Novy’s most-established series of koi fish references propaganda posters and anti-authoritarian symbols in Chinese art under communism. Koi traditionally symbolize the lessons and trials people often encounter in life and, as koi are able to swim against the current and travel upstream, represent resilience. The quantity of koi depicted corresponds to its meaning in Chinese numerology. On a personal note, Novy is especially drawn to koi because he says he looks like one. After considering removing a birthmark on his forehead, his aunt explained to him that what makes koi so beautiful and unique is their individual markings. Novy adopted the koi as his power animal and began stenciling this signature image on sidewalks around the US in 2006.
About the Artist
Jeremy Novy (b. 1979) is a California-based street artist known for his stencils of koi fish and efforts in support of gay activism. Novy’s stencil art is remarkably complex for its compositional simplicity. A champion of LGBTQ iconography, Novy depicts often underrepresented subjects to promote awareness and acceptance of multiplicity and modern identity. Novy stencils sociopolitical works in public spaces to democratize the process of viewing art and to beautify urban blight and unused spaces. His medium primarily consists of spray paint and a stencil which allows for speedy application and uniformity. Novy holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee and an Associate Degree in Graphic Design from Gateway Technical College in Elkhorn, WI. Novy received funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and the San Francisco Arts Commission to curate the first major exhibition of its kind, “A History of Queer Street Art,” which premiered in San Francisco, Los Angeles and at Yale University in 2011.