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Phaan is the artist known as “JulieBakerandSummer” who makes art through a variety of mediums, from walls and clothes to canvas. Phaan describes her style as imperfect and loves the way it makes people feel, invoking a sense of relatability to her work.
Koen is a practicing psychotherapist from England who has been a life-long activist for mental health awareness, equality, and the LGBTQ+ community. A former K-OTIC band member, Koen always felt that it was “so weird to put genders in any objects” and gradually came to realize that they do not see gender in clothes, opening them up to the freedom of expressing themselves how they want.
In this lush representation of diversity, Phaan and Koen use the main figure to convey that being a human is not limited to being a man or woman, and that nature does not confine us to gender restraints – society does. The posture of this human is meant to convey a sense of comfort, and that we must seek to create a society that in itself is a safe place for everyone to express themselves.
Phaan and Koen feel that fluidity, sex, and art are similar – and that this fluidity allows for various interpretations that can change at any time, allowing for free expression of oneself. Koen believes that there is no definition of art, and that this correlates directly to the freedom of being gender-fluid, where you have a freedom to “choose to be whatever we want, just like this art piece.” The power of choice and personal freedom and expression is a strong theme that runs through this mural.
Trees and counting.
The theme of Phaan and Koen’s mural was bred from conversations between the two, where they sought a greater understanding of one another and a shift in perspective of seeing humans as humans. “I feel that art has a soft power,” Phaan describes. “It can tell the strong message to the masses in a gentle way.”
Through this mural, Phaan and Koen planted the equivalent of 25 trees, showing the power of sustainability and using our resources wisely. Converse believes it has an opportunity to renew its impact by creating fresh air in its communities through Converse City Forests.
Follow #ConverseCityForests to see what our community is creating to break down barriers.