Even as the increase in atmospheric CO2 emissions threatens to burn its citizenry to a crisp — assuming they haven’t already drowned in the ever-encroaching Atlantic Ocean – Miami continues to attract world-class creative talent to its lush shores and scorching hot pavement. Despite Miami’s origins as a city of transience and travel, with people flitting in and out of it at a pace that would marvel even the most seasoned of cocaine cowboys, recent years have seen a paradigm shift in how the city is perceived by creatives the world over: it’s no longer a stop along the way, but rather, the destination.
Having built a coalition and realized class consciousness, Miami’s creative vanguard are now leading the charge to channel the city’s latent talent and rich culture into something tangible, affirming, and above all else, dope. Among those blazing the trail, visual artist Chris Pyrate stands out as one of the brightest. This weekend, Miamians will have the opportunity to acquaint themselves with Pyrate and his Ahumanfly brand during the unveiling of Pyrate’s new mural in addition to the opening of his Ahumanfly boutique on NW 45th Street.
Born in Washington, D.C. and having spent a significant amount of time in Brooklyn and Los Angeles, Pyrate is no stranger to the chaotic and fast-paced nature of metropolitan life. Before moving to Miami to advance his work as a muralist, Pyrate had already honed his skills as a graphic illustrator. With a hyper-detailed but stylized approach to linework, Pyrate’s art recalls that of beloved comic book artists Moebius and Frank Quitely. It’s appropriate, then, that he’s been published by the likes of indie comics titan Image Comics and sci-fi staple Heavy Metal.
“The two things I drew the most as a kid were animals – dinosaurs and fossils – and… schematics and blueprints to theme parks I wanted to make,” Pyrate shares. “So I feel like that lends a lot to where I go with my stuff now, with all of the little intricacies.”
The origins of Pyrate’s personal brand, project, and philosophy, Ahumanfly, lay in the period after Pyrate left school to focus more heavily on his art.
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“I had a lot of my time on my hands and I was getting introspective,” Pyrate recalls. “The concept of Ahumanfly is being a human fly on the wall; be subtle, be observant, be winged. It’s about the creative process of… being quiet or subtle enough that you don’t affect the room, that way you can observe it honestly.”
The honest expression at the heart of Pyrate’s work comes across in the different mediums he operates in, whether they be physical toys, wall-adorning murals or sequential stories. Reflecting on his journey as a multidisciplinary artist and his newfound role as a curator – Pyrate is also the creative director for the newly established 7th Ave Art District – it sounds as though Pyrate is looking to bring an approach of “think globally, act locally” to his role as an ambassador of Miami culture. Even when referring to Miami as an “international city,” Pyrate ultimately hopes to create permanent institutions for residents who proudly call MIA their home, rather than just those who know it as an exotic abbreviation.
“We’re trying to give permanent institutions that locals can count on,” Pyrate says. Although this effort will require direct initiatives like art walks and exciting influxes of talent, Pyrate sounds confident that Miami’s unique character can shine just as well on its own.
“Miami puts my mind to rest when I focus on my art. [Compared to New York and Los Angeles], there’s a lot going on but there’s also not a lot going on. There’s a lot of influences from other places, and I can intake when I want, rather than New York where you have to deal with [the craziness of the city], you have to confront it. I did a show in D.C. recently that I do once a year, and this time around people were really observing from my work that I live in Miami now... and it’s all on accident.”