Star Wars Street Art: Free Humanity Talks Barack Obama, Akira Kurosawa and Mr. Brainwash
Jabba the Hutt and Salacious Crumb, stenciled on top a page of the Wall Street Journal with the words "Greed is good." Boba Fett, standing alone with "I'm sorry for the deaths of the innocent but that happens in war." The Millennium Falcon, shooting blood and controlled remotely by a guy labeled "Blackwater."
Nobody around town is doing Star Wars and politics quite like Free Humanity, and each new piece from the local street artist leaves little doubt as to its creator. Eager to learn his Jedi secrets, we originally planned to crash our X-wing starfigher on his boggy planet, but our IT guys suggested we just pick up the phone instead...
Why Star Wars, beside the obvious fact that it's awesome?
It kind of started with the Yoda and the "Wars not make one great," and there's a couple other quotes I did that really didn't get noticed much. The film was adapted from an old Japanese Buddhist film by this director Akira Kurosawa, and this filmmaker was very Buddhist in a lot of his films, with Buddhist concepts and notions, so the whole Force thing is actually a twist on Buddhism for the masses. So that's kind of my thing, and I guess that's why I chose Star Wars. It's something that's kind of cool and aesthetically pleasing but can also get a spiritual and political point across.
Other people do Star Wars stuff, but I like the politics.
Nobody's done politically affiliated Star Wars street art. I've definitely been the first to start this series. But I also have a ton of different works. Literally, I come up with a new piece every single day. I have a few different series that I'm going to be getting ready for my solo show in a couple months.
What's the show?
It's sponsored by this audio company called Klipsch Audio. It's going to be a 3,000 square foot thing. Probably the biggest show, I'm hoping, since Brainwash's show. It's gonna be huge.
Who's the woman behind the veil? That's your logo, right?
The original drawing comes from a photo I took of my girlfriend at the time, and she was Persian. That's kind of the reason this whole thing started, that poster. And then I came up with three other posters that same day. I came up with Chebama that day and rifled out a couple other ideas. Then I hand-painted and it pretty much just became my universal call to free humanity.
Can you talk a little bit more about that? What do you mean by Free Humanity?
People constantly speak of freeing Tibet, or freeing Iran. But we all suffer these same afflictions. We all suffer from the one percent who holds all the wealth, and we're all part of the working class. We as human beings have to come together and unite. It's not about countries and races, it's about humans, and I think the whole human factor has been taken out of every single equation. I think there's a lot of suffering in the world because of that, and I think we can do a lot to alleviate that suffering if we're aware of that.
How long have you been making street art?
I started the Free Humanity campaign about two years ago.
You mentioned Mr. Brainwash. Is he an inspiration to you?
Brainwash's "Life Is Beautiful" series inspired me a lot, but I'm also very aware that it's derivative of the artist Rene Gagnon. It was literally almost directly stolen from him. But I still appreciate the changes Brainwash made, and I still find it very inspiring. I find not so much street art inspiring as I find real art inspiring. I don't really do too many street art shows. I go to MOCA, LACMA and the Hammer a lot.
Do you screen-print the works yourself?
Everything I have is an actual stencil or a hand-painted piece I put on the street. Each one of those takes me two or three hours to hand-paint. I work for about two or three weeks straight, ten hours a day, just hand-painting, to get ready to go out on the streets for two days. Each single one of my pieces is a one-of-a-kind, hand-painted piece. Probably when I'm older they're going to be worth ridiculous amounts of money. I work really hard to bring something beautiful to the streets, something beautiful to people who ride the bus and are fucking broke and don't get to see art.
See more posters at "Star Wars Street Art: The Works of Free Humanity."
Get the Theater
Your weekly guide to local culture with calendar listings and theater, dance, and comedy reviews.