Myron Laban atop the Windy Shoulders
"I realized, you really need a team. It just makes so much sense...you need people to help you out."
Underneath the pale shades of blue and green light, with his black framed glasses and bearded smile, Myron Laban engaged in conversation over the backdrop of old friends and great music. Like the handfuls of designers, musicians, and industry folks lining the room of Legit’s Maudlin release party, Myron spent the night sharing his goals and aspirations for the months to come. A visual artist himself, Myron’s excitement for his upcoming gallery show in May, could be seen through his radiant smile a mile away. The show was a good six months out but by the time Myron left, he was prepared for the work ahead.
Growing up in Des Plaines, IL Myron began taking art more seriously after entering high school. Back then there wasn’t so much a method to the creation, and as time went on Myron found himself intrigued by capturing a person’s physical features. Now 23 years old, his habitual balancing act of school, work, and a full time art career has been going strong for the past six years—most of which Myron’s been juggling weekly, traveling between Des Plaines and Chicago. Enchanted by the many people he’d come across riding public transportation, Myron birthed The CTA Project. It’s a concept where Myron’s cheerful warmth and conversation shines but also brews the direction of his art in real time.“It’s kind of like social art, where I’ll go out and interview people and incorporate that into my painting. So the CTA project is merging those social aspects with the people around you, into the art, via painting, film, and music.”
In the most recent installment of Myron’s CTA Project, he took to the buses and trains armed with supplies and a question,“I believe every person is their own universe, their own world...So, how do I access these backgrounds, these experiences? I figured asking everyone about something they're most proud of was a good way to approach that.” The more conversations with stangers and fellow riders, the more Myron found ways to channel these encounters. And With the help of his friends at REVIVE, Myron’s been documenting his progress along the way.
Surveying those around him through The CTA Project turned Myron’s exploration into warm, candid strokes of art. A showcase filled with people of different backstories and trials, distinct features and hues. The paintings themselves embody a texture similar to the Harlem Renaissance’s Archibald Motley or Lois Mailou Jones. But in terms of inspiration, Myron’s stems from the windier renaissance many have lain witness to the past handful of years. Chicago artists like Hebru Brantley, JC Rivera, Matthew Hoffman, are a running sense of motivation for Myron. They've been a source of energy, one focused on stabling a platform, a plateau Myron’s better overcome as of 2018, “I’d say the past year I’ve really honed in on a clear direction. As opposed to last year and the year before, when I was just creating to create.”
Leaning into the new year with more of a blueprint surrounding his art adjusted Myron’s yearn for being a respected artist. “This year, I decided I was going to make a brand, something that has significance that can help other people. I believe if you have a platform, it should be able to provide your audience with value. And that’s sort of the approach I took with UPLIFT.”
A large sturdy figure braving the way, supporting a smaller one atop it’s shoulders—sometimes holding a little sign or pointing toward the road ahead. These images represent Myron’s latest campaign, UPLIFT, a brand inspired by overcoming the struggles of chasing his aspirations with help from the people around him. Situations Myron has faced gracefully whilst studying to be a pharmacist at UIC, “The struggle isn’t based on my aspiration to be an artist, but overcoming personal obstacles and battles I've faced in my life. It stems from those hard times, but as long as you keep pushing through things get better. ”
What’s most interesting about UPLIFT is how it transfers the same question Myron posed to others in The CTA Project, onto himself. UPLIFT is his response to the world, a representation of what of he's most proud of - giving back to the ones they've helped along the way. “I realized, you really need a team. It just makes so much sense...you need people to help you out.” Uplifted with the advice and opportunities from others like Social Works founder Justin Cunningham, and REVIVE, Myron’s concentrated rollout has lead up to his biggest moment yet. And it’s just over the horizon.
Myron’s hard work has gone far from unnoticed, especially so when taking a stroll near Milwaukee and Western where his UPLIFT mural stands bright and tall. If you missed Myron on WGN News yesterday morning, he’ll be in full swing at the YO:U salon-gallery in Wicker tonight, from 7-10pm. Accompanied by the CTA sensation Slim Freedom, Ayanna Woods and Noah Chris, Myron will be showcasing both The CTA Project and UPLIFT side by side. Following suite much like the Chicago artists he looks to for motivation, Myron looks to UPLIFT his windy community for years to come.