Artist Jaiye Farrell draws in viewers with intriguing multimedia works.
Artist Jaiye Farrell can trace his mark-making roots back to age 15, when he started decorating cookies and cakes for Johnnie’s Sweet Creations in southwest Oklahoma City. Piping icing designs inspired him to begin painting with lines, dots and curves at home. Although his media has evolved since then, his popular pattern play continues to this day. His works have garnered national attention, having appeared in events and exhibitions from coast to coast, and his murals enliven walls throughout Oklahoma.
Locally, Farrell’s artwork can be viewed inside Factory Obscura (25 NW 9th St., OKC; look for the pink stairs) and on the side of a grocery store at NE 23rd Street, near Martin Luther King Boulevard. You may also spot someone around town sporting his clothing line. We recently talked to Farrell about his unique approach to art and why he applies his signature patterns to all shapes and sizes.
Why is your work centered on mark-making?
I do it to transform objects and spaces around me and to create new experiences for people. Mark-making is kind of associated with ancient hieroglyphics, megaliths, archaeology. When I was younger, I felt like that’s where I would pull my wonder and curiosity from, and the more I’ve made this, the more I’ve heard other people communicate, “Oh, this reminds me of an ancient civilization.”
What kinds of experiences do you hope viewers have with your art?
I think I would hope for wonder, but sometimes I think it sparks reflection. When people stumble across the wall, and they stop to stare at it, like, “What’s going on here?” It’s that inner dialogue — getting people to pause, take a moment, or even maybe opening their perception or perspective a little more.
I think that’s why sometimes I lean into some of the pieces that look like they have an illusion effect or some kind of depth to them. That’s really me saying, “Look a little bit deeper. It’s not just a flat surface. There are more layers to this than might meet the eye.” So, yeah, I’m often thinking about self-reflection, perception, wonder and seeing what I can reveal to people through these fragments and these lines.
You’ve created paintings, murals, clothing pieces, body paintings and digital works. Why the variety?
Each medium seems to open up a new door to a new place and a new experience with new people. The exploration keeps the curiosity alive.
I feel like what I’m doing is taking something that can be as old as a cave painting or mark-making and bringing it into some of these new digital applications and new spaces, such as Factory Obscura. How do we take something from the past and remix it for the future?
How did you get into body painting?
I was live painting at a music festival here in OKC, and a lady ran up to me and was like, “Your art is so cool. Will you body paint me?” I thought that was so tight, because I was wanting to do this type of art. That was my very first experience body painting. And then I got my own studio, and I started having people come by and painting them with my backdrop. It’s taken me to interesting places — getting to participate in retreats with people, being the artist and body painting people for photo shoots.
What are you working on currently?
Right now, I’m exploring a lot of digital technologies and playing with text-to-prompt visuals with AI. I’m playing with augmented reality. A lot of those things have had me pretty inspired and curious, as far as experimenting and pushing into new spaces.