This mural by Michael Vahl is a striking painting of a woman’s head surrounded by an elaborate headdress, 23 feet high and 65 feet long.
The address, forty-one thirty-nine Seventh Terrace South, will get you close. This is one of several murals just North of that building, facing the Pinellas Trail.
The murals are just West of 40th Street South, on the South side of the Trail. They’re visible in a line from the street, but if you’re on the Pinellas Trail, a former railroad track that’s now a wide walking and biking path, you can get closer.
The background is white. In the center is the head of what might be a female shaman, wearing an elaborate headdress that spreads across the wall.
She looks straight out at us with intense blue eyes. The top half of her face is painted red, and her cheeks are blue. A gold nose ring is attached to a gold strand that wraps around her right cheek. Her lips are bright red, with a vertical white stripe down the center of her bottom lip that leads down her chin. Her face is framed by long reddish dreadlocks textured in fine black lines, that hang straight to the base of the mural.
In the center of her forehead is a third eye, with a gold iris and bright tie-dyed streams of pink, blue and purple flowing out of the pupil, rising up and out on either side.
She wears a gold, inlaid crown or headband with three golden skulls on top – a large one almost as big as her head, in the center, rising to the top of the mural. On each side is a smaller golden skull. From behind the skulls, an array of long black and white feathers extends in all directions.
Two pairs of abstract arms reach out behind her head and spread out right and left, framing her face like sculpture. Two smaller arms open above her head and two longer arms spread wide, level with her face and framed by tall black stormclouds.
The arms are colorful, like tie-dyed cloth – pink, orange, yellow, blue and green, matching the vibrant colors of the streams that come from her third eye. The elbows are bent slightly and the hands hold elegant mudras, the familiar gesture from Buddhist and Hindu faiths, where the index finger touches the tip of the thumb, while the other fingers open.
The artists’s signature is at the bottom left.
Born and raised in Los Angeles and based now in Tampa Bay, Michael Vahl specializes in detailed portraits and uniquely crafted artwork influenced by pop art and modern culture.
Watch a video of Michael Vahl at work during SHINE 2018