Portlander Shawna X Is Painting Mini Cooper Rooftops for Public Consumption

Catch her latest work on a Coop, a building just north of the Moda Center, or at two different spots in the Big Apple.

By Cami Hughes November 10, 2021

Shawna X's new mural on the roof of a Mini Cooper

Image: Courtesy MINI

On October 28—National Immigrants Day—Mini Cooper revealed a limited edition collection of custom car rooftops designed by first-generation American artists, including one with Portland roots: Shawna X. 

Shawna X was born in Xiamen, China and immigrated to Portland when she was eight years old to join her parents. Her art draws heavily on the struggles inherent to starting over in new environments. It features bright colors and abstract figures and spreads across multiple mediums, including digital illustrations and physical installations like murals and inflatable sculptures. X has worked with big names including Nike, Square Space, the New Yorker, and Google, before being selected to participate in the MINI initiative.

To reflect her experiences, X's art for the project includes brightly colored pathways strewn with human figures, which represent the physical, mental, and emotional roads that immigrants walk in their transition between places.

Shawna X’s mural design for MINI's National Immigrants Day initiative

Image: Courtesy MINI

“I want to talk about the different roads and paths that we've taken in life,” she says—particularly the roads immigrants take.  “Learning your culture, and learning a new language, and just all the nuances of existing as someone that's different.” The human figures are meant to “really drill on that notion that these are human experiences, and we are all connected in some way.” 

In the project, X is joined by two other artists: Rich Tu and Shane “Grif” Griffen, who are also first generation immigrations from the Philippines and Ireland, respectively. 

The physical rooftops will be sold for a limited time as Mini Cooper customization options (check them all out here), but anyone can view Shawna X’s piece between November 8 and the end of the month at the corner of N Broadway and N Vancouver Avenue in Portland, as well as in Brooklyn and Manhattan's Soho neighborhood.

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