Forgive me if I start sounding a bit like a broken record as I write about the amazing diversity of the art and artists of INFLUX—but it really is striking! In our last post, we looked at a temporary installation that used trash (of all things!) to engage and educate viewers.
In this week’s profile, I’m pleased to bring you an artist who is known all over the world for his dynamic, otherworldly large-scale murals. You can’t miss his INFLUX project at the entrance to the Cultural Corridor—the area between Central and Classical high schools. We hope you’ll check it out!
Artist Profile: Mik Shida
Since 2004, Mik Shida has been making his unique artistic mark on walls all over the world—from London to Łódź, Brisbane to Berlin, Phuket to Providence, and many places in between.
A native of Australia’s Gold Coast region known for its beautiful beaches, Shida came to Providence by way of Vienna to paint a mural for The Avenue’s INFLUX event. “While a big part of INFLUX focused on showcasing local artists, we wanted to springboard off PIAF to highlight some international artists as well,” says Yarrow Thorne, The Avenue’s founder and artistic director.
Yarrow contacted Nick Platzer, founder of INOPERAbLE Gallery in Vienna, Austria—and an RI native and graduate of Classical High School—to curate one of the INFLUX projects. “Because it was Classical High School, I wanted to use an artist that I have a personal connection with,” explains Nick. “I’ve known Mik since he was 16; he had his first exhibition with us [at INOPERAbLE] when he was 18, and personally we’re good friends.”
INFLUX project: Smoke Tower Mural
Shida’s mural on the smoke tower of Classical High School marks the entrance to the Cultural Corridor.
When choosing the site, Nick notes, “The smoke stack is prime real estate. It’s this huge tower that’s gone unnoticed for decades. Now that Shida’s painted it, it’s got these bright colorful images and it’s an icon, a landmark marking the entrance into this neighborhood and giving something to back to the community.”
Shida used a combination of spray paint and acrylic exterior paint as a primer, which he applied with a roller due to the rough texture of the old cement. “I approached each side differently—the front side you see from the road is entirely abstract, and on the back side there’s kind of a figure in it. I tried to make it a bit more bold and I just made it real intense,” he says.
In creating a mural in a school environment, Shida hopes that students as well as the greater community are inspired in some way. “To be inspired or motivated—that’s a big part of what I do,” he says.
For Nick, who had been suspended from Classical when he was in high school for doing graffiti, “it’s pretty ironic now to be invited back to come and be part of painting the school.”
In his role as curator, Nick managed all of the logistics involved in bringing an internationally renowned artist like Mik Shida to Providence. “I knew working at the school was going to be more tricky with so many people involved… there’s principals, students, teachers, school administration…. I knew that Shida’s really open to feedback—and that’s one of the reasons I knew he’d be great for this project,” adds Nick.
A personal approach to creating
For as long as he can remember, Shida wanted to create art. “I would take the train up to Brisbane where I was really going off for graffiti and street art. By the time I got out of high school I was at a point where I didn’t need to get a job because I was already making it as an artist,” he recalls. “So I kind of just got to stay an artist. I’m pretty blessed.”
In discussing his work, Shida notes, “It’s just been an evolution… a lot of abstraction but there is some subject matter there sometimes. Now I’m really starting to do a lot of different things and it’s shifting quickly. I’m just trying to set the precedent that it’s always going to be evolving.”
This project marked Shida’s first visit to Providence, which he really liked, noting its “human scale” and the many beautiful historical buildings. All of us at The Avenue eagerly welcome him back any time!