Nexus Podcast | May 1, 2021

Rob Problak Gibbs

Season 2, Episode 3: Rob Problak Gibbs details how his origins as a graffiti writer and practice as a muralist have shaped the ways in which he engages with his community through the built environment.

Rob Problak Gibbs

Rob Problak Gibbs. Photo courtesy of Artists for Humanity.

Breathe Life 2
Rob “ProBlak” Gibbs working on “Breathe Life 2” at Madison Park Technical Vocational High School. Photo by G. Ortiz Photography, courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston via WGBH.org.

Overview

Rob Problak Gibbs has been involved in graffiti writing since he was an early teenager. He expanded this interest into creating large-scale murals which take the form of visual love letters to his community. Beyond his personal art practice, Gibbs details the origins of his work as a community activist, organizer and mentor through his non-profit organization Artists for Humanity, which hires and teaches local youth creative skills.

Full Transcript

About Rob Problak Gibbs

Rob “ProBlak” Gibbs is a visual artist and organizer who has transformed the cultural landscape of Boston through graffiti art since the early 90’s. Gibbs grew up in Roxbury, Massachusetts during the Hip-Hop Golden Age and was in his teens when he found that the power of graffiti was a powerful form of self-expression.

In 1991, Gibbs co-founded Artists for Humanity (AFH), an arts non-profit that hires and teaches youth creative skills, ranging from painting to screen printing to 3-D model making. For the past 29 years, ProBlak has served in many leadership roles at AFH and currently directs the Paint Studio.

ProBlak has a strong focus on arts education. He has been an adjunct educator for Boston Public Schools, conducted countless workshops, and is a formal and informal mentor to artists who are early and mid- career. Most recently Rob served as a guest lecturer at Northeastern University for their “Foundations of Black Culture: Hip-Hop” course, curated the 2019 BAMS Fest’s “Rep Your City” exhibition and was invited to be one of two Artists-in-Residence with the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston making his, the inaugural residency

How to Listen

You can listen to all available episodes and find program notes here on our website, or subscribe to the series via one of these providers: iTunes, GoogleSpotify, iHeartRadio, Stitcher.

About the Show

Developed by the African American Design Nexus at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, The Nexus is a podcast that explores the intersection of design, identity, and practice through conversations with Black designers, writers and educators. The Nexus is produced in conjunction with a commitment by the Frances Loeb Library to acquire and create an open-access bibliography of various media suggested by the GSD community on the intersection between race and design.

Show Credits

The Nexus Season 2 is hosted by Tara Oluwafemi and Darien Carr, students in the Master of Architecture program at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. The show is recorded and edited by Maggie Janik, and the theme music is produced by DJ Eway.

Contact

For all inquiries, please email aadn@gsd.harvard.edu.