In Just a Word – A Conversation with Aubrie Costello, Silk Graffiti Artist & Vendor at Art for the Cash Poor
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InLiquid is proud to present our annual summer art sale at the Crane Arts Building, Art for the Cash Poor 2017. Based on the premise that everyone can be an art collector, AFTCP is one of the longest running art festivals in the Kensington/Fishtown area. The focus of the event is that all works, both by emerging and established artists alike, are priced at under two hundred dollars. It is a unique event that brings artists and the public together in an accessible way for everyone.
Today, we introduce Philadelphia-based silk graffiti artist Aubrie Costello!
It only takes a few words to tell a good story; but the most talented writers can give you the hook, line, and sinker with just one. Whether the story is tragic, romantic, heartbreaking, or hopeful, one word can be the Proustian madeleine to unleash a plethora of emotions.
Aubrie Costello has created fiber art installations called Silk Graffiti for nearly a decade. Usually seen as ephemeral installations of words and phrases she has collected over time, Costello creates silk flags with viscerally destroyed yards of torn silk, hand sewn into letters spelling out a message. Outdoors, they live as intimate conversations with pedestrians. Eventually faded, torn, and weathered, these installations evolve in both its appearance and meaning to its viewers. It’s what she calls, “a beautiful mess.”
We couldn’t be more excited to have Costello bring what she has out to the public, available to adorn our homes and, according to her, our wardrobes! In speaking with her, we discussed relationships-present-and-past turned into art, her collaboration with Signs of Solidarity, and what she’ll have available at AFTCP 2017!
Elizabeth: I’m intrigued on how your pieces are created from journaling your day-to-day interactions, observations, and memories; was your discovery of using silk found by chance or trial-and-error with other materials?
Aubrie: There has definitely been an evolution of my work, but the presence of silk has remained. A common thread, if you will 🙂 . I used to create pastel drawings of invented landscapes and figures with correlating installations of assemblages of found/collected objects like high-heeled shoes, vintage suitcase, even old computers, piled in space & bound by hand in strips of silk. As I fell more in love with working with the silk than with the pastels, I started exploring other ways I could manipulate the fabric alone to create something compelling. I was doing a lot of writing, collecting words & stories, learning about graffiti culture, and starting to think more and more about creating work publicly–out of those thoughts/desires, came my current body of work; I started just writing directly on the wall in silk.
E: Most of the words you use in your silk graffiti deal with relationships; I see that Signs of Solidarity take it to the next level—tell me more about this collaboration.
A: My personal work deals broadly with relationships: my own relationships, my relationship with myself, and the dynamics of other relationships around me. Signs Of Solidarity created relationships during a time when divisiveness was growing stronger by the day (before & after the election/Inauguration). Co-organizing and curating with Conrad Benner [of Streets Department] & Eric Preisandanz [of Revolvd] created a bond which fueled a compelling collaboration with over 30 creatives in the city & encouraged more dialogue between people about the role of art throughout the country. The project helped all of us focus our creative energies, assemble quickly, work together, and strategize ways to successfully vocalize our collective concerns for the country and the world at large through visual art. It gave us a means to express our hopes and desires for unity in a time of uncertainty & confusion & divisiveness. The project was accessible & created space for meditation and reflection for a lot of people who experienced it, gave a platform for artists to offer their thoughtful, considered artwork to the community. Signs gave some people hope when they felt like there was nothing to be hopeful for. At the very least, the project sparked conversation between strangers. I’m honored to be a part of that & hope we can bring more to the table in the next phase.
E: Have you run into any issues with your series Unravel? Would you say nature’s run its course?
A: The only issue I’ve run into is people taking the work down before the elements do. That isn’t a big problem or anything, I’d just love for the pieces to stay up for as long as possible for more people to experience them and let mother nature take the reigns & destroy the work. But that’s just the nature of street art 🙂 It comes with the territory. I love to see how the elements destroy the work on the streets, in a forest, at the beach…wherever they live.
E: I love that what you’ve put out as public art can also be accessed as art for home..what are some pieces you’re excited to bring to AFTCP?
A: I’m creating smaller work for AFTCP, that people can adorn their home with or gift to lovers & friends. At AFTCP, you’ll find more tiny flags from my four letter word series, some framed archival prints of some of my favorite installations under $200, 5-color Awkward Beautiful silkscreenprints, and new Longing wearables, including a unisex tee and cropped sweatshirt!
E: You’ve brought feminine flair to a predominantly male form of art. Do you have any advice for any young, aspiring, female graffiti artists?
A: Your words are important, your vision is important, and your presence in the community is essential. Girl, just go out and do it.
You can catch Aubrie Costello on Friday at the Art for the Cash Poor Kickoff Party and Saturday of AFTCP Weekend.