Artist Profile: RH DOAZ
Clifton, Passaic County
Growing up in New Brunswick, RH DOAZ (b.1978) spent much of his youth in his grandparents’ nearby home. There he became acquainted with Hungarian folk art patterns, particularly those on textiles. And on his train trips into Manhattan, he was riveted by the graffiti he saw along the Northeast Corridor train line. “I saw a different crew at every stop,” he recalls. “I was mesmerized.”
His distinct aesthetic clearly reflects these disparate influences. Like so many others, DOAZ began making his public mark with a tag. He also tried his hand at graffiti. “But I wasn’t good at lettering,” he confesses.
Other inspirations, however, went on to impact RH DOAZ’s distinctive, playfully elegant aesthetic that encompasses everything from stickers to huge murals. The skateboard culture that engaged him while hanging out along the Brooklyn Banks skatepark sparked his passion for sticker art. And the handmade posters advertising underground basement shows that he passed regularly in New Brunswick triggered his fervor for illustration.
DOAZ also credits artists Shepard Fairey and Michael DeFeo among his influences. “I was struck by Fairey’s iconic Obey Giant image that seemed to surface everywhere and by the simplicity of DeFeo’s flower image that started to emerge on public spaces back in the 90s,” he states.
Better-identified these days with the birds that he fashions both on the streets and in his studio, DOAZ has forged an aesthetic that is both fanciful and meditative, as it comments on life’s imperfections amidst its natural beauty. His work captivates with striking patterns, contrasting colors, and bold outlines.
Reflecting on the relationship between his street art and his studio work, DOAZ states, “I’m more willing to experiment with patterns and palettes on the streets, and this experimentation has impacted my studio work.” And as a colorblind artist, he has perfected the use of stark contrast. “I need to work with colors that strongly contrast one another with bold black outlines,” he explains.
DOAZ has also turned his masterly skills to reworking salvaged pieces of wood into a wide range of assemblages. Some can be seen bolted onto posts in public spaces, while others find a temporary home in galleries before finding a permanent one among collectors.
Among DOAZ’s recent public art works is an alluring series of murals honoring the late educator Alice Jennings Archibald, the first Black woman to graduate from Rutgers University, on all four sides of a building in Alice Jennings Archibald Park in New Brunswick.
RH DOAZ is a featured artist in On and Off the Streets: Urban Art New Jersey.
RH DOAZ, Puffin White Owls, Aerosol, 2021, 13 ½’ x 20’. Photo courtesy Rachel Fawn Alban