Street art can promote conversation and highlight social, political and environmental issues and has always been a powerful platform to convey messages to the masses. Check out the street art murals brought to us in 2017 that promote injustices and inspire hope for our future…
Eight years ago, the artist Shepard Fairey made the iconic image that captured a period of HOPE in America by using an image of Barack Obama. For Inauguration day on the 20th January 2017, the politically outspoken artist was back, this time using his art to create thought provoking images for the ‘We The People’ campaign. The purpose of which was to reject hate, fear, and racism, something that was normalised during the 2016 presidential campaign. So on Inauguration Day, ‘We the People’ flooded Washington, DC with NEW symbols of hope. The artworks were free to download and were placed as advertisements in news papers across America so everybody had access to the campaign and images.
Street Art for Mankind (SAM) is a world-first street art movement on a mission to stop child slavery. Following on from their UN exhibition in New-York City, Street Art for Mankind settled in Miami to make a stand for the children of the community. Between February 10th to 20th, a new exhibition came to Little River Miami, to open the eyes of the world on the tragic reality of child labour and child slavery.
This had to be the biggest news of 2017! Graffiti artist Banksy opened a hotel in the Palestinian city of Bethlehem. ‘The Walled Off Hotel’ is only a few metres from the West Bank barrier, the Israeli security wall that wraps around Bethlehem and considered illegal by most of the international community.. The 10-room Walled Off Hotel was designed to coincide with the centenary of the Balfour Declaration and built in the style of a colonial club. The hotel is aimed at attracting foreign visitors to the occupied West Bank and showing them the realities of life surrounded by the wall.
April saw the environment project “Breathe” reach its target via crowd funding, and begin their mission of reforesting Mount Olivella. BREATH is a unique project conceived and curated by Antonio Oriente and Incipit, with the addition of Street artist Escif. Mount Olivella is a 1,025 mt. high mountain rising above the Gulf of Sapri, in Southern Italy. It was partly deforested by the middle of 1700s, with serious consequences as the hydrogeological instability which still causes floods in the surrounding areas. BREATH will revive Mount Olivella, bringing balance and protecting the environment. Each new tree will be a new breath for the mountain.
May saw the release of ‘Splash and Burn’, an environmental campaign addressing the impact of the Palm oil industry through Art, curated by Ernest Zacharevic and coordinated by Charlotte Pyatt. The title is a play on ‘Slash and Burn’, a technique used to clear patches of land by palm oil producers. These fires produce thick smog and release toxic greenhouse gases into Singapore and parts of Malaysia and Indonesia. Splash and Burn creatively brings awareness to unregulated farming practices of Palm Oil in Indonesia. Tackling issues such as the transboundary haze, Deforestation, Human and Animal displacement.
June saw the great project “Back to School! Ukraine” co-curated by French artist Julien Malland aka Seth Globepainter, Mural Social Club , Sky Art Foundation and Dmitriy Palienko. ‘Back to School!’ is dedicated to the mural art in schools, kindergartens and other locations, related with children or education, in socially vulnerable zones. “Back to School! Ukraine” first mural “Popasna’s swing” was created by Seth Globepainter/Seth Land on the east of Ukraine, in the small town Popasna, close to frontline in Luhansk region. This mural is painted on the wall of the school, that was damaged by pro-russian artillery in 2014.
PangeaSeed Foundation, the international marine conservation organisation, in collaboration with Proyecto Panorama, and Cancun’ s image urban commission (CIMUC), hosted the street art festival Sea Walls: Murals for Oceans in Cancun, Mexico. The festival began towards the end of July to generate awareness and explore creative solutions surrounding the region’s marine environmental issues. Nychos painted a Translucent Whale Shark, a increasingly popular marine attraction in Cancun, but are still listed as an endangered species due to destructive human impacts such as overfishing and the global demand for shark fins.
This year aptART launched ‘Paint Outside The Lines’ project in Lebanon, working with youth from Syria, Palestine and Lebanon together to paint walls across Beirut and inside refugee camps to promote coexistence. AptART also had support from UNHCR Lebanon and Montana Cans (official). Ernesto Maranje’s huge mural ‘The Rhino and the Oxpecker’ served as a reminder of how diversity can be a benefit rather than a burden.
South African based artist, Sonny, has been travelling the world with his latest wildlife protection campaign “‘To The Bone” which aims to raise funds and awareness for endangered wildlife before it’s too late. His mural of a Rhino brought him to the streets of London. His murals often show the endangered animals’ faces breaking away to reveal the raw skeletons underneath, symbolic of how these beautiful creatures are quickly fading away. Tribal patterns from the animals’ country of origin adorn the exposed bones, driving home the message that in losing them we are losing a part of our heritage too.
The second annual, multi-city Street Art Festival UPEA began in Finland. Onur’s mural was entitled “The Last Cocktail” in Jyväskylä, Finnland and is an extension of his mural “Last Island”. “The Last Cocktail ” is a sarcastic comment to ‘those who cheer and raise their glasses to themselves with egocentric need to feed their greedy minds’ and do not respect climate regulations. The former majestic iceberg now takes on the shape of tiny ice cubes floating in their bloody Mary’s. A drink relating to the blood shed and decline of life all over Antarctica. Then in a twist during the night, the UV sublayer below just shows the polar bear in its natural environment, depicting the revenge of nature’s power and once again, the roar of the wild returning once mankind has vanished and erased itself.