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To acquire wisdom, one must observe

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Cities as canvases: Art by Amelie

Amelie de Cirfontaine ’18 is a mural and street artist currently based in both San Francisco and New York. Even though Amelie always considered herself an artist, she initially did not see it as a potential career. Amelie graduated from Brandeis in 2018 with a major in not only art, but business and international studies. Right out of college, she worked for large tech companies and occasionally painted murals for them. In an interview with The Brandeis Hoot, Amelie said, “It wasn’t my job, it was just something that made me happy.” The pandemic was a turning point in Amelie’s career, when she began creating street art in San Francisco using a wheat-pasting technique. She said, “all I dreamed about every day is painting walls.” Amelie talked about how the response of the community convinced her to pursue her passion. An important aspect of using the streets as her gallery is that she doesn’t get to “control the dialogue” or select the people that see her work.

 

Amelie’s street art and murals focus on feminine bodies and the female perspective. She said, “I didn’t see any female representation on the streets.” According to Amelie, many of the female figures in the city represented only the male perspective, and she was interested in adding her own. Amelie believes that “street art should be representative of all different kinds of people of all walks of life.”

 

One of the main challenges Amelie faced in her career was that street art is a primarily “male-dominated industry.” She also said that painting at night in a city was usually not possible for her as a woman. When she works with other artists she is often the only woman in the room. Amelie said “most people don’t know they can do this kind of art.” Another obstacle she faced was the conflict of having to say no to opportunities that don’t suit the kind of art she wanted to create.

 

Amelie has visited and lived in many cities across the world. When asked about the impact traveling has had on her work, she describes how the influence of each new culture she experienced was subconsciously reflected in her work. She believes that art reflects an artist’s experience and that’s why it is “forever changing.” Her female figures, like the “blooming thoughts ladies,” emphasize growth and portray her own journey. However, she creates ambiguous figures, which allow “people to connect with her in their own ways and create their own stories about her.”

 

When asked about people that inspired her, she mentioned an artist called JR. She said she was inspired by the way his art encouraged people to have conversations and talk about social change.

 

Amelie has just painted her first mural in Brooklyn and is planning to work more on her sketching, as she does in colder months of the year and will take part in a mural festival in Mexico next year. Amelie hopes to continue to do what makes her happy: “painting murals and interacting with locals” in cities across the world.

[This was updated on Nov. 12. An earlier article mentioned colleagues she had not worked with.]

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