One of the most contemporary and popular forms of artistic expression in today’s culture is urban street art. Urban street art has dominated many inner cities art culture and has revived communities, allowing them to once again have hope, faith, and pride in the area that they call home. In this post, I want to discuss some of the ways that urban street art is contributing to modern society.
Urban street art can take many forms, but its most common manifestation is through the work of city murals and paintings. This can be on the side of an overpass, an abandoned building, a sidewalk, or even a street corner itself. These are also just a few examples. Urban street art is virtually limitless in the amount of forms that it can take.
But what is key in understanding the urban street art phenomenon is to understand what has made it so popular and successful and there are a few things that go into this.
First, during the 1980s and 1990s many highly urban communities did not see many rewards from the booming economy of that time and as a result lost some of their bearings. The areas became less stable and more crime ridden. Many people began to lose hope in their community and needed a rallying point that they could claim as their own: a unifying vision that represented their community.
In comes urban street art.
Many artists, being intimately aware of the problems facing these inner-city communities themselves, started going through these communities giving the population exactly what they were looking for: a reminder of what their town represents. These artists were able to acutely capture the sentiments of the community because for the most part they were an integral part of it. These were not academic artists in the ivory tower; they were local, independent artists looking to make a difference, and as these artists started painting murals on old buildings and street blocks, people were quite literally given the vision that they once had of their communities.
In this way, urban street art is an art medium that brings together people of all classes, races, sexes, and background. It is a unifying medium that seeks to bring people together for a common cause of uplifting a community from its ruins.
Of course, urban street art need not be something an impoverished city does. Many wealthy cities like Chicago prominently display works of urban art in their downtown district. This is a testament to the far-reaching arm of the art itself that it can bridge income and with that culture gaps as well as other ones. In fact, many cities celebrate urban art displays with downtown art fairs all throughout their city with anything from sculptures, to painting, drawing and printmaking.
Urban street art is definitely here to stay and we would say has made an incredibly positive impact on the communities that it has touched. What about your community? Have you seen any street art popping up? If not, you should consider doing some; it could be the spark that reignites your town.