We are excited to welcome back Aiko as she joins us with Aquarius as part of our ongoing Flint Water Crisis Print Suite! Joining the likes of Robbie Conal, Shepard Fairey, Brandon Boyd and Ron English, we are excited to kick off 2018’s first release as part of the print suite and welcome back Aiko for her latest release. Each print in this series is almost completely hand-painted by Aiko, with each color individually hand-painted before a 1-color screen print. Each is completely unqiue and will vary slightly from print to print. Be sure to snag your favorite before it’s sold out and help support two great organizations, as a portion of the proceeds from this release will help benefit the Flint Child Health & Development Foundation and the Michigan ACLU! Snag this print and please help support these organizations directly as well! You can find more updates from ACLU and Detroit Metro Times on the ongoing situation in Flint as we close in on 4 years since it has come to the forefront. . .
1xRUN: Tell us a little bit about this piece, anything immediate you would like us to highlight about this imagery? What is unique about this piece compared with your other work?
Aiko: Since this project is to help people who are suffering from water in Flint, I wanted to use this image of a girl with spirit of water. Like the angel of water; she is chilling in the glass of water. Water should be free and clean for everyone, we are all part of nature. I was working on this print throughout February hand coloring one by one, and it was period of Aquarius, zodiac sign, which is the symbol of the water server. I also discovered that the word Aquarius actually referred to the public water system in ancient Rome. When I discovered what happened with the Flint Water Crisis I couldn’t believe that it was happening now, and I am very furious about how government cannot do anything with it. Shame, why people in ancient times were able to provide clean water to everyone but not in Michigan in 2018?
1x: Was this image part of a recent theme, series or show that you have?
Aiko: The girl and the butterfly have been a theme of mine for a long time, since I was a part of Faile. I love the butterfly as symbol of transformation. Especially after I became a solo artist in 2006, I have been pushing this theme and kept painting images of girls with a butterfly mask. I could say this is my alter ego, but also it could be all women’s alter ego and fantasy. All the girls in my works are super relaxed, very powerful and free from all struggle of everyday life.
1x: How long did this image take to create from start to finish? What materials were used?
Aiko: I made this collage on paper, and cut stencils from it, then scanned the stencil so that we could make the silk screens to print the final layer. I made another stencil for the color layers to spray paint them all by hand, so it has 5 layers with 10 colors each. A very small edition has extra unique hand-embellishments that were done with oil sticks.
After all of that was done, I sent all papers back to the printer in Michigan to print final layer with black ink. It took a few months to complete. I made the original work in New York and sent to printer, then they printed first layer and sent papers back to me. I colored with spray paint then sent them back to printer again. We took long-distance back to back action, but I prefer this way because some of process were done in Michigan near by Flint, the place we are talking about.
1x: Why should people buy this one of these prints?
Aiko: You will get beautiful work in your house and also you will help people in Flint.
Portion of Proceeds Benefit The Flint Child Health & Development Fund + The Michigan ACLU
1x: As an artist how important do you feel it is to help bring to light these social issues and draw attention to them with your social media following and with the artwork itself?
Aiko: I am not fully trusting social media, but thankfully I have good amount of followers I can speak about what’s happening in our everyday life. I try share my art and positive energy, ideas and social issues we must think and act.
1x: Who are some of your favorite artists that are also activists, and what effect has their work/attitude had on you in wanting to do the same type of thing?
Aiko: My generation, of course Banksy. He always takes a keen interest in political and environmental issue and he create great pieces to make awareness to people with great scene of humor. I love his recent piece on Bowery wall about Turkish prisoner Zehra Dogan.
Older generation, I love Juan Manuel Echavarría… he is a Latin American artist from Colombia, he is also working on social issue, his project “The War We Have Not Seen” work with local ex solders in Colombia is really amazing. Everyone must watch his film. It made me cry.
1x: Any big shows or events coming up that you’d like to share?
Aiko: I am having big shows and I would like to invite everyone! I have a solo show “Bunny in the House” at Wall Works Gallery in South Bronx that is on view until April 6th. It was such pleasure having a retrospective show in the mecca of hip-hop and subway art. I also had a piece in a group show “A Colossal World: Japanese Artists And New York 1950S – Present” at White Box Gallery in LES which opened earlier this month. The show is about the history of Japanese artists in New Yorker including Yoko Ono, Yayoi Kusma, Takashi Murakami and 50 others. I am very honored that they are highlighting me and my work alongside the most important art and artist of our time.
Also my first solo show in Japan is opening at Shizuoka Tokaido Hiroshige Museum on April 3rd. Hiroshige is one of the old master who did the series of Tokaido 53stations. I am introducing 20 years of street art travel, producing traditional wood block prints and exhibiting with Japanese old master’s original wood block prints from 17-18th century. I’m also part of exhibition “Beyond The Street”, which is a big group show with bunch of international graffiti legends and street art stars, and that is in Los Angeles on May 3rd.