After his yarn installation on the Williamsburg Bridge this summer met with so much interest, I lept at the opportunity to help Minneapolis-based street artist HOTTEA realize his next New York City project. On an unusually warm and sunny November day, I met up with HOTTEA and a small crew of fellow assistants, Jaime Rojo of Brooklyn Street Art, Disco Bryso and Patrick Sullivan.
HOTTEA came prepared with two heavy panels: each bore a meticulously stenciled recreation of one of Dondi’s iconic 1980 Children of the Grave wholecar pieces applied onto a series of yarn rectangles fastened onto a metal framework. It was our job to position these panels in such a way so as to create the illusion of Dondi’s work passing by on the modern subway.
Of his inspiration, HOTTEA wrote, “As an ex-graffiti writer of 12+ years there is no denying the influence of 80’s NYC subway graffiti had on me. I still remember the first time watching Style Wars and how much of an impact it had on me and my work. Dondi’s work stood out to me amongst them all. The way he spoke about his work, the colors and the style in which he wrote his letters were very inspiring. I no longer practice writing graffiti and have taken on yarn as my new medium of choice. I wanted to create a piece about one of my biggest influences non-destructively.”
This was no easy task, as each passing train gave us merely seconds to line up the panels, all the while gauging the proper distance of camera to panel to train to achieve the desired proportions. Multiple attempts had to be made at several Brooklyn locations.
After much trial and error – coupled with some rare patience for the MTA’s labyrinthine weekend scheduling – success! With a little suspension of disbelief, the magic of Dondi on rolling stock is in the air…