All images courtesy of JustKids
If you happen to visit Fort Chaffee in Arkansas this year, you’ll undoubtedly spot a giant former water tower on the horizon, covered in colourful gradient pattern and featuring larger than life psychedelic illustrations of varied flora and vegetation from the region.
It’s the work of LA-based Australian contemporary artists Darren and Emmelene Mate, collectively known as DabsMyla, who were appointed by women-led global curator group Justkids and Arkansas organisation OZ Art to overhaul the 70 feet tall, disused structure in their bold, playful, and whimsical style.
“Colour plays a big role in our work and how we create,” say the artists. “For this piece, we wanted to produce an uplifting feeling through flowers and running a rainbow of hues from the bottom to the top. This is a really large work, and we hope that it will positively impact the community and bring happiness to everyone who passes by it.”
Called Magical Unity, the mural is like a giant circular flower bed and was painstakingly hand-painted by the duo in just a week. Says Justkids curator Charlotte Dutoit of the project: “DabsMyla’s mastery of colour theory and composition dynamic perfectly speaks to the cylindrical nature of the canvas. The piece creates an unexpected dialogue with the surrounding nature and invites the viewer to step into their mesmerising peaceful world.”
This is not the first time Justkids has worked to bring public art to Northwest Arkansas. Since 2015, it has curated and produced over 50 projects in the region from sculptures to installations, performances, murals and pop-up exhibitions for institutions, cities and organisations. The idea is that art “fosters community” through a “shared appreciation of culture and nature across The Natural State”. Now that’s something we can get on board with.