Get lost in a vivid world of color with the MASS District’s Art Equals Health, a public art series focused on outdoor mobility and well-being. Blank sidewalks leading the way to local eateries, businesses, and bars are long gone; the up-and-coming arts neighborhood is now awash in vibrant hues painted by Yana Bannikova, who is behind Artrise, a collective organization that supports the rise of public art, culture, and community to empower neighborhoods. “It’s so critical for all of us to be conscious of how important health is and how we cannot take it for granted,” says Bannikova. “Art has always made me feel healthy.”
The idea behind the initiative, she says, came from the desire to bring people outdoors, encourage positive emotions through bright colors, and promote the importance of mental and physical health. The walkable, self-guided tour leads locals to view some of the city’s most engaging outdoor art, including a new gradient mural Bannikova created in the parking lot behind The Hub Spark. The next stage in planning will expand past the MASS District toward surrounding neighborhoods in Fort Lauderdale and include works by Ernesto Maranje, Fabio Onrack, and Ruben Ubiera, among others.
Originally from Russia, Yana Bannikova (also known as Orla Ananda) is a multidisciplinary artist who lived in New York City for 12 years, during which time she worked for multiple art institutions and as a fashion photographer and graphic designer. After a stint in Mexico, she moved to Fort Lauderdale in 2018 and “instantly fell in love with the city’s creative community and overall culture,” she says. Some of her new work graces the facades of Sistrunk Marketplace and Rhythm & Vine, though her portfolio is endless. Through her collective, Artrise, she’s able to generate public art installations, help artists in their careers, empower communities, and more. “No matter where I lived, art always found its way to my life,” she shares. “At this point, I don’t see myself doing anything else.”
FLI: You launched Artrise in early 2020. What’s its goal?
Bannikova: We are focused on activating neighborhoods and connecting communities through public art, meaningful events, and local solutions. Artrise exists to serve as a catalyst to help developing neighborhoods further emerge through public art and events while driving commerce and revenue for local businesses and real estate development. Artrise was born to generate beautified spaces with ease, give artists a platform to build their careers, help businesses thrive, enable communities to tell their stories with local artists, and let every street, neighborhood, and community be a place where we feel safe and inspired.
What do you see as the importance of art in public places?
Public art has an incredible ability to transform public spaces. [It] adds meaningful value to the cultural, aesthetic, and economic vitality of a neighborhood, and contributes to a community’s identity, fosters a sense of belonging, and enhances the quality of life for its residents and visitors.
What do you have planned in the coming months and beyond?
We will continue our ongoing collaborations with the MASS District and Art Equals Health. We are starting a new building in early 2021 in Progresso Park. In addition, I am personally doing a lot of painting and Orla Ananda artwork over the next few months. So far, our calendar is full through February, but who knows, we are getting more and more inquiries for public art every week.