Street Artist Creates Show to Advocate for Wildlife

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March 25, 2016

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Photo by Karen Du Maire

Street artist BK Foxx, whose murals can be found all over the city, is opening her new solo show “Kingdom” at the Woodward Gallery in lower Manhattan. Part of the proceeds in sales will go the World Wildlife Fund for “BK Foxx: Kingdom.” Her show is the product of mainly the artist’s enthusiasm for animals, featuring an eclectic collection which ranges from psychedelic jellyfish to domestic bunnies.
The works are rendered realistically but with two different mediums: oil and spray paint. While the lion oil paintings are created with detailed precision, there is a dream-like blur to the spray-painted polar bears and seals.

In this show, BK Foxx spreads social awareness about animals and the environment, and each work not only depicts an animal, but also communicates its environmental standing to the viewer. The exhibit benefits the World Wildlife Fund’s mission to relieve pressing threats to the diversity of wildlife. There is a real effort by the artist to depict a connection between animals and humans. Sometimes this is done by rendering humans, and sometimes this is as simple as an interaction with the person viewing the art.

Foxx paints the animals as passive and docile. “Ruth at the Parrot Jungle” is part of a series of smaller oil paintings that were based on monochromatic photographs. This particular piece is sepia and depicts a woman feeding a parrot while it perches on her shoulder. The gentle profile of the woman and the stillness of the animal establish the relationship between the human and the bird, while portraying the mutual understanding between pet and owner. In another oil painting titled “Meow II,” a lion lays sideways in the grass with half of its face visible, looking out at the audience. Although the composition is rendered in excruciating detail and vibrant colors, the animal in repose expresses the expresses the hidden peaceful and soulful nature of lions.

Though there is a unified subject and style linking the gallery’s works, there is an evident contrast at play, between the mix of spray-paint and oil paintings. One is a stereotypically street art medium while the other is commonly used in high art. Perhaps this combination is a transition of street art into galleries, forming a balance between the new and the traditional. At the same time, BK Foxx challenges the separation of street art and high art by showing that there is little to no difference between the two by using both representative mediums to work with the same concepts. The artwork in this show is purposeful in its philanthropic mission to spread awareness of wild animals.

“Kingdom” is on view at Woodward Gallery until May 7, 2016.

Qianqian Li, Contributing Writer