12ozProphet Presents Hot Tea’s “Asylum”

By - Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

Back in the blazing heat of August in New York City, the 12oz crew made a trip to Roosevelt Island to Manhattan Park where street artist Hot Tea created a large-scale, inverted version of his signature technicolor yarn installations. The pool is a private, community staple on Roosevelt Island and as you can imagine, it’s seen tremendous increases in press since the installation was completed back in May. Manhattan Park was entirely redecorated following Hot Tea’s technicolor makeover – neon-colored hammocks and chairs line the perimeter of the pool. The views from the pool to Manhattan are insane – but seeing the rainbow-laden project from 50+ feet above the ground is just as stunning. We geared up with a drone and a GoPro camera, ready to capture the project above and below the water. 

We met up with Hot Tea early on a Saturday afternoon to catch the sunlight hitting the color gradients sprawled across the area of the pool (Hot Tea also painted the bottom of the pool). Before jumping into the pool, we needed to work up a sweat. The temperature was in the tepid 70s, and kids running around the pool, squirting water guns and slapping noodles onto the surface of the water presented a bit of an audio problem. So we took all of our equipment and climbed to the roof. It was on the roof of Manhattan Park that we felt the real aesthetic arrest of “Asylum.”

The project’s name is both a tribute to an actual 19th century insane asylum that was located on Roosevelt Island, and as Hot Tea’s personal reminder of the grueling labor, mental and physical endurance needed to complete the project.

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And, if a technicolor pool doesn’t already make your brain’s emotional synapses fire, it was also chosen as one of the settings for Jamie xx‘s recently released video for the single “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)” featuring Young Thug and Popcaan. The pool as a setting for the single off of In Colour is a match made in rainbow glory.

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Though the Minneapolis-born artist has his roots in graffiti, his work and focus have shifted and evolved passed the spray can. His yarn installations are playful and inviting. They aim to evoke questions about surroundings, color, light and space. Hot Tea’s installations can be categorized as “non-destructive,” they’re easy to remove and do no damage to property. They’re the kind of environmental embellishment that can be enjoyed by people of all ages.

Though his contemporary work is PG, he has experience in the less than wholesome life of a graffiti writer. When we asked Hot Tea about his personal connection to 12ozProphet, he told us about his childhood in Minneapolis and the friend that introduced him to graffiti. For Hot Tea, and plenty of other graffheads whose DOB precedes 1990, our first ever zine, 12ozProphet Issue #1, is a graffiti bible.

You can visit Manhattan Park and see the project up close and personal, though you’ll need to purchase a day pass. The weather in New York City is about to take a nosedive, so if you have a weekend to visit, now’s the time. Check the video above to see the finished product and to hear more about Hot Tea and the making of “Asylum.”

Directed and produced by Wil Suarez (MosaicNewYork)

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