Metro Art has a new digital art series, and the inaugural exhibition is now on view at all open Blue Line stations. More People Than You Know features portraits of transit patrons created by local artists. To celebrate the upcoming re-opening of the refurbished rail line, we are featuring an interview with each of the commissioned artists. Make sure you look for these portraits displayed on the newly installed digital customer information panels. This is Metro’s first transit corridor with this new cultural amenity.
LP Ǽkili Ross – Interview – Thursday, August 8, 2019
Lives in Irvine, California
LP Ǽkili Ross spoke with Metro Arts & Design about his art practice from his great uncle’s business in Compton.
How did you approach the More People Than You Know portrait? What were your ideas?
I wanted to focus on the idea of independence. When you travel, you are a lone traveler; people are usually on their own trip. In the portrait, my wife Misha is a traveler on her own journey on the Blue Line and appears to be either daydreaming or enjoying the scenery. I want people see themselves in and connect with my portrait. When I pick my subject, I like to choose someone close to me. The portrait is a digital collage with over 250 layers of different images and colors. If I could do this project over again, I would have added sun rays going through the train and buildings in the background, creating a transcendental moment. I believe that we are the manifestations of our environment.
How would you describe the art you make and how did you get started?
I have only and always been an artist. I come from a family of artists who excelled in different creative fields: cinema, music, visual arts. I attended Pasadena City College, focusing on illustration, graphic design, drafting, and digital media. After PCC, I established my own business. I now work in graphic design, photography, cinematography, and fashion. I do what I call digital stencil collage, which is what I did for the Metro portrait.
I have met incredible people who have really helped me evolve as an artist. My mentors are Bernard Hoyes, Charles Bibbs, George Evans, Omar Holguin, Jimmy O’Balles, Riea Owens, Rhonda Mitchell, Casey Bernay, DeWayne Copeland and also my parents, Bart and Valeri Ross, to name just a few. Without these people in my life, I wouldn’t be the artist I am today.
Where do you live and work? What is your connection to the Blue Line?
I was born in San Francisco but lived in Zimbabwe for two years. My family and I then moved to Pasadena. I currently live and work in Irvine, but my roots are in the greater Los Angeles area. My Uncle has a store in Compton and one of my mentors, George Evans, has been teaching at LA Trade Technical College (LATTC) for over twenty years.
For this Metro project, I explored the different neighborhoods along the transit corridor and also took the light rail train with my wife, Misha. We wanted to experience riding Metro. I took photographs of Misha as a traveler on the train; she’s the subject.