When and why did you get into painting?
I started drawing when I was a child. My sister told me I knew how to write my name in cursive, then started drawing everywhere around the house. Fast-forward to when I was around 5-7 years old, I walked into my brother Leo's room rockin' a graffiti piece. That experience alone influenced me to keep flowin' with Art.
Why do you believe painting is the best way for you to express yourself?
Any expression of the soul is communication from God to the world. We are His conduits. Its just up to the person on how they convey that energy to the world. Making Art for me is what I know best. Its what resonates within me & flows out of me. Its like breath. If I don't share it, I feel as if I am not allowing humanity to feel what it's like to be truly alive. To not do it, I feel as if I am dying.
What inspires your work?
God, my brother, my sister Gigi & my boyfriend Dorian "DENZITY" Lopez will always be my inspiration. Knowing God created everything in the universe as well as humanity me always leaves me in awe. If people only knew how complex we are, as well as how infinite the universe is, they would think and live differently. On behalf of my brother & sister- they have raised me to be the artist I am today. They taught me techniques, introduced me to various dope artists, bumped amazing music, overall- enlightened me. Lastly, my boyfriend's encouragement pushes me to do the impossible. His faith in me makes me want to do my best in everything I do as well as break through any boundaries that get in my way! Having them in my life keeps me moving!
Mika, Monica Monet & Troy with Grace's "Afrocentrizm" piece, done live in support of Blak.Woman.Dynamik (the play) & Monica Monet @ Mr. Q's Funk Jazz Cafe
Describe the graphic art scene in Jacksonville. How does it compare to other scenes you are familiar with?
From my experience working in the art scene, I found myself exhausting myself to redundancy. I became a "Yes Man" to every opportunity to show my work all over town, but haven't gained much from it. I have my crew of friends/supporters, as well as a lot of compliments from various peoples, but I felt as if I became a bird in a cage. For a local artist, there is no problem getting your work up in a venue & getting some publicity. The problem is most artists get support from their closest friends/fans, but it hardly goes outside of that circle- nevertheless, outside of Jacksonville. I've met & know of a lot of talented cats & find a lot of them getting frustrated in Jacksonville, until they move or experience scenes in other areas. It still has room to improve, but the people need to join together to help its progression.
In comparison to NYC, the hustle is harder, everything is flavorful, there are a lot of interesting cats to mingle with & you have the world as your oyster. From my experience hanging out with my sister in Brooklyn, I noticed her circle of friends are all amazing artists that all genuinely love & support one another. When they do events, they rock it solo or together, get mad support from their crews & from people that are interested in what they have to offer to the world. They usually have dope advertising and lots of press from the event itself.
What brought you to Brooklyn?
I've been making numerous trips to NYC since 2005. Recently, I went there for this event "Meeting of Styles" at 5 Pointz held on Sept. 10-12. A mutual friend of my family & crew, Reskew, received confirmation from Meres (owner of 5 Pointz) to do a wall for the event. So me, my brother, friend & boyfriend decided to drive up from Jacksonville. We all stayed together for a week, but I stayed another week to hang out with my sister. It was an inspiring trip that I'll never forget! Check out the video below. This is one of the things we did while we were there:
Describe your experience at the 2nd Annual Filipino Pride Day in Jacksonville, Florida. How did you get involved with the festival? How was your reception by the festival goers?
My main focus was to represent my people and to enlighten them with history of the Philippines. I was also excited to have my crew, THE 8X10 COLLECTIVE (me, my brother & sister) in one show. Knowing that our first show was at a Filipino festival made us all very proud! My experience there was an enriching one. I was happy to share our gifts to our people as well as remind them where we stand as a people. Painting alongside my brother (I painted Corazon Aquino, he painted Ninoy Aquino), we attracted a lot of attention from people passing by. Some stayed throughout the entire performance to see our progress. We also had dope tunes blastin', incense burnin', good energy, as well as having my boyfriend, friends & family come support.
I actually got involved with the festival through Audrey Aviles (a family friend) & hooked up with the show by Angel Dendam. We thank them for everything they have done! It was an absolute success!
What is your favorite hip hop album, and why?
My musical tastes are very broad, but I would have to say my staple Hip-Hop album would be The Roots "illadelph halflife", simply because that was the first hip-hop album I heard. I remember vividly diggin' through my brother's music collection when I was in 5th Grade & pullin' out this album. I jammed out to it for a long minute. This album changed my overall being since then! Also, Digable Planets "Blowout Comb" How could you NOT love that album? I find my ass still boppin' my head to that sh*t! That album is super dopeness at its finest and will never get old!