Zeph Farmby launched his art career as a teenager in the early 90s, painting graffiti on surfaces around the south side. The surfaces changed when he enrolled in art classes at Percy L. Julian High School near 103rd and Vincennes (he fell back on painting when he didn't make the basketball team). Now Farmby not only paints but does graphic design and creates streetwear. He says his work reflects hip-hop culture as well as his roots in the south and west sides. A lot of it retains a graffiti aesthetic, though in some of the portraits on his website he looks to be moving beyond that. Power & Equality, for instance, combines the faces of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. Affirmative Action depicts a young black man posing on the cover of Fortune magazine in an undershirt, a sheaf of cash in his hands. The headline reads "The New CEOs."
Farmby's current solo show at Elephant Room, Inc., continues along these lines. Titled "Love, Lust & Desire," it presents more of his musings on money, pop culture, and politics—including a black-and-white canvas of a grim little African-American boy holding a sign that says, "One day the poor will have nothing left to eat but the rich."