Earlier this fall photographer and independent curator Iryna Kanishcheva presented an interesting photo collection entitled “Layers” at the Gary R. Libby Gallery in Gainesville, Florida, that explores a previously undeveloped direction: abstract photography in the study of urban art.

The photographs were taken at the 34th Street Graffiti wall in Gainesville in a way that it would not usually be seen; by isolating parts of what has been photographed using blur technique. In this way Kanishcheva highlights details that strangers would not normally pay attention to. Iryna chose the wall because of its long history of graffiti. The wall has been covered with layers of graffiti since 1979 and the messages on it, express often feelings of students studying at the University of Florida.

When describing the wall, Iryna says: “One writes just a tag, other wishes Happy Birthday or graduate/welcome greetings, there are supporters and provocateurs, kids that practice with letters and old school graffiti pioneers, all that was accumulated in the thick layer of paint. This is history of our town. The heaviest pieces with hundreds of layers of paint occasionally fall off on the ground. I picked some pieces for public display and shared cheeps of it between visitors of the show. 

According to Kanishcheva, the exhibition was held at the Garry R. Libby gallery located in the building of College of Arts in the University of Florida, because she wanted students to learn more about graffiti and process of creating murals. In addition to photographs, the exhibition displays a series of objects such as clothing, brushes, paint, stencils etc, used for the first murals of Gainesville. The objects not only highlight the importance of the process, but also question environmental issues: “Rusted spray cans along with plastic caps that never disintegrate in the soil. Are aerosols still bad for the environment? There were colorful paper trays attached to the gallery wall. We used them instead of regular plastic ones for the EU Environmental project by students of local high school. Visitors were able to see, touch and feel the creative process through video projection and objects distributed throughout the space.” – Iryna Kanishcheva.

When talking about the idea behind the exhibition, Iryna highlights the importance of recording the different steps in the creation of a mural based on her experience as a curator: ‘Working as a curator, I often document mural progress. It is important to take a good picture of the finished wall, but I feel like process details are underappreciated. We see plenty of murals on the media every day, but not many know how beautiful can be the creative mess around. This is something that I want to concentrate on in my work as a street photographer.’ – Iryna Kanishcheva.

Although the exhibition ended on September 22nd and is not longer open to the public, we got to see the visual material provided by Iryna, and that we now share with you.

About The 34th Street Wall Mural Contest

The 34th Street Wall Mural Contest is a public art project for Alachua County high school students. Supported and funded by The Center for European Studies at the University of Florida and the European Union. The goal of this project is to promote sustainability and positive change to our natural world through a public art movement. All participants are Alachua County High School students. Each student submitted a design that references topics such as; Climate change, clean air, clean energy, promoting repurposing/recycling/re-using; protecting our natural world as a whole. Five students were chosen to paint their designs on a section of the 34th street Graffiti wall. Instead of plastic trays, paper boxes were re-purposed.

About Iryna Kanishcheva

Iryna Kanishcheva was born and raised in Ukraine where she received two Masters degrees in Business Management and Pharmaceutical Technologies. Although she had a successful career working in the pharmaceutical sector as a Sales/Field Force Manager, she completely changed her focus when she moved to the USA.

Since then Iryna founded and curated the first urban art project in North Florida, 352walls and was the Co-Founder and Co-Curator for one of the biggest mural projects in the world, ArtUnitedUs (Kiev, Ukraine) until it came to an end this summer. 

Among other things Iryna established a guide to the street art scene and urban culture in Gainesville, GNV Urban Art, in the form of a website she created using some of her other talents, web design and journalism. She seeks out local artists, conducts interviews, photographs, and writes about them and international guests of the city. The blog has both informative and educational context. 

During the last years she has engaged in a series of projects and community activities with various organizations, introducing people of different ages to the Graffiti world. Among them Grove Street Neighborhood project that brings together Gainesville residents and regional artists (Proclamation). She gathered the best artists from around the world acting as the Urban Art Consultant for Art (Re)Public in Jacksonville, FL. The city’s first international art and mural expo. 

As a photographer, Iryna has contributed to numerous publications for the most relevant street art galleries on the web and magazines such as Instagrafite, Brooklyn Street Art, Graffiti Street, Urbanite, Arrested Motion, Street Art News, Graffiti Art Magazine (issue #28, #31, #32), Uninhibited Urban Art Magazine (issue #4), Stuart Urban Art Magazine (issue #2), and more. Her photographs were exhibited in the Historic Thomas Center, Gainesville, FL; Morean Arts Center, St. Petersburg, FL; Gary R. Libby Gallery, Gasinesville, FL and more regional galleries. Her first international solo show was in her hometown, Kiev, America House Kyiv gallery.

For more information check www.kanishcheva.com or read this interesting interview made by my friend Sami from streetartunitedstates here.

Author: Fran

Founder and editor of Urbanite. Street Art lover who after the finishing her MA thesis on the muralist movement in the 1920-50s, developed a fascination for street art and graffiti that eventually led to collaborations with different art blogs, including the creation of this one.