street art

Marcia Good 1-27-2017
BrooklynScribe / Shutterstock, Inc.

BrooklynScribe / Shutterstock, Inc.

“The walls are the publishers of the poor.” —Eduardo Galeano

She had a simple assignment. Walk into the botánica, buy something small, and at minimum exchange greetings with Doña Victoria, the owner who knew she would be seeing random students from DePaul University in Chicago, where I teach, coming in during the week.

But the student sat outside on a bench, pretending to text instead. Why? She admitted that she hesitated going in “for reasons I’m not very proud of”—there were four people on the street, all of them older than her and speaking Spanish, a language she didn’t understand. Three of them had tattoos and piercings. Was she encroaching on their neighborhood? Would that be considered offensive?

When you feel scared and intimidated, what do you do next? She busied herself in her phone until she thought they were gone, and then entered the store.

Later, she wrote:

So I went in, only to discover they were inside as well. I quietly went to look at candles, hoping no one would talk to me. However, the lady I wrote about to the class—the mother who had come to ask Doña Victoria for a prayer of protection for her son, the woman who helped me pick out a candle and patiently answer all of my questions—was the same woman I had avoided outside of the store. She was so willing to help a complete stranger who was so obviously not from the area that I felt incredibly guilty for judging based on her appearance.

Even though I am well aware this entire story sounds like something out of one of those “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books for preteens that teach lessons of cultural acceptance, volunteering for good, creating lasting friendships, etc., everything is completely true and the significance is only becoming apparent as I reflect back. I witnessed the blessing of candles for long-lasting love and safety from violence that day. I also walked away with a unique experience and new impression of Humboldt Park. No other neighborhood that I visited welcomed a complete stranger with such open arms.

ROME — Even in the heartland of global Catholicism, a life-size Madonna on a street wall is an uncommon sight — especially if you leave the cobblestone alleyways of the historic center for the drab concrete of the city's former industrial districts.

But bringing sacred art back to Rome's run-down streets is exactly what a street artist known as Mr. Klevra has set out to do.

Mr. Klevra, a 34-year old Italian artist and a committed Catholic, paints Madonnas and other saints on thin paper posters and then glues them onto walls under the cover of darkness.

"I love the adrenaline of putting up the paintings while hiding from the police," he said. "I love the randomness of having your art torn down after five minutes or see it stay in its place for years and years.''

Mr. Klevra is his artist's name — like many street artists, he doesn't give out his real name, and prefers to keep his identity secret, even shielding his face from cameras.

In his paintings, he combines the millennia-old techniques of Eastern Orthodox iconography with modern tools such as spray paint and Uni Posca pens. Pop culture references sometimes find their way into his work, such as a Madonna with the motto "Only after disaster can we be resurrected,'' a line from American author Chuck Palahniuk's novel, Fight Club.

Joshua Witchger 6-19-2012

Seven summer camp movies to set the tone for your summer adventures —  watch the craft of making flamenco guitars — children spraying dads with a hose — people behind their cereal mascot — new track from Childish Gambino — and video technology meets street art in Berlin. See these in today's Links of Awesomeness...

Joshua Witchger 3-21-2012

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+ Warning: May contain coarse language

Joshua Witchger 2-20-2012

Students protest cafetera food, the art of snowboarding in LED, one man a capella showtunes, spoof street artist Hanksy, and more! Plus, an Animal Extravaganza: Maddie the Coonhound travels the country, remarkable footage of some of the world's strangest creatures, and fashioning an animalistic hair style. All this and more ... inside the blog.

Joshua Witchger 1-25-2012

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Last week was a busy one, getting the blog switched over from Beliefnet to our own web site. Sharp-eyed readers have noticed a few bugs, but since we're over the hump I thought a little Friday fun was in order. Fans of the Colbert Report know that Stephen has done has done a lot to raise awareness of the dangers of bears. His work remains unfinished.

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