photography courtesy of: @just_a_spectator
Ethan Armen, is an anonymous 7 year old whose artwork began appearing all over NY in late 2013. He has recently been spotted expanding its borders to other locations including California, Boston, Canada, New Zealand and Spain. His identity is unknown although he’s been spotted drawing live at street art shows and on Instagram. His work is unattainable, yet his following is quickly expanding.
LIBBY SCHOETTLE is a collage artist who with her alter-ego character, PhoebeNewYork, delves deep into the life of a timeless woman in a modern way. Ironic, irate, loving and smart—Phoebe always makes us think about the emotion beyond the aesthetics.
Libby is a storyteller interested in exploring what it means to be human. Libby relies on words, their placement, their shape, and their texture to explore her character, and this helps her to explore and explain herself. She uses found photographs (often worn and damaged), as well as record album covers, images from contemporary fashion magazines, and pages from old fashion and pop art magazines to create her own narrative that reveals her fantasy life and her rich memories from childhood. Libby finds art materials at flea markets, antique stores, through private collectors, eBay, and also at Strand Bookstore. She also discovers things, especially printed words while walking down the street. Libby is always looking for things and, in this way, art permeates every moment of her life. Libby considers this act of searching for art material as valuable as the eventual outcome, completed artworks, because her search inspires her to live. “When I’m looking for something, I have a purpose.”
Libby’s work is mildly surrealist, her character lives on the edge of self-destruction and loneliness in some artworks, and yet she is considered a cute, whimsical, and happy girl in others. In many ways Libby still considers herself a child, and Phoebe is her grownup way of playing dolls. Her inspiration and materials for Phoebe spill from assorted boxes of paper letters, words, dresses and heads. Everything goes back into the boxes and is put away after a day of creating collages. There is a constant search for meaning with Phoebe and a playfulness while finding it.
PhoebeNewYork is rooted in existential values; she is no longer a mainstream human: she is part of the desk the bed, she is a coffee-maker, an egg beater, a box of cookies, a flower. PhoebeNewYork is the artist’s channel for love, for pain, for all the good and bad of life; she is a means of self-exploration and self-expression of the positive and negative for Libby. Through Phoebe, by reinventing and reinterpreting photos and magazines pages and whatever other objects she finds, Libby is able to explore her hopes and dreams, and her nightmares as well. There is a strong element of black humor to PhoebeNewYork: the character is able to make light of the serious in sometimes disturbing subject material. Through Phoebe, Libby delves into addiction, death, anxiety, depression, love, eating disorders, beauty, and time.There is an overall confusion as to where Phoebe is in time, and Libby likes to explore that as a way to explore her own confusion regarding time.
Libby also expresses herself through written work, self-portraits, and line drawings, and is currently the subject of a docu-series regarding her life as an artist.
STREET ART WORK
“Stickers are an amazing way to ‘show’ your art. The street organically becomes your gallery.” – Libby Schoettle
Libby’s street art came about quite accidentally. In 2014, the artist found herself looking around the city, really noticing stickers and wheat pastes. She thought, “I wonder if my art could fit in out on the streets.” It felt like she was asking if she, herself, could truly fit out in the streets. This was a valid question for such an introverted artist who still chooses to spend almost all her time creating art, alone, inside her apartment.
Libby began the adventure of getting out and putting stickers up, which quickly became a fun ongoing activity. Until she began to “sticker,” (and later wheatpaste) Libby had no idea what impact repeated symbols on the street could have. She has received a tremendous amount of positive feedback from the street art, and she is excited when she finds people have publicly posted pictures of her on Instagram. She continues to evolve her street offerings to inspire herself and, hopefully, others.
Libby likes making street art for so many reasons, including its unique relationship with time. She appreciates the immediacy of spreading her art on the streets. She feels rooted in time whenever she passes a PhoebeNewYork image she put up yesterday, or months ago. She considers the decay of a PhoebeNewYork image over time to be beautiful evidence that her art has lived (and she has lived through that experience, as well). The serendipity of who sees the art—and which version of its changing form they might see—is another way in which the intersection of art and time intrigues the artist.
A child of the 80s, Chris’ world was often completely flooded with the imagery and ideas presented by his television, his comic books, and the music and movies of the time. Immersed in these various mediums, Chris began to store the images brought forward though these everyday experiences in what he refers to as a “mental journal”. This journal was a haven of his thoughts that he could refer back to whenever necessary. Chris’ paintings frequently cite past conceptions of popular culture embedded in his psyche’s cache. This use of intertextuality also serves to offer a comfort or familiarity of sorts to the viewer. Chris’ works frequently reveal everyday musings and people one would pass on the street without looking or thinking about twice. These images also aid Chris in the creation of a visual language comprised of his own iconographic imagery. Through the repetition of this imagery, Chris strives to familiarize his viewers with the language he has constructed. Chris believes that the notions within his pieces serve as a backbone to the many stories created by the onlooker when he or she is viewing the work.
In 2001 Chris set in motion RobotsWillKill.com. Robots Will Kill is an arts site dedicated to community and exposure for artists/media often disregarded by the mainstream art world. Rather than featuring his own work exclusively, he opened it up to allow the possibility for it to become whatever it evolved into being. RWK has a core group of artists, those artists are Chris, Kev/Psyn, Veng and Over Under. Along with overseas affiliates ECB (Germany), Peeta (Italy), Flying Fortress (Germany) and JesseRobot (Belgium). This extended roster of artists helps to promote RWK as we push the boundaries of art.