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Queens Chronicle

Kente cloth pattern transforms truck

Andrea Bergart colorfies equipment

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Posted: Thursday, July 11, 2013 10:30 am

Ridgewood artist Andrea Bergart recently completed her newest peice of street art by turning a cement truck into a living, swirling, brightly colored African bead.

The project, funded by the Queens Council on the Arts, was her second painting gig for Brooklyn-based cement company United Transit Mix. It took a team of four artists three days.

This time around Bergart took her inspiration from her time living in Ghana’s biggest bead-trading town, the documentary “Style Wars,” a film about graffiti-covered trains and the “Razzle Dazzle” camouflage used by the British and U.S. navies on their ships during the world wars to confuse enemies to create her kente cloth pattern design.

In Ghanaian culture weavers reference social, religious and cultural themes with each changing design for kente cloths.

Bergart’s kente cloth isn’t as technical — “because I’m not a Ghanaian weaver,” she said with a laugh — but instead tries to capture the celebratory feel of the patterns.

One United driver said the truck looks like the United Nations.

“That’s perfect,” Bergart said. “That’s exactly what I wanted to hear because I’m referencing a lot of cultures.”

The background of the pattern subtly changes from green, to blue, purple and lilac on a diagonal to give it movement.

In the middle is the kente cloth pattern — a solid sunflower-yellow diamond that stair steps in. On top of the shape sits a bunch of squares and jagged diamonds of many colors.

“I wanted colors that would separate it from other trucks that have a lot of blue, red and white branding of United,” Bergart said.

The truck goes out in the world several times a week — 70 percent of the time to Manhattan — bringing a healthy dose of color to the sometimes gray urban landscape.

Gold, blue, black, red, purple and aqua all make an appearance.

“The metallic is really beautiful when the water hits it,” she said.

But no hot pink this time.

The last truck looked much more feminine with a pink, blue and yellow leopard print design.

“It’s like that’s the girl and this one’s the guy,” she said.

Simon Biswas videotaped the project, which can be viewed at vimeo.com/69339853.

Welcome to the discussion.