Ricky Lee Gordon, who also paints under the moniker of Freddy Sam, is a Cape Town, South Africa based artist focused on bringing to light social issues with his large scale murals. “My intention with this and all my murals is to create an artwork that has meaning to the community who will live with the mural,” Gordon writes at his blog. He is also known for his curatorial work and creative activism, notably as the co-founder of Colour Ikamva, an art outreach program designed to re-imagine education through creativity and self-empowerment.
“Everything is interconnected”, Río San Juan, Dominican Republic 2015
Phoenix, Arizona 2016
Gordon shares that his goal as an artist is to create imagery that anyone can appreciate, no matter their background or where they come from- “we all suffer from the same things, and we all feel joyful about the same things,” he says. Most of his murals take several days to complete, with regards to the amount of detail in each; semi-photo realistic images of figures and animals, often “cut off” or spliced with lines of poetry in relation to the work’s theme. Gordon’s work touches upon subjects like our inter-connectivity and also destruction of nature, as in his recent piece painted in Phoenix, Arizona, or the future of our children, as in his portrait of two boys contemplating their lives as fishermen in his mural painted for Walk & Talk public art festival in Azores, Portugal. To date, he has painted murals all over the world in the United States, Europe, Dominican Republic, and around his native Africa.
Mural painted for Walk & Talk public art festival, Azores, Portugal
Gordon’s most recently completed mural is located in Downtown Oakland, California, portraying half a boy’s face, the other half a poem that reads: “I am human through the reflection of your humanity back at me.” Gordon explains, “This mural deals with the inequality and hatred our world is absorbed in. Our history and present is full of apartheid, bias, bigotry, discrimination, one-sidedness, racialism, sectarianism, segregation and unfairness. When will we learn we are all just one? We cannot be human alone. Everything is connected, we are not just brothers and sisters, we are one and the same. I am you and you are me. The suffering of all and the joy of all belongs to all. When our flags fall our hearts will connect. May all be be happy and may all be free from suffering.” The mural is located at 21st and Franklin and Broadway St. in Downtown Oakland.