In his work as a muralist and studio artist, Bmike’s monumental portraits speak to the broad community impact that an individual’s agency can have. This painting, like many of Bmike’s visual creations, fosters a sense of belonging that encourages youth empowerment while maintaining a critical eye on notions of individual greatness. The young man pictured sports a gold-leafed halo and bright “alchemist” t-shirt. The underpainting layer reveals a process of Bmike’s image construction, in which graffiti-styled lettering forms a textured background or historical starting point that recognizes the power of resistance and influence of the street art movement. Alchemy is among the major themes of Bmike's artistic practice - which seeks both physical and cultural transformation. Among the dozens of designs and messages of self-empowerment in Bmike's apparel shop, there is a t-shirt printed with the Oxford Dictionary definition for the word alchemist: “Alchemist, noun, a person who transforms or creates something through a seemingly magical process.” Discussing his use of the term to describe his own art, Bmike said of Project Be, a public art installation presented in 2013 at the neglected former Florida Housing Project in the Lower Ninth Ward, “We took paint and created alchemy, took something painful and made it temporarily beautiful." And, in a conversation regarding his current show at Newcomb, Bmike explained: “It’s this narrative of alchemy, where even from painful moments there were beautiful things that grew.”
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