The Corrections: Street Art Calling Out Bias in The New York Times

May 7th, 2017 | By | No Comments »

As much I’ve enjoyed the anti-Trump stickers that have been making up a healthy portion of my Instagram posts lately, they’re pretty basic: Trump sucks. We get it. New York agrees (except for maybe that one asshole putting up Infowars stickers in my neighborhood). I enjoy those stickers, but what I’d love to see some work that goes a bit deeper into the issues that Trump represents.

Luckily, there’s Alexandra Bell. Her new series of posters smacks you in the face, highlighting the everyday racism that was hiding in plain sight even before the age of “Trump’s America.” Bell has been putting her journalism degree to work critiquing articles from The New York Times to highlight the implicit bias in their stories, headlines, and page layout.

A post shared by Alex(andra) Bell (@yesitsalex) on

She starts with a real page layout from The New York Times, and redacts, critiques, or remakes the page to remove or highlight the paper’s implicit racial bias. Would Michael Brown have been referred to as “A Teenager Grappling with Problems and Promise” if he were white? Why was a major article about Brown given equal billing as an article about his killer? Why was Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt’s photo used below and article about the four white American swimmers who got caught vandalizing a Rio gas station?

A post shared by Alex(andra) Bell (@yesitsalex) on

Bell’s posters have been appearing across NYC, in the subways and on the street, and they’ve provoked different reactions. At first look, they may be confusing, and that’s also why they’re so powerful. These alternative versions of the Times give a glimpse into a different reality, and in doing so highlight the racism still present in ours, even in supposedly liberal and culturally sensitive publications like The New York Times. It’s some of the best street art I’ve seen all year.

And Bell has more to come.

A post shared by Alex(andra) Bell (@yesitsalex) on

Photos from Alexandra Bell’s Instagram


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Holding onto Hope in a Sea of Destruction

April 9th, 2017 | By | No Comments »

Pat Perry‘s latest mural really is stunning. On Instagram, Pat captioned the work, “trying to keep the vision during these unraveling times.” We do have to keep trying, whatever the odds, and I love that Pat has referenced the importance not just of science, but also of art, craft, and creativity in preserving and replenishing our natural environment.

The mural was painted in Napier, New Zealand as part of PangeaSeed Foundation‘s Sea Walls: Artists for Oceans initiative.

As an aside, Sea Walls is an especially interesting mural project in a sea of mediocrity and artwashing. All of their murals take on a pro-environment theme, with a particular focus on oceans. Sea Walls murals have gone up around the world, most recently in Napier, New Zealand, where Pat Perry painted his mural. So far as mural festivals go, it’s a nice model. The same team could just as easily travel the world, going to whatever town wants some pretty pictures on whatever warehouse district is being “revitalized”, commissioning artists to paint whatever the hell they want. So, within the parachuting-artist model of muralism, I’ve got to give credit to Sea Walls for at least basing their work in useful and important content.

Photo by Tre Packard, via Pat Perry’s Instagram


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Brexit is like…

March 29th, 2017 | By | No Comments »

Something timely from Vlady. All my best to my friends in the UK tonight…

Photo by Vlady


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When the Obvious Becomes Radical Leftist Politics

February 23rd, 2017 | By | 4 Comments »

When did pointing out the primary message of the Statue of Liberty (which was immortalized as a poem used to fundraise for the statue and then installed next to it) become an act of protest? Don’t answer. We all know that it was sometime between November 8th and January 20th.

This week, four activists attached a banner reading “REFUGEES WELCOME” at the base of the Statue of Liberty. It was swiftly removed by the park rangers who manage the site. Curbed has more on the story, including a statement from the team that installed it. WHY WAS THAT MESSAGE EVEN NECESSARY TO SAY? This is America, and the idea that refugees and immigrants are welcome should be obvious. Unfortunately, it is not, and that banner was absolutely necessary. Kudos, to whoever installed it. Everyone in America owes you a beer.

On a related note, a school in Maryland made teachers remove posters from their classrooms that celebrated diversity in America. The posters, designed by Shepard Fairey, were determined to be too “political” and “anti-Trump.” So yeah, apparently celebrating diversity counts as anti-Trump now too. Reminds me of this Fox News tweet describing anti-fascist graffiti as anti-Trump.

I guess if anything good is coming out of this, it’s at least the acknowledgement from the right-wing establishment that Trump is in fact a fascist white nationalist.

Photo by Alt Lady Liberty


Category: Art News, Photos | Tags: ,

Kibera, 8 Years After JR

February 1st, 2017 | By | 3 Comments »

@jr eight years after on the rooftops of #Kibera . Thank you @bankslave for your time today

A photo posted by gaiastreetart (@gaiastreetart) on

Longtime Vandalog contributor Gaia posted an intriguing photo today on Instagram. I’ll let these photos and Gaia’s caption speak for themselves, other than to say that this seems to be the great (largely) unwritten critique of JR within the street art world.

Update (Feb 2, 2017): A few readers have reminded us of this incident from 2015 where an ad agency tried to “steal” JR’s artwork from Kibera to raise money for charity, but then things went a bit pear-shaped.

Kibera in 2017, with the remnants of JR’s work on visible.

Photos by Gaia


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United States of Immigrants

January 29th, 2017 | By | No Comments »

Icy and Sot hit the nail on the head with this one.

Photo by Luna Park


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America is still here.

December 3rd, 2016 | By | No Comments »

America Is

As someone with family in the very red state of Oklahoma, I was especially happy to see Tatyana Fazlalizadeh install this message of strength and defiance in Oklahoma City over the Thanksgiving holiday. Painting a mural in Wynwood is easy, but unimportant. Pasting up a message “to challenge whiteness” (as Tatyana told the Huffington Post) is probably not so easy, but infinitely more important. So while the art world spends this week on vacation in Miami, I’m thankful that Tatyana is doing real work.

You can read more about this piece on Tatyana’s Instagram.

PS, shout out to the fantastic Jess X Chen who is featured in Tatyana’s piece, and will hopefully have a guest post on Vandalog soon! Keep an eye out for that.

Photo by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh


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Film the police!

November 7th, 2016 | By | No Comments »

Nether

Nether‘s latest mural is a tribute to bearing witness. SATYAGRAHA was painted in Baltimore as part of the Baltimore Rising exhibition at the Maryland Institute College of Art. The mural highlights Kevin Moore and Ramsey Orta, who each witnessed police murdering a black man and decided to speak out. Moore filmed Freddie Gray’s arrest, and Orta filmed Eric Garner’s murder. Both have since faced intense police harassment.

Kevin Moore speaks a bit about that harassment, as well as how to interact with police, in this video:

EYES ON BALTIMORE from Nether Bmore on Vimeo.

Nether’s mural is also a plug for WeCopwatch, an organization dedicated to educating people on their right to observe police activities.

So remember: when it’s safe to do so, film the police.

Photo courtesy of the Maryland Institute College of Art


Category: Gallery/Museum Shows, Photos | Tags:

Drills, not guns, with Icy and Sot

October 24th, 2016 | By | No Comments »

Icy and Sot

Gotta love Icy and Sot. I was sad to hear that the above installation didn’t last very long, but even the attempt is pretty fantastic. And while Icy and Sot may have become known for their stencils, much of the duo’s best works aren’t stencils at all. There’s, of course, the balloons above, but there’s also performance, sculpture, and photography. And then there’s also this other recent piece, made with a drill:

Icy and Sot

Kudos to Icy and Sot. I would love to see more street artists really pissing people off with their work and messing with tools and materials.

Photos courtesy of Icy and Sot


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Molly Crabapple’s mural for Syrian refugees

September 3rd, 2016 | By | No Comments »

Molly Crabapple

Molly Crabapple shaped the visuals of Occupy Wall Street, her illustrations of places like present-day Syria and Guantánamo Bay have landed her in VICEVanity Fair, and The New York Times, and she’s about to open a solo show at Postmasters Gallery. If she wanted to, I’m sure there are plenty of walls that she could paint in New York, where she lives. If Crabapple wanted to paint a mural for the sake of getting some buzz for her upcoming gallery show, that would be the way to go. That would be the norm in this city. Nobody would mind. But that’s not Molly Crabapple. She turned down a chance to work with Lena Dunham because she disagrees with Dunham’s stance on the best approach to decriminalize sex work. So, for what I’m pretty sure is her first exterior mural, Crabapple traveled to Antakya, Turkey where she painted a youth center for Syrian refugees.

This was the third time that Crabapple has painted at a Syrian youth center in Turkey. In 2014 and 2015, she painted interior murals with the Karam Foundation. This year, she worked with Save the Children (here’s a bit more about their work in Turkey).

Molly Crabapple

Continuing along the same themes as those first two projects, Crabapple painted dozens of whimsical and animals all over the building. It’s a side of Crabapple’s works that I didn’t realize existed, but it seems a great fit for the space. What’s more universally cheerful than a bunch of slightly mischievous cats?

Let’s hope this is just the first of many exterior murals from Crabapple.

More photos below… Read the rest of this article »


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