Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday ProFile: Meki

Peru's population of 29 million consists of Amerindians, Africans, Asians, and Europeans. Each group contributed their own set of rich traditions to Peru's cultural heritage. This diversity results in a wide range of expressions within the artistic community. Lima based artist Meki is a great example of this creative range. When she's not painting on the streets, you can find her making costumes or writing plays. While she's painted across South America, her hometown of Lima is her favorite location.

As a child, Meki developed a consistent practice of drawing every day. When graffiti arrived in the city, it changed everything. “Whenever I saw graffiti and street art, I felt great admiration for the artists,” she explains. “On one trip, I saw a train painted completely and I was impressed. I created my own style by drawing in my notebook when I was in class.” After some practice at home and on school walls, she took her ideas outside. Taking her moniker from a childhood nickname, she hit the streets four years ago and never looked back.

Over time, Meki noticed a change in Lima’s street scene.“The style has changed,” she explains. “It’s taken on its own aesthetics and no longer completely copies Philadelphia or New York. I’m not old school, but I believe that the tagger was the predecessor of what you see on the streets now.” Despite the changes in approach and technique, Meki doubts she’ll grow tired of street art any time soon. “Life motivates me,” she says. “Emotion, friends, stories, adrenaline, boring towns, good times!”
Sometimes, street art can get ridiculous. “We had a tool that uses a lot of air pressure like a fire extinguisher,” she recalls. “We put these on our backs and walked around pretending we were in Ghostbusters! With these, you can bomb gigantic areas in seconds. Many times, the police followed us on their bikes but they couldn’t say anything because it wasn’t obvious that we were painting.”
Collaboration is the best part of street art. “I was part of ‘Chafe,’ which consisted of three friends,” she remembers. “Sometimes I reconnect with this crew, but one member moved out of the country. Right now, I roll with Fumakaka, which is comprised of Naf, Seimiek, ioke, bear, dok, and me. This crew does graffiti as well as sculptures.” Working with others, Meki feels, improves the quality of the work. “A crew goes beyond just production,” she insists. “We are friends and family!”
Meki has big plans for her next endeavors. “Right now, I’m working with my crew on adapting Where the Wild Things Are into a play for children,” he shares. “When I finish studying anthropology, I would like to mix my degree with art.” Although she's indoors for now, Meki prefers to work outside. “I think the streets are a better place to work because it allows more heartfelt reactions than in a gallery," she confesses. "I’ve worked in galleries. I think there are some spaces out there that are willing to do things with more time or better lighting, but it’s still not as varied as in the streets. If you want to see graffiti, take a walk in the street!”

Gracias, Meki! For more photos, head over to her Flickr.

Next week is my April vacation, so that means a break from the blog and a trip to new places. This time, I'm off to San Francisco! I plan on drinking lots of coffee, biking everywhere, and snapping hundreds of street art photos. I'll miss you all, but I'll be back on April 26 with more stories to share!


  1. H evisto los trabajos de Meki en Perú y es innegable el talento de este joven, algún día va a ser famoso y formará parte del legado cultural de este caótico país.

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