Kelsey Montague, the artist behind our Change Starts Here mural currently on display in SoHo, is a rising star in the street art world, which tends to be a male dominated industry. We sat down with her recently to learn more about her experience as an artist, and hear her perspective on the meaning behind Change Starts Here.
How did you get your start in street art? My love of street art started when I discovered Banksy while I was in college in London. After my own art started to take shape, I continued to be attracted to large-scale pieces and particularly to ways that art can be interactive. After I moved to NYC I had the opportunity to create a large-scale piece in Nolita, Manhattan and decided to do Angel Wings. I wanted people to be able to step into my piece and look as if they were flying but more importantly, I wanted to give people the opportunity to reflect on what lifts them in their own lives. That is when I decided to attach the #WhatLiftsYou hashtag to the piece. I had no idea if people would like it or hate it but immediately people were sharing inspiration on the #WhatLiftsYou hashtag! Since then I’ve traveled the world creating uplifting and interactive pieces.
Tell us a little bit about this specific piece at Little Cupcake Bakeshop. What feels special about the design and the outcome to you? I’m so excited about my piece with FEED! This piece was very different for me because I wasn’t using a metaphor image like wings to make a statement. Instead, I was creating a piece that was ALL about the person standing inside it.
I love supporting an organization that has provided over 95 million meals to people around the world through commerce.
How does the message of this mural resonate with you? I love the message of this piece because I think it really speaks to what the focus of International Women’s Day should be about: our power to create change as individuals. It really is about “being the change you wish to see in the world.”
Finish the sentence: "I want to live in a world where women and girls everywhere ...." Are treated equally and given the opportunity to live their dreams.
What about your work or life right now contributes to that vision? My #WhatLiftsYou campaign is all about giving people a chance to reflect on what their dreams are made of.
I also think working in a male dominated field (street art) makes me ultra aware of how difficult it can be to be a woman in certain fields. I often am criticized because I am not “street art enough’” because my work is hand-drawn, legally created and whimsical. I can’t wait for the day when women (and the way they create or execute their work) are accepted as equal to their male counterparts in all industries.
What other exciting things do you have going on right now? I’m very excited to announce that What Lifts You, my debut book, has just been released by Harlequin. It is a coloring book for adults. I was so excited to do this book because I wanted to create a fully interactive book. Each page is perforated so people can remove it and take it into the “real world.”
Coloring is also meditative and great for mental health. I’m honored to be part of a group of illustrators that are creating peaceful moments for people around the world.