In honor of May Mental Health Month, Chicago artist Joseph Perez, who served as Sentrock, created an illustrated series that celebrates the people and scenes around his studio in the Pilsen district. “I started doing it just for myself, taking an hour or two to share my thoughts or reflections for this day or the day before,” he tells Colossal.
Lively, expressive and deeply empathetic, the resulting illustrations draw on Sentrock’s background as a graffiti artist and his connection to his environment. They tell a story about the neighborhood, which was historically rich in Latinx culture, and portray the sights and experiences the community shares from a very personal perspective. The artist explains:
I began to allow myself to reflect on the past, the present, the current situations I was in. I allowed myself to reflect on my everyday life, whether it was boring, exciting or just my idea of the moment. I started capturing people outside of my studio, friends and strangers. My goal was to connect with the people around me, the community.
Sentrock began with reference photos of friends, family, and community members before reinterpreting them in bright, vivid renditions of his signature bird character. Usually depicted as a beak mask, the recurring image is Sentrock’s analogy “to humanity: a person who is able to find their freedom or escape into it by transferring them to another reality”. In the new works, the figure travels from person to person, sometimes carried by children skateboarding on 18th Street and others by the artist himself, as in the moving portrait of him and his mother.
Go to Instagram to see the full set and original images, and when in Chicago keep an eye out for the designs Sentrock plans to make wheat paste across the city.
Are stories and artists like this important to you? To become something Colossal member and support independent art publications. Join a community of like-minded readers passionate about contemporary art and support ours Interview series, get access to partner discounts and much more. Join now!