Black History Month is nearing a close and several companies have produced a bevy of content centered on the achievements and accomplishments of Black people the world over. Gabe Gault, a rising muralist, joined forces with Meta for the company’s newly-launched Metaverse Culture Series with an innovative art piece titled “I Am A Man,” signifying the importance of the annual recognition.
CASSIUSLIFE had the pleasure of speaking with Gault from his home in California, who shared the inspiration behind the “I Am A Man” piece, what he hopes the work will inspire in others, and his aims going forward as an artist across a variety of mediums. We opened the chat by asking Gault how he was introduced to the Metaverse Culture Series initiative and what it means for his career going forward.
“Meta hit me up on Instagram to do this Metaverse Culture Series and it’s been a pretty awesome time just creating and making an experience,” Gault began. “I wanted to create an experience for Black History Month that would feel like a walk into a museum and place to interact with others inside the environment.”
For context, Meta, via its Meta Quest platform, created the Horizon Worlds social space where users can connect, interact, perform tasks in unison, and much more within the sprawling and still developing metaverse.
“I thought it was important that my contribution to the Culture Series would pay homage to these Black historians who help guide us,” Gault stated.
Gault is more than just a muralist and works in various art mediums but we wanted to know how creating in the metaverse compares with his usual approach.
“Obviously in the real world, working as a muralist, you have a 2D surface on a 3D wall but it’s still a 2D flat image at the end of the day,” Gault explains. “You can still use those 2D images in the virtual world or you can create a whole experience as we did with Meta, creating this 3D immersive experience. There are some similarities. There’s a lot of problem-solving, and at the end of the day, it’s really just about getting your message across.”
Gault’s piece is aptly titled “I Am A Man,” using the familiar slogan popularized most notably during the Memphis sanitation strike of 1968 which historians say paved a way for the assassination of famed civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
Gault uses inspiration from those stirring images of the protest for “I Am A Man,” along with a depiction of the Lorraine Hotel where King was shot by a lone gunman as he prepared to head to dinner. Today, the Lorraine Hotel serves as the site of the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. Gault broke down what he hopes the piece sparks in the minds of those who engage the work.
“I feel that this is a chance for Black people in the metaverse to emerge and share their voices similar to how we’ve reacted across history,” Gault said with assuredness. “I feel like this is the next step forward for us to be able to jump in on that next wave of innovation and technology while being behind the scenes. This is the next way for us to use art and technology for expression much like our forefathers.”
As a native of Los Angeles and currently a resident of San Fernando Valley, we wanted to know if Gault’s California upbringing ever makes its way into his works.
“I grew up in Venice Beach and it’s a big mix of music and art, especially on the boardwalk with the graffiti and murals or someone playing music for money. I got to see a lot of creativity growing up and it led to me becoming a creative artist myself,” Gault fondly expressed.
Gault doesn’t intend to rest on the wave of success he’s experiencing with the Metaverse Culture Series release. He shared that his work as a traditional artist remains just as paramount to works he’ll create in virtual reality, including work on the Glass City River Wall in Toledo, Ohio which will be the largest in the United States upon completion.
As we concluded our discussion, Gault was clear that his intention as an artist is to continue to push the limits of his creativity while ensuring that the work leaves the impression it was designed for.
“I want people to have core memories of this stuff. That’s where I’m headed. I don’t have a specific goal in mind that will make it seem as if I made it, but I have several checkmarks of where I want to be,” Gault said. “I don’t want my art to look like it does now 10 years from now but it will always have symbolism and a message.”
To learn more about the year-long Metaverse Culture Series, click here.
For more about Gabe Gault, click here.
Meta Quest users in North America can view the “I Am A Man” from Feb. 22-28 between 8 AM and 10 PM PST.