Skyler Grey, also referred to as the “Fresh Prince of Street Art,” is taking over Miami’s growing art world. On view at Avant Gallery inside the Aventura Mall, his creative works mash up popular icons like Pinocchio and Mickey Mouse with iconography, while his sculptures and paintings mirror the city’s effervescent sunshine, people, and personality. The 22-year-old hails from Los Angeles and has become one of South Florida’s most prodigious Pop artists. He signed with Avant at 14, and at 17, his work was shown internationally in Dubai and at Art Basel in Switzerland. From infusing powerful social commentary into large-scale, three-dimensional resin sculptures to combining trends that are often at odds, Grey reimagines art and pop culture. Here, he chats about showcasing international works, his new series, and more.
AVM: Tell us about your new series, America the Beautiful.
Grey: The series was my gut reaction to what was going on in America and in the world because of COVID-19. I wanted to give my audience a story from a different lens, instead of the lovely mask paintings I was seeing. I wanted to walk the viewer through the life of “America” in the form of classic superheroes. Each painting is an emotion or compromised position.
How have Black artists become more visible in the contemporary art world today?
The internet and the rise of Instagram have broken the traditional art market. I know so many Black artists with no representation that are making a good living on direct-to-consumer marketing. We have been historically left out of this field, and the revolution is now [being] televised on the internet, specifically Instagram. I don’t think 100,000 people knew about [Jean-Michel] Basquiat when he was alive, but I have over that amount [of followers] on Instagram. It’s a new day of social power with a global, expanding reach.
As the “Fresh Prince of Street Art,” what do you bring to the world of art?
I feel that as one of the few prominent Black Pop artists in the United States and the youngest at 22, I bring a different energy. When I got my shot with Avant Gallery from literally beating the streets and making a way guided by my father, I never looked back. Dmitry [Prut] from Avant believed in our vision, and I went to work for years creating art until I got to where I am at today. But success is something that comes and goes; maintaining it is [the] challenging part. It’s a challenge that I wake up every day and embrace.