By Samuel Temblador
Late last month, artist Rachel McCollum taped up a street mural made of felt on the wall of an Echo Park public stairway that leads down from Sunset Boulevard to Glendale Boulevard. The mural, a series of felt shapes entitled “Urban Intervention: Shapes in Space,” was up only for a day or two before someone had taken down half the pieces. But McCollum was not upset that someone had tampered with the mural.
“What happens to them once I leave them in the public domain is not really any of my business,” said McCollum, who returned to the stairway to remove the remaining felt pieces. “It doesn’t bother me that people take them down.”
In fact, McCollum’s fabric street art pieces are not mean to be permanent. They can be easily removed to open up the space for others.
The 30-year-old artist who lives in Angeleno Heights began setting up the felt murals about six months ago, using double-sided duct tape to adhere colorful shapes and blobs to brick walls and doors. The pieces are fundamentally about communication and the urban environment.
“I feel like the city is always kind of shouting at us, through it’s iconography, advertisements, signage, graffiti, architecture, and the natural landscape,” McCollum said in an email. “This is my contribution to that conversation.”
She likes using felt because of its tactility and the freedom it gives her to work with three dimensional materials to create two dimensional images that combine realism and abstraction. “I also like that it’s childish, playful, unexpected, and slightly humorous. I can shift the pieces around until I get it how I want it, like Colorforms or refrigerator magnets.”
Her process consists of developing a concept, deciding on a location for her project, and then, depending on the scale of the project, spending a couple of days creating her shapes. Once her materials are ready, installation is fairly short. McCollum stitches every piece by hand and uses double sided duct tape to stick the pieces to their intended surfaces. The pieces create the illusion that they are stitched into brick, concrete and other hard surfaces they cover
McCollum said she is an advocate of all forms of street art and is not against using more permanent materials. But for now she is more interested in more ephemeral forms of public art.
“By not permanently altering a space, I am theoretically leaving it for someone else to use when I am done.“
Samuel Temblador is a UCLA student from South L.A. interested in journalism and communications.