newest interview click here

NPR (National Public Radio)

KWMU 90.7 9/13/02

St. Louis Art Fair - "Freedom of Expression" by Hillary Wicai

Tolentino: Art Fair St. Louis was looking for a graffiti style artist or somebody with I guess a pop art type feeling about their artwork. Something that would be kind of blatant and very "in your face" type of feel. Something that could be done in public and that would get finished. The work that I do and my style that I use its pretty fast.

Wicai: Can you describe your style a little bit?

Tolentino: Its graffiti based. I mean, I started writing graffiti when I was probably in 9th grade and high school and since them my style its evolved and changed from just scrawling on the walls all the way to like really clean lines, pop art, faces, and other iconography.

Wicai: Why do you like using this style?

Tolentino: Doesnt hold anything back, there is no questions about what Im trying to go at as far as meaning and conceptually based ideas, its very blatant, its in your face.

Wicai: Why do you think thats the best style to do a community art piece capturing the communities responses about 9/11?

Tolentino: It needs to be kind of a grass roots feeling, it needs to be homey because its about the entire nation and individuals as a person they need to have their own voice and I think graffiti style is a very nice way for it to be put out there. I mean, it doesnt have to be really nicely illustrated, it just needs to be out there.

Wicai: So describe how this is going to work. Youre going to be at Forsyth and Central and youre just going to have big panels in front of you?

Tolentino: Yeah, Im going to have these four panels and Ill have a couple of tables around me where people can come up and write their emotions, thought, ideas pretty much any type of statement they want to write or actually draw whatever on these pieces of paper and Im going to incorporate them, read them, if I feel its necessary and try and translate what they wrote into a graphic image that I portray and those actual images and whatever they write will actually be incorporated in the piece, so theyll be collaged on. So every person that writes something down it will be into the paint and underneath the paint and on paper.

Wicai: Do you have some images already in your mind that youre going to start out with to get the ball rolling or are you just going to wait to be inspired when youre out there?

Tolentino: For the most part, Im going to be inspired when Im out there. Thats the way a lot of my artwork is, its just spontaneous and its derived from a specific emotion, idea, time, place and when it comes out, it just it does and I think its very conducive to this wall and how the emotions and feelings about 9/11 and that stuff will work well within it,

Wicai: Why do you think having a community response through art is an appropriate way to deal with our feelings surrounding 9/11?

Tolentino: I think everyone needs an outlet. I know I need an outlet everyday! Everybody I think needs a voice and I think if they were to have a venue to do it creatively, I think an open-ended creative outlet for people to put themselves out there, its good for everybody.

Wicai: In your minds eye how different would it have looked if you would have done something like this immediately following 9/11 and how different is it going to look a year after 9/11.

Tolentino: I think if I were to do it like directly the day after I woke up in like some hotel in Memphis and was looking at the news that my paint strokes would have been really violent, but I think itll be a little more subdued, a little more controlled as far as the imagery I portray.

Wicai: So do you think this represents a bit of healing thats going on in the past year?

Tolentino: Yes, definitely it will represent a lot of healing and a lot of thought over what had happened and definitely healing.