For the second time this year I head to New Orleans. This time I was on a vacation, I finally took some time where I didn’t have to be anywhere, so I didn’t have an art agenda. However, my one priority was to find Banksy from when he did a “residency” there. I had also been following his month in New York and am interested in the messages that he wants to leave with his graffiti.
It wasn’t hard to find. I just googled Banksy in New Orleans and found out that he was in New Orleans three years after the Hurricane Katrina, in 2008. I easily found Umbrella Girl still existed in Marigny neighborhood. Considered to be one of his most poignant pieces from this series, the umbrella is supposed to protect her but instead is the source. It had plexi glass over it that was broken through, left with a note PLEASE DO NOT COVER written in marker.
It was in an lower class neighborhood, in fact on the corner on an empty building, at a bus stop. This is an important factor for me, it really shows Banksy is trying to bring art to the people, trying to discuss their struggle.
Photos taken of the guy. Apparently he covered up the area to be in private.
I’m lucky she still exists. A total of fourteen pieces were made but only a couple remain today.
Just as recently as July 2013, A Girl Frightened by Rat was covered up by graffiti. The tag obviously intentional, bearing the words “real graffiti”.
Yet someone began documenting the removal of some of the pieces as early as July 2009, about 9 months after they went up. This piece “Bush” was also intentionally covered up. Besides the threat of vandalism by taggers, Banksy had a war with the Gray Ghost. A man committed to the removal of graffiti in New Orleans, his name comes from the uniform gray paint he uses to cover up the walls.
In response, he became a subject of some of Banksy’s work, depicted as removing the color from the landscape.
While my intention in New Orleans wasn’t art related, but as usual, I couldn’t help but find images relating to one of my on going bodies of work. Salvation Everywhere is a project I have been working on for the last year. It is about being bombarded with religion everywhere you turn. Everyone wants to save you. If you perform certain rituals, such as prayer, confession, or attending mass, you will be cleansed. My ideas primarily form around this concept of ritual and repetition that drives people’s behavior. My second multi media series, it will be composed of sculpture, installation, sound, and photography. The images are what I found everywhere in New Orleans. Religion seemed to be embedded everywhere, including in and around the debauchery on Bourbon Street. I have been randomly capturing images of religion that exists everyday, everywhere. It has been a very interesting project to work on, However, to collect the amount of found items and images I would like to present will take quite a while longer. Many of my projects take a year or two to complete. They are normally larger in scale and generally require much contemplation, Working on my art has really taught me the virtue of patience.
New Orleans is a city of mystery and beauty. There is much to explore, from art to the streets. Any visit here has left me with unique experiences. Hopefully next time I visit I can dedicate a little more time to art. Although with all the inspiration I found, I consider this trip to be very successful art wise.
Stenciling is an extremely popular method because it can be completed in seconds while having the time to design the image. With graffiti, time is always of the essence.
Papering on the walls is one the quickest methods that allows the most details, since the piece is ready in advance. The paper piece, glue, brush, and some darkness is all that is required for a rapid installation.
The wall murals were truly amazing! Several stories high, I can’t even begin to imagine how a piece that large is completed. I saw several pieces that have been included in graffiti books but found so many more than I had never seen referenced in pictures before. I love that I just kept stumbling upon these amazing, huge art works as I explored further into this hidden world. I wonder how many artists it took to create such a monumental piece and how long they spent making it. I’m assuming to complete a project that large they must have the cooperation of the building owner, or at least the residents.
These artists really earned my respect. While there were a few pieces done on store fronts, the majority of the graffiti pieces were done to spread their ideas and love of art. It is common knowledge most artists don’t receive any regular type of compensation for the creation of art and this stands even more so for the artists of the street. This brings up another issue, the anonymity
of the artist, typically hiding behind an alias. Yes, it is illegal in Berlin to vandalize public property. But obviously ignored in certain parts of the city, such as Kreuzberg. Some artists are recognized by their style without a tag. Though in the UK, Banksy comes to mind. He may be the most anonymous public figure, making a “documentary” that was nominated for an Academy Award, “Exit the Gift Shop”, where he blurred his face the entire time. However, there is also Good Ol’ Texas boy, Ron English, an important, preceding figure to Banksy. English differs greatly in the fact that it is very easy to find an image of his face just by googling his name. Yet both artists leave their tongue in cheek opinions in the public, for all to see, comment on, and sometimes add to or alter their art.
But none of these issues have put a cap on the expression that explodes from the neighborhood of Kreuzberg. Paint, paper, glue, stickers, doilies, fake fur…if you can make it stick or paint it, anything goes, anything becomes a canvas. This excursion was very inspirational to me. I am constantly trying to get fresh ideas and renew my thoughts on art. I left with a lot to think about, which directions I can take my art. My head is still trying to process everything I saw and experienced there. This will definitely be a regular stop for me anytime I am in Berlin from now on.