As non-fungible forms of art rise in popularity, Dallas artists are riding the wave. Next month, Landmark Center will host an NFT pop-up gallery for two weekends.
The gallery, produced by Artist Uprising, will showcase a variety of digital works by Dallas artists Klarens Malluta, Magdiel Lopez, Michael Shellis and Temi Coker. Coker hails from Nigeria and immigrated with his family to the U.S. in 2004. In college, he initially studied biomedical engineering before directing his focus to digital media.
“I was exposed to photography, graphic design, web design, animation, printing, all those different things,” Coker says. “I had my focus on photography and design. That’s how my love for [digital media] got started.”
Since graduating from University of Houston, Coker has partnered with Apple, Google and HBO to create visual elements. With his art, he wants to represent various facets of the Black community.
“I create art that uplifts the people in my community,” Coker says, “for people that look like me, wanting to see my work and see themselves in it. It's very important that I represent our Blackness in my art.”
Very few people are certain about how NFTs work, but Coker explains that it's similar to the process of social media verification. The artwork attached to the non-fungible token can be replicated or imitated, however only people who purchased the token will posses the proof that they own the work.
“People think like they're buying the artwork, but you're really like buying a token of authenticity,” Coker says. "The best way I can explain an NFT is like on Twitter, how you have the verified checks for different users. And then you have other users that don't have to check. The verified check, you can see it in the blockchain. And so there's a way for people to trace back the actual creator, and then who bought it first, and then who bought it from that person."
Coker says that just as verified tweets remain in the blockchain, NFTs can always be traced back to their owner.
"Whereas in the real world, someone can screenshot your work and print it and hang in their house and say, ‘Yeah, I made this’ or ‘I got this from this person,'" he says.
With a mission to provide local artists with paid opportunities, as well as partnerships and connections with brands, the team at Artist Uprising was thrilled to discover new ways to collect art digitally. Even among people who aren’t entirely sure what an NFT is, Artist Uprising CEO Merrick Porchéddu is seeing the tokens create a “FOMO effect,” as everyone is wanting to jump on the craze.
When Porchéddu launched Artist Uprising in 2017, she sought out to eliminate the phrase “starving artist” from the vocabulary of local creators. She believes NFTs will allow artists new paths to financial success.
Several artists with whom Porchéddu works had previously mentioned NFTs. Earlier this year, she began receiving emails from artists and brands wanting to create and auction off some form of the tokens. Porchéddu took to learning about NFTs and spent four days watching videos and doing immersive research.
Over the course of the pandemic, many NFT auctions have taken place online, but Porchéddu wanted to change the game and educate people on NFTs in a fun, creative way.
“We had collectors that were trying to learn, ‘Hey, how do I get involved in this NFT world?’” Porchéddu says. “And so we just thought, what better way to kind of kick off an event that would help start educating people in general, specifically in Dallas, on what crypto or trading really means? Instead of having Zoom calls, we were like, ‘We should just make a party out of it.’”
The NFT Pop-Up Gallery will take place over the course of two Saturdays, at 7 p.m. on June 5 and June 12. The June 5 event will be open exclusively to artists and collectors who are already in the NFT world. They will be able to see the artwork on TVs, which will be on display vertically on the walls.
The June 12 event will be open to the general public, who will also be able to see the work, purchase food from food trucks and physical versions of some of the artwork. Like NFTs, the physical art will be sold via silent auction. Attendees will also be able to learn how the process of trading, purchasing and selling NFTs works.
“We feel like [Landmark Center] has an aesthetic that feels appropriate for an event like this,” Porchéddu says. “It's got an industrial and urban vibe. And with this event, we really want to highlight this disrupter brand of art.”
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