Interview: FIEST, Black Lives Matter poster artist
Author | groundwork coffee Date | July 29, 2020
If you've been in a Groundwork cafe this week, you may have seen the posters up for the taking. The creation of street artist FIEST, we worked together with Artshare L.A. to create, print, and share these posters free of charge with our customers for use at future demonstrations or in their home or office.
FIEST, is an anonymous street artist and first-generation immigrant, raised in Atlanta. FEIST moved to Los Angeles in 2016 to transition his work from street works to gallery walls. Two themes emerge from FEIST's current work: inequalities and the state of human relationship. Examining and magnifying how humans relate to one another while highlighting the cultural and toxic emotions we develop in the search for love and acceptance. He's recently been working on a piece called “WANTED: Love, Dead or A LIE.” that discusses how relationships are formed and affected by the age of technology and social media clout.
We had the opportunity to ask FIEST about his work, his art journey and the role of art in our current time of social justice activism.
Tell us about your art journey. Do you have preferred mediums or topics?
I started painting in the street. Messages delivered in the public square arrest viewers in a way that can’t be manufactured. But as social and economic conditions have intensified, I’ve also been drawn toward galleries to further my reach. At the moment my works are an observation of human relationships in the age of technology and social media clout. I work with aerosol and acrylic primarily, but also ink, charcoal, and digital mediums.
Tell us about the process of creating these two pieces. What inspired you?
“Black lives matter” is merely a minimum. It indicates people of color feel so stripped of their dignity, they need to protest JUST to maintain the most basic human entitlement – a right to live. A right which each of the names in the second piece have been denied. It's heavy stuff.
What do you hope these particular pieces convey? How do you hope they inspire or impact those viewing and sharing them?
A glimpse into the deep sense of grief and frustration people of color carry everyday surrounding racial injustice. These continual tragic police encounters have been devastatingly traumatic to the psyche of minority communities. What's encouraging is protests have brought out a new allyship that spans across ethnic, political, and socioeconomic lines. But still, too many people view black suffering like a film genre they’re not "particularly" interested in and it's time for a change. I'm adding my voice to the movement.
How have social justice movements impacted you as an artist?
They’ve raised my sense of awareness that everyone has a role. One of mine is to use my work to help carry impactful messages that influence change.
And vice versa, what impact do you feel art has on the Black Lives Matter and other social justice movements?
Art gives the BLM movement impactful visuals that inject hope, portray the gravity of the moment, and distill the message to help people understand the movement. You can scan a crowd and quickly get many aspects of what we’re fighting for.
This partnership was inspired by a desire to support our Groundwork community. What does community mean to you and your work?
Community is essential. Plants have an ecosystem, we have each other. We’re here, to serve, teach, protect, and heal each other. We are fed by our interpersonal relationships and belonging to a community strengthens one and all.
What communities do you feel you’re a part and how they have shaped you?
I belong to two communities that shape me. Firstly, my faith community. Jesus' example of grace, love, patience, and prayer direct me daily. Secondly, the street art community - they challenge and inspire me to enjoy the process and keep pushing my limits.
Are you a coffee drinker? What's your go-to coffee drink?
I get the same thing, every time at my local Groundwork lol. It’s a Honey Almond Milk Latte, 12g of Honey mixed with the espresso shot, hot. Shout-out to all the barista’s who took the time to make it right – off the top, Amy, Erica, Nicole, Emily, Jeff!
How does coffee play a role in your life as an artist?
It’s big part of my day. Just the ritual of it, the smell, and the soothing meditative intake of it. One of my favorite parts of the day.
You can discover more of FIEST's work on his Instagram