Federico “IENA CRUZ” Massa was born in Milan, Italy in 1981. In 2006, he graduated with a degree in Set Design from The Academy of Fine Arts, Brera. A passion for graffiti was first evident in childhood, as he had a tendency to scribble his name all over the walls of his Milan apartment. A habit that, while not pleasing to his mother, set the stage for his life’s vocation in art. Inspired by California skateboard culture and brands like Santa Cruz, in the 1990s Massa took to the streets with the alias “CRUZ.” Tagging all over the streets of Milan, he grew to love the rebellious spirit of the graffiti world, especially the adrenaline rushes of painting on moving trains. Moving away from the graffiti style and into Street Art, he began using the symbol of a hyena (IENA). He related to its ability to appear laughing, no matter the circumstances. The alias “CRUZ” more frequently became “IENA CRUZ”. In 2002, Massa’s artistic career began to progress through his collaboration with “the bag art factory,” a collective of painters, sculptors and set designers. This was an eight-year project that provided him a solid place in the Milan art scene and the opportunity to explore working with mixed materials. His desire to understand better the international art world, specifically the street art scene, combined with a love of big cities, informed his move to New York City in 2010. He currently resides in Brooklyn. He is now a globally recognized muralist, contemporary artist and set designer. In the streets of Brooklyn’s rapidly changing Bushwick and Williamsburg neighborhoods, the public can see many of the large scale, colorful, technically layered murals that IENA CRUZ is known for internationally. Animals are often featured and represent his strong beliefs in conservation. A Latin aesthetic inspires many works, evolving from an interest in the culture, food and art of Mexico. He credits his first Brooklyn roommates with this development, a group of highly accomplished Mexican artists and filmmakers who gave him a place in their transplanted New York community.
He has participated in numerous group and solo exhibitions, distinguished projects and brand collaborations. In 2011, along with esteemed designers from Ferrari and Swarovski, he was selected to create a custom elephant installation for Elephant Parade Milan, a global arts exhibition to benefit the Asian Elephant Foundation. The elephants were later auctioned by Christie’s auction house. Other large-scale works have included the annual Bloop festival in Ibiza, Spain, in 2013 and the 2015 Audubon Mural Project, which garnered front-page notice in The New York Times. Notable among his brand collaborations was his commission to custom design 60 limited edition, handbags for luxury label Marc Jacobs for Paris Fashion Week. The bags quickly sold out at Paris’ historic Printemps department store. In 2016 IENA CRUZ created a large canvas for a group show he proposed to the Rockaway Artist Alliance, at the National Gateway Park, Fort Tilden, New York. The exhibition is in collaboration with MoMA PS1 and is part of an official celebration for the United States government’s National Parks Service centennial birthday.
IENA CRUZ’s art, both the murals and canvas works, fuses his skills as a large-scale painter and set designer, and evinces his love of nature, bold colors and decorative motifs. He plans to continue experimenting with these themes and techniques in evermore-complex artistic and commercial applications.
“Seeking to leverage my passion to use my art for a purpose to tackle climate change through sustainable mind set and method of production”. (www.ienacruz.com)
There are many awards and recognitions obtained by IENA CRUZ as there are countless exhibitions, collaborations with brands and installations that have determined its success at the international level, also paid tribute and underlined by prestigious newspapers. In this regard, for further information or collaboration, we invite you to visit his website.
AnthropOceano, is the name of the mural that IENA CRUZ created in Milan in 2019 and that we photographed.
The work was commissioned by Worldrise Onlus with the collaboration of the Ocean Family Foundation and North Sails to highlight the problem of plastic pollution in the ocean.
The work is composed entirely of Airlite anti-pollution paint.
It covers 230 square meters of a six-story building in the Lambrate district of Milan (Italy).
AnthropOceano is the second great mural by the artist IENA CRUZ, in which the environmental component is not only aimed at moving our consciences but is able (specifically), to reduce the presence of nitrogen dioxide in the air by almost 90 percent thanks to the use of Airlite painting.
“The name of this mural is AnthropOceano, a word invented by me, but deriving from a real word: Anthropocene”, says IENA CRUZ. “It is a very important word that characterizes all of us because it is the geological age in which we are unfortunately living. The image on the facade of the building tells of our impact on the sea: an oil platform is located inside a plastic container that in turn traps the marine ecosystem represented by some of its most fascinating creatures. There are several projects in sight. Italy is reacting well to these issues and to this innovative technology. I am very happy to be back in my hometown, in Milan, in areas like Lambrate where I started taking my first steps with my graffiti. For me it also has a sentimental importance."
Gabriella Ruggieri for 1blog4u
Visit the Gallery ph. Vaifro Minoretti
-Federico Massa alias Iena Cruz: www.ienacruz.com
-Worldrise Onlus: www.worldrise.org
-Ocean Family Foundation: www.oceanfamilyfoundation.org
-North Sails: www.northsails.com