I completed my largest solo mural to date! The painting is about 50ft. tall and 14ft wide. It's on the side of the building housing the NAIA headquarters on 12th and Grand Blvd. in downtown Kansas City, Missouri. This project was made possible by the Art in the Loop foundation and their initiative to connect artists and businesses for the advancement of art in the public space.
The mural took about 15hrs and 25 cans of spray paint and a roll of masking tape to complete over 3 sunny September days.
I got some interesting feedback and of course a lot of questions about what's up with this bleeding zebra! Here is the concept behind the Angry Zebra Chess piece:
The scowling zebra head chess piece is a signature element of my artistic language. The icon has been popping up, in different colors, sizes and positions- with varying intensities of angry scowl - for the past decade on t-shirts, posters, murals and almost everything else I design.
Although sometimes used playfully, the Angry Zebra is a serious symbol. The Angry Zebra is me – and every other bi-racial person who has ever struggled with personal identity and where he or she fits into the world.
The Angry Zebra is the spirit animal of bi-racial youth. The son of black woman and a white man, I live in the Angry Zebra’s world. I know from experience that it is an even more confusing – and often lonely - place for young people.
Oftentimes, bi-racial or mixed kids have a hard time fitting in. They can feel like they don’t completely belong to a racial or ethnic group, which can leave them feeling left out or lost. This feeling of being out of place is why the zebra is shown angry. The blood on the body is a flesh wound. It might appear serious but it's not keeping the zebra chess piece down. The slash on it's side symbolizes a struggle with adversity and though the gash looks messy, he rises above the conflicts in his life and stands strong.
But the Angry Zebra has an advantage. Life the chessboard knight it resembles, the Angry Zebra can move in a special way, navigating between different communities. I believe mixed people move in unique ways through society. Sometimes we bridge the gap between the two races, helping each other see another point of view. Or, we move in and out of groups of people, never really fitting in completely but sharing our unique perspectives and continuing to move.
Camouflage is another recurring aspect throughout my work. A real zebra’s stripes are a form of camouflage. In a herd that’s moving together, the pattern forms a disorienting optical effect that helps protect everyone. However, a lone zebra stands out and is more vulnerable.It can be the same for mixed race people. We are better off when we come together and help each other. We are more angry alone.
Special thanks to Ann Holiday, Porter Arneill and Jessica Borusky. for having the guts to commission something so bold to be added to the loop. John Copaken for the thumbs up, Joel Shafer and Alan Handley for documentation. Jt Daniels and Christyna "Chez" Sanchez for art assisting and Chris Holiday for transportation.