Photo by Ian Cox. Artwork by Sickboy.
Michael Rushmore ’14 Shares Street Art Expertise at Norwegian Festival
He may only be a Haverford junior, but in the world of international street art, Michael Rushmore ’14 is already a major player. While many of his classmates were prepping for midterms in late September, he was flying to the town of Stavanger on the west coast of Norway with an invitation to speak at Nuart 2012, an 11-year-old art festival that has focused on street art since 2005.
Street art is, simply put, art that appears in public spaces, but the term often refers to unsanctioned or “illegal” art such as graffiti, stencils, pasted posters and guerilla sculptures. It is an artform that Rushmore has feverishly chronicled via vandalog.com, the online street art blog he founded in October 2008, when he was still in high school.
“Martyn Reed, the organizer of Nuart, explained that I was there to represent the digital street art press,” says Rushmore, who has also produced a coffee table book, The Thousands: Painting Outside, Breaking In, and curated his own street art shows in London and New York.
During his three days in Norway, Rushmore led a tour of street art and public advertising in Stavanger with artist Jordan Seiler, debated the influence and experience of street art online with PAPER magazine’s Carlo McCormick and Juxtapoz editor-in-chief Evan Pricco, and gave a panel presentation about street art that only exists digitally, such as virtual performance art that happens inside videogames. He also attended as many of the other panels and talks as he could and enjoyed big communal dinners with the international cast of artists and other writers at the fest.
“The debate with Evan and Carlo was definitely a highlight,” says Rushmore. “It was a casual and honest discussion of a lot of the issues facing street art today, and it helped me to appreciate the transition that art is undergoing right now for the entire arts community as a new generation of digital natives begins making and appreciating art.”
Rushmore, who is majoring in political science and minoring in the history of art, has previously shared his love of street art with the Haverford community by bringing artists Troy Lovegates, Labrona and Gaia to campus to create murals on James House, the student art building. Additionally, at the end of his first year at Haverford, he organized a John B. Hurford ’60 Center For Arts and Humanities-sponsored panel discussion, “Street Communications,” which brought artists and chroniclers of the scene to campus to debate ideas about art and advertising in public space. This recent, memorable trip to Nuart is sure to impact Rushmore’s life at Haverford as well.
“I'm hoping to use some of my experiences at Nuart in my thesis next year, if I decide to write about how people in different cities have developed very different mural programs,” he says. “Nuart is more on the rebellious side of things, since the festival is sponsored in part by the Norwegian Government, but the festival organizers encourage the creation of both legal and illegal street art.”