The Unexpected started as a mural festival -- making Fort Smith an unexpected city of murals. Now in its seventh year, it returns to the River Valley -- and to its roots of immersive public art experiences -- July 26-31 with Miami-based artist Hoxxoh.
"Hoxxoh attempts to show us a different way of viewing time through a means of exploring its natural fabric," says Claire Kolberg, director of The Unexpected, which is produced by the nonprofit 64.6 Downtown. "His work brings fluid painterly shapes and patterns embedded in philosophical approach. Through repetitions and analyses, Hoxxoh manages to re-create the characteristic harmony of contingency, revealing the aesthetic qualities of controlled chaos."
Hoxxoh answered these five questions for What's Up! River Valley.
Q. Tell me about where you grew up and what first brought visual art into your sphere of imagination?
A. I grew up in South Florida. I always drew as a kid, but I would have to say it was a combination of my high school art program, supportive parents and graffiti that brought visual art into my sphere. In 1995 my high school allowed me to paint my first and second mural. From here I started to balance my work from the studio to outdoors, and it was a time that was also the start of my relationship with the graffiti crew MSG (Miami Style Graffiti).
Q. What path into art did you take? And how did it turn out different from what you expected?
A. I studied painting and art history in college but then continued to study architecture. I received a five-year professional master's degree, [but] I graduated at the wrong time, so to speak: It was in 2008, in the midst of the subprime crisis when the housing market was crumbling. The plan was to become an architect, but there were no job opportunities. So, I found a job at a sawmill; for a year, I would work during the day, and at night would focus on painting in the back of a friend's tattoo shop and painting walls in the street. From here, I met a lot of artists I admired, and that's when I discovered some pictorial projection techniques I still use today. So I focused my time and energy on becoming an artist.
Q. What brought you to Fort Smith for The Unexpected? And what does your mural look like and mean?
A. I met the good folks of The Unexpected during an installation of a mural in Cincinnati for the AGAR group. We hit it off over an impromptu dinner and drinks at an awesome jazz club. It was a totally "unexpected" invitation, and I'm super honored to be painting in Fort Smith alongside such a roster of other international artists who have painted there before me.
My mural work is technique-driven. The mural is composed of a signal modular mark of a "U" shape, and it is repeated thousands of times to create various patterns. The mark is created by the use of spray paint and (painstaking) freehand while constantly reacting to the wind and textures of the wall. I typically don't title my work, and I like to keep the narrative open for the viewer. My murals are sometimes described as portals, vortexes, fractals, flowers, feathers, etc.
Q. How is the process of creating a mural different from a smaller work of art -- not so much in the physical differences but in the way you think about the process?
A. There are more variables with larger works, but it's mostly just reacting to the physical restraints and challenges such as weather or the viewer's perspective. The way I think about the process of my works is the same from micro to macro, and that is I allow myself to trust the process and try to find order in the chaos.
Q. What's next for you?
A. After this mural, I would like to spend some time in nature and check out the Ozarks. I find it is helpful to the process of my creativity to always reconnect with nature, ground yourself and ultimately find inspiration from the surroundings.
WHEN — July 26-31
WHERE — Hoxxoh’s artwork can be found at 505 Rogers Ave. in downtown Fort Smith
INFO — Email firstname.lastname@example.org
FYI — A map of all The Unexpected’s murals can be found at unexpectedfs.com.