Sonny Launches International Tour of His “To the Bone” Project on Manhattan’s Lower East Side

July 5, 2017

Based in Johannesburg, UK native Sonny recently brought his extraordinary talents and passion for animals to NYC. I had the opportunity to speak to him when he took a brief break from painting a massive mural overlooking Allen Street on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

What brought you to NYC?

I am here to launch my first mural in North America for the To the Bone project in partnership with IFAW, the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

What is the mission of the To the Bone project?

It utilizes street art to increase awareness of animal conservation and to raise funds to rescue animals in crisis throughout the globe.

sonny-sundancer-mural-close-up

What spurred your engagement in the project?

Living in South Africa surrounded by animals, I developed a passion for them. And painting them on huge murals is a positive way for me to do street art and pay tribute to the beauty of these animals, while raising attention to their plight.

Where else will this project be taking you?

In the weeks ahead, I will be painting in Canada, Russia and in India.

What are some of the other animals represented in the To the Bone Project?

Among them are a rhino, a leopard, an elephant, a bear and a gorilla.  There will be a total of ten, with the gorilla the face of an upcoming exhibition in London.

sonny-sundancer-paint-spray-cans

You’ve also painted several canvases and released prints in coordination with this project.

Yes. The original artwork will be exhibited and auctioned off, with prints of the works available online — with 10% of sales donated to South Africa landscape work and IFAW’s work with tigers in Russia. Among the original works are hand-painted skull replicas that showcase endangered animals from around the world. These paintings show the animals’ faces breaking away to reveal the raw skeletons underneath, symbolic of how these beautiful creatures are quickly fading away.

Can you tell us something about the patterns that adorn your works? 

They are tribal patterns from the animals’ countries of origin. When we lose these animals, we’re losing a part of our heritage too. That is the message conveyed by these distinct patterns.

Sonny-Sundancer-mural-art-Jelani- Johannesburg

Your murals are stunning. Have you a formal art education?

No. I’m self-taught. I painted my first large-scale mural three years ago.

That’s quite impressive! Are there any muralists out there who have inspired you?

Among these whose works have inspired me are Case Maclaim and Faith47.

Sonny-Sundancer-mural-art-canada

How can folks support your project?

They can visit our website to learn more about the To the Bone project and buy artwork. And they can help us raise money for the IFAW, the International Fund for Animal Welfare by donating here.

Good luck with your project.  And we are thrilled that you launched the international tour of To the Bone here in NYC.

Images:

1-3 New York Lion

4  Jelani, Johannesburg

5 Grizzly Bear, Cambridge Street Art Festival, Ontaria

Photo credits: 1 Lois Stavsky; 2 & 3 Karin du Maire; 4 & 5 courtesy Tess Cunliffe

Note: Hailed in a range of media from WideWalls to the Huffington Post to the New York Times, our Street Art NYC App is now available for Android devices here.

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