My art work is inspired by the many misunderstandings of our society that are too often not openly discussed. I create art as a way to speak on issues that are sensitive and highly misinterpreted. If I had to define my style of work, it would simply be contemporary art with a political/conscious spin; a mixture of day-to-day popular images, colors and text connected to an underlining message or theme. I utilize a mixture of materials but primarily acrylic on canvas along with hand-cut illustration board to deliver a multidimensional aspect to my work. I do this to invoke a sense of not just viewing a flat, painted canvas but more so an independent object in its own space that is there with you (specifically, the item it is depicting). Metallic foil is also a material that can be found in my work; representative of its historical reference to power, elegance and commanding presence.
Within every piece I design, there are repeating titles (i.e. “Koca”) and symbols that in addition to representing the theme at hand, also reference the coca leaf. The use of the coca (or how I spell it, Koca) leaf within my art is largely based on my beliefs that this plant has a relationship to certain class groups in our society. Historically, the coca leaf has been proven to be beneficial to people around the world, yet it is being controlled and eradicated. This is taking place as a result of its chemical makeup – vital for the production of the drug known as cocaine. In other words, because a small fraction of the leaf’s chemical DNA (which is not even close to harmful without human involvement), it is viewed as a problem that can only be solved by force and disregard (in other words, ignorance). This same mentality is applied to issues throughout the world that affect millions. It’s a ‘blame the victim’ mind-state without trying to comprehend why this lifestyle exist in the first place. It is this overwhelming need to control by any means without a complete awareness of its effects on the world that gives me the motivation, enthusiasm and fortitude to speak out on these topics within my art.
The overall goal of my work is to help those that either know very little about, or have a (possibly unknown) bias viewpoint towards a certain subject. Open their perceptions & nurture their understanding. I believe my background in murals/street art gives me a nontraditional way of viewing art and its preconceived limits on subject matter. While touching on a variety of subjects – such as vanity, drugs, political struggle, personal health, greed and sacred geometry– I am able to connect with the masses while illustrating that we all face the same problems. This hopeful realization will not only unite minds but also lead them to question why certain practices exist in the first place. The method to my madness is to grab people’s attention using images that they can recognize, connect with and/0r become visually entertained by. Once this rare opportunity takes place, I have a window of time to convey a message or share a piece of information with the viewer. I am a firm believer in doing everything with a purpose and direction. I hope to spread not only knowledge and awareness, but a much needed compassion and empathy.
I was born Kristoffer W. McAfee into a lower-middle class family in San Diego, California. My mother worked as a nurse and my father was in the U.S. Navy. At a young age, my parents separated and I was moved to Chicago with my mother to live with relatives. Growing up, I lived in many areas of the city’s south side, as well as housing projects in Gary, Indiana. However I was primarily raised in the historic neighborhood of Hyde Park, known for its diversity & wealth. It was this juxtaposition that I witnessed – a clear separation of resources – that I believe gave me a trained eye for unbalanced opportunities. I lived in war zones for certain parts of my life and then around the corner from million dollar homes the next. These obvious differences in lifestyles and living conditions not only gave me a deeper understanding of why people perform ‘negative’ acts, but also why others carry on as if they don’t exist in the first place.
Growing up in the Chicago Public School system, I always had a certain interest in the arts. I was known as ‘the artist’ throughout my school years as a result of always drawing in class and creating large works of art for school projects. However, it wasn’t until high school that I began my life-changing transformation to becoming a publicly known painter. It all started as a love for street art, which I felt was a perfect way to express myself without any limitations. I also saw it as a way to mentally escape from my hardships in life at that time. With the help of those around me, I began to not only paint murals throughout my own school, but also travel from coast to coast painting in underprivileged communities. Most of the inner city projects were grant-funded, and gave me the rare opportunity to share the arts with areas that were deprived of such expression. It was within this time period that I realized the importance of traveling in relation to art. I also came to understand art’s ability to empower those with little hope. Today, I continue this challenge by seeking like-minded individuals to push forward this idea/mentality of changing minds as a by product of creative expression.
C O N T A C T
Kristoffer W. McAfee /email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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