Rae is probably one of the ballsier street artists active in New York at the moment. He regularly installs sculptures on signposts around the city, stickers prolifically and once even installed a bas relief-like piece onto the wall of a subway station. I recently caught up with Rae over email.
RJ: Why do you think there are only a handful of sculptors doing street art?
Rae: Well they definitely take more time to make and usually require more planning to install. But I like to mix things up, so sculptural pieces are just one aspect of my work along with painting walls, paste-ups and stickers.
RJ: What do you see as the difference between your street pieces and your gallery pieces?
Rae: With my street pieces I try to focus on things being a bit more graphic. So if you see them from a distance you can make them out easier. They also need to able to hold up to the elements and A-holes messing with them. My indoor pieces tend to have more details to them, hundreds more nails banged into them and more metal parts. Too much metal on outdoor work makes them attractive for scrap metal guys.
RJ: Why do you install your work outdoors?
Rae: Growing up in Brooklyn and doing graffiti was all about getting your name up as many times as possible. I was not prolific in that way but the times I did write outside it was as much about the art of getting away with it as it was to getting up. I’ve been making art my whole life but didn’t always share it with others. When street art first emerged I became a “lookout” and “facilitator” for other artists but didn’t have the bug to get into it myself for some reason. I just focused on making art indoors and experimenting with microwaving, melting and boiling things. Until one day I woke up took a look at all the stuff collecting dust in my studio and said “shit’s got to go”. I tried giving some art to family as gifts but some of the pieces wound up stored in the garage next to mechanical reindeers. So next best thing was to try bolting things outdoors and paint murals. After that I was hooked. Now it’s about seeing the work become apart of and play off of the street’s landscape that interests me.
RJ: How important is an artist’s mythology to their artwork?
Rae: Considering we live in a society where people tend to want to label others and put them in a box, I think as an artist it is important to have some mythology behind your work. For example, I have been making art my whole life in one form or another but because I didn’t put work outside or tell everybody I met I was an “artist” some might think you’re new to the game. I also think your work should speak for itself. If you’re going to stand in front of your paintings with a Kool-Aid smile explaining the meaning behind your work– something’s wrong. The other issue is that fact that 90% of my outdoor work is ‘unsanctioned’.
RJ: Whose art do you have hanging in your home, and whose would you like to have hanging if you have unlimited resources?
Rae: I’m into collecting things that some may not consider “art”. Misspelled signage from local shops, crudely made tools, poorly crafted furniture, for example a stool I picked up in Costa Rica with one leg shorter than the other two. Things like that. I see art in everyday objects and things people make for function. But, if I had unlimited resources I’d probably hang the Mona Lisa in my house. I think it’s interesting that out of all the masterpieces ever created in the world the one that intrigues people the most is a portrait of a half-smirking, thick woman.
RJ: What have you got coming up?
Rae: Besides my dental appointment next week, more street work in a variety of mediums and a show/project somewhere TBA in the fall.
RJ: What’s up between you and Bast?
Rae: Rather than give you a lengthy explanation, I prepared a video statement that I hope you will consider including a link to in this interview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=syaGBHRguYY
Photos courtesy of Rae