philly, but left behind one of his Lost Objects pieces. His artwork is made of found, recycled objects, which he gathers while roaming streets and then transforms them into these striking, geometric assemblages.

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This past week, HAHA MAG & Paradigm Gallery + Studio had the pleasure of hosting two great artists X-O aka. @ihyland and Amanda Marie aka. @seeyouthroughit who’ve been touring around leaving behind beautiful art installations at every tour leg for a two great causes. We’ve had a blast seeing it all come together and are so happy that they included us as part of their Philadelphia journey.

This is a really beautiful way to raise awareness for their Indiegogo campaign – more information at BeautifulTimes.net and follow full coverage of their travels at bkstreetart.

Lauren Rinaldi: At Arm’s Length

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At Arm’s Length is where most of us keep the true estimation of ourselves. Lauren Rinaldi explores all this and takes a good look at body image, sexuality and self-identity using unbiased self-portraits that chronicle her life through the changes in her body and mental state. She explores our seemingly embraced imperfections – using layers to thinly veil what she consciously chooses to hold back – projecting an identity with the allure of control all the while revealing to the viewer the truths we unwittingly hide from ourselves. The show surprises in its’ subtly – shifting focus, from what we hide to what we show. Her series of whimsical sketches find a connection in the new language we’ve patterned off our need to flaunt the personal assessment of our bodies within the realm of our day-to-day digital landscapes.

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“How you see yourself and what you choose to show the world are two completely different things,” Rinaldi says. She has indeed found complimenting mediums to observe the nature of women seeking affirmation under the guise of anonymity.

At Arm’s Length is on view now at Paradigm Gallery + Studio until August 9th, 2014.

Find the artist on Instagram:
@laurinaldi @paradigmgs
#LaurenRinaldi #AtArmsLength

SELFIES ARE THE GOLDEN TICKET IN PHILLY’S WEEK LONG STREET ART SCAVENGER HUNT

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Philly Tech Week  2014 is hosting something new this year, a citywide street art scavenger hunt.

The scavenger hunt, organized by community arts supporters, Tattooed Mom, Philly Tech Week and HAHA x Paradigm is designed to spotlight Philadelphia street artists, their work, and the neighborhoods that inspire them. So far, the lineup has included artists:  Joe BoruchowKid Hazo (work pictured below), HurrayForBraille Street ArtBobWillReign and Scrandy.

Daily clues to the stashed artwork locations get released at midnight.  Each day is a fresh hunt, a new artist, and a new winner. Hunters must take selfies with the art and share them via Twitter or Instagram using the scavenger hashtags for a chance to win an exclusive piece of art

Dedication is the key for participating art lovers – daily selfies are entries counted toward your chance of winning special prizes awarded to participants who find the most art at the end of Tech Week.

The scavenger hunt began on April 4th, 2014 and will continue until Philly Tech Week commences on April 12th, 2014.

Can’t join in the fun? You can watch it evolve using hashtags #ptw14 & #hahaxpara.

Check out HAHAxPara on Twitter or on their website for more information.

*story ran first in artnerdnewyork

SUMMAIYA JILLANI: FROM PAKISTAN TO PHILADELPHIA

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During the month of December, Pakistani Artist, Summayya Jillani collaborated with HAHAxParadigm to bring her works, rich in color and culture, outside of a gallery setting for the first time. Jillani’s work often carries a whimsical Eastern retelling of the influence of western pop culture. Like her famous painting of Marilyn dressed in classic Pakistani attire (Baar baar dekho, hazaar baar dekho).

HAHA sat down with Visual Artist, Summayya Jillani to discuss her views on community art and to figure out how street art is received in Pakistan.

HM: We’re excited that you’re going to participate in some street art with us before you fly back home. Being that street art is basically an umbrella term for most visual art displayed in public locations, what type of reaction does it receive back home in Karachi? Are there any major differences than the affects you see it have here in the U.S.?

SJ: I think there might be quite a big difference between the reactions we get from people here in the US and what we would get as a reaction on serious street-art back in Pakistan. I’ve been here for more than a month now and I have wandered about in many different neighborhoods of different cities here, which include some very arty areas with a lot of devised street art. People from Karachi would definitely admire it more than any American citizen because they’re not used to seeing such kind of strenuously executed works on the walls of their own city. What I mean is, it is an everyday thing here, while it is still a very big deal, a rarity in Pakistan to see public art. We too have a lot of things happening on our walls but it’s mostly highly provocative stuff like political or religious slogans and people don’t consider it arty.

HM: What would you like to take away from this project or convey to U.S. viewers with it?

SJ: Coming from a country like Pakistan, which we all know doesn’t have a very nice impression on the rest of the world due to its helter-skelter status quo; I have always tried to make a point that nothing in this world is completely bad or good. It’s always in the hands of someone or the other to bring out either a true or an exaggerated image of a place or just anything. I know my country is going through its worst phases but there is always some good in everything. Same is the case with Pakistan, it’s youth despite all the difficulties it has to face every other day, is vibrant, positive and very constructive. They’re hard to demotivate. They like to listen to/make good music, go to cinema, hang out with friends, do all the young things that people their age do in other prosperous countries without much fear. They have dreams and ambitions. They like to make friends across the borders, they’re not hostile in nature at all and they’re always trying very hard to steer up the image of their nation. Through any work that I have done in past or will be doing in future, my intension remains the same, that is to make people see beyond the extreme political or religious sturm and drang going on in Pakistan most of the time. There is a lot of taste, liveliness and love for fun in people’s hearts over there. There is a lot of good co-existing with the bad, but sadly it goes undetected most of the time.

HM: Lastly, what are your thoughts on community art/public art/street art?

SJ: I personally love public art more than any other type of art. My reasons are simple because that way it doesn’t remain exclusive, which I believe is not the actual purpose of art or any other mode of expression. It is meant to be seen and spread as much as it may. Another reason is that I have always enjoyed being surrounded by immense in size imageries. It makes my every-day life experiences a bit more interesting I feel.

Keep an eye out for Jillani’s addition to the vibrancy of Philadelphia’s streets this month. If you’re in Philly, you can check her ‘Pakistani Marilyn’ out at 2nd Street in Old City. HAHA x PARADIGM’s first collaboration was with LA-based artist, Paige Smith (aka a Common Name) who bought her Urban Geodes project to Philly this past October

Hilary White’s ‘The Endless One’

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It’s been awhile since Hilary White had a proper exhibition and now she’s back stronger than ever with a new solo show ‘The Endless One’. Most of White’s pieces combine intricate wood working with brightly colored acrylics. Though its the large scale size of her works and the unique way she infuses science, faith and imaginings into her pieces that truly make them gems.

Opening night of the show was a blast and I thought I’d give you guys a sneak peek. This however should not deter you from running down to Paradigm Gallery and seeing the show in person if your in Philly.

The Endless One will be at Paradigm Gallery & Studio (803 S. 4th Street) until June 21, 2013.

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