More often than not, when people see paint splashed on public walls, they’ll call it vandalism. But murals are an ancient art form. Some of the first recorded art forms, such as the cave paintings in Lascaux, are murals. Aside from their aesthetic properties, murals can benefit a community in subtle ways and help foster creativity. Here’s how murals and their creation can make a community better.
When artists and local businesses or governments work together to create murals, they can bring their community close to each other. Murals are a form of art with no gatekeepers and no barriers. Unlike so-called high art and galleries, you don’t need to have a degree or to pay exorbitant entrance fees to appreciate murals in public spaces. There’s no wall, ironically, that prevents audiences from gazing upon a mural.
Not only that, but creating them can unite neighbors, as demonstrated bya community in St. Petersburg, Florida. Murals don’t just attract neighbors and residents; they can also become tourist locations, drawing artists and audiences from all over the world to your neighborhood, which can reinvigorate the local economy.
Art in Unexpected Places
It’s always nice to find something beautiful in an unexpected place, like illustrations in books, the customized labels on honey jars, or stretches of walls along the streets. Murals can be so effective in drawing people to them. You can start an entire business around it.
For example, Philadelphia has become the unofficial “mural capital of the world,” thanks to the more than 400 murals gracing its streets and buildings. These works of art attract tourists, which in turn encourages more businesses to participate. Putting up murals also makes neighborhoods look more presentable. A study theorized that putting up murals in strategic locations can evoke feelings of safety in pedestrians.
Unlike other art forms, murals present the artist with versatility. If you’re a muralist, you can have a canvas that stretches wider than any other, and entire wall or the entire side of a building. This much freedom lets artists explore creative concepts that would be unthinkable with other platforms. The very public nature of murals also coaxes ideas out of artists, letting them create large images viewed regularly.
Finally, murals can be channels for communities to express their grievances and address issues that matter to them. Just like how a tattoo can tell you much about a person’s inclinations and thoughts, so can murals show passers-by a community’s concerns. They can depict tragedies and problems on a local scale or offer solidarity with larger movements. Through murals, communities can gather and air their outrage and broadcast their messages in a non-violent and creative manner.
Murals are challenging to create, given their usual scale. But like all things that yield significant benefits, it’s not meant to be easy to accomplish. Before people deride murals as mere vandalism, they should realize the amount of dedication it takes to create one and learn about the benefits they provide.