Possibly the greatest comic, X-Men first hit the stands in 1963, 50 years later the legend continues. Wolverine aka Logan aka Weapon X has been a long standing favorite among the evolving roster. With healing powers, uncontrollable rage, razor sharp claws and an indestructible Adamantium skeleton he’s been down but never out. Today’s mask release is my tribute to my favorite Canuck.
I teamed up with BAIT to create my tribute to Wolverine. From their ‘Olympic Rings’ pack of Asics collabs, a single pair of GT-IIs is transformed into a one of a kind mask. A slight change up from my signature gas masks, this piece taps into a part of my childhood that inspires my work to this day. Many of the characters I create and photos I shoot pull from the exaggerated poses and imaginative costumes of my comic book dreams.
This mask was modeled by Victor Frosto, friend and fellow comic book fan. We met up in Diamond Bar at the BAIT shop for the shoot. Victor even rode out on his Harley, the perfect addition for this unique photo shoot.
If you’re new to my work and wondering why I make these masks, how I could destroy such coveted kicks, or simply what the work means – stay tuned here to FREEHANDPROFIT.com. You can find many answers in the FAQ or in the various interviews. I’ll also be releasing new artist statements to better explain the issues I explore through my art.
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My first passion has always been art but Hip-Hop became my mistress. She first tempted me in grade school with Snoop Dogg’s ‘Doggystyle’, in middle school she introduced me to graffiti and emcees/rappers like Bone Thugs N Harmony and Busta Rhymes, in high school Method Man & Redman sealed my allegiance to the beat of Hip-Hop. In 2001, when I arrived at Corcoran College of Art & Design, I set my mind to exploring and expressing the visual languages of Hip-Hop beyond graffiti.
After earning my BFA in 2005 from the Corcoran I moved to LA chasing those Hip-Hop dreams. In 2010 I began a year long creative project inspired by Noah Scalin’s ‘Skull-A-Day’. It was called MASK365 and every day for a year I created/drew/assembled/designed/painted/sculpted a mask and published the work through my site: freehandprofit.com. This creative gauntlet forced me out of my comfort zone and a few months into the project my hunt for new materials led me to tear a Gucci handbag apart at the seams only to reassemble it into a functioning gas mask/purse. The finished work clearly held the key to unlocking my next body of work, but I knew and cared very little about handbags. I wanted to work with materials that I cared about and revered.
Shoes, kicks, sneakers – whatever you call them – have always been a part of Hip-Hop. Run DMC turned the Adidas shell-toe into an icon for a culture. Since then rappers & emcees alike have curated the dress code adding staples like Chucks, Uptowns, Timberland boots, Jordans and Pumas. The shoes on our feet came to represent a part of our identity. The lines, color and textures of sneakers sold today even parallel those used by graffiti artists.
But why the gas mask? Mask making is an ancient art form and I look to link our modern times to this ancient art. The gas mask is the mask of our times, it represents atrocities at war, civil unrest, environmental damnation and works both as a symbol of fear and of protection. It also tips its hat to the keepers of the graffiti flame who wore/wear respirators and masks to protect their lungs from their poisonous art of choice. The ties to Hip-Hop’s original art form deepen when we examine the language within graffiti- the act of painting renamed “bombing” solidified the warlike nature of the art form.
I don’t offer answers in my work, instead I seek to explore issues we face within the Hip-Hop community. Issues of identity, materialism and duality intertwine as the work reflects a world that is in love with objects but that also has a love for a culture & lifestyle. The masks embrace our guilty pleasure while reminding us there are much more important problems at hand. The sacrifice of the shoes I love for the sake of my art is essential.
-Freehand Profit (Gary Lockwood)