Street art with a strong social message

Street art with a strong social message

Street art with a strong social message

If you strolled by RBANMS Grounds last week, your eyes might have seen a number of students capturing the colour and flavour of the surrounding area, using street art. 

Their efforts — part of a month-long project involving 20 students from the Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology — have transformed the boring whitewashed concrete of the school and Grounds into a sprawling canvas, splashed with colour. But the mural of graffiti is not meant to serve as merely visual relief alone, and is instead meant to reflect a powerful social message. 

Arzu Mistry, a faculty member from Srishti, overseeing the project as part of the interim semester, explained that they sought an area rich in multiculturalism. “We wanted an area which had a lot of life to it,” he said. “And this particular area has a mixed community. It has a temple, a mosque, schools, and so, basically, it is a place with loads of rich content for the artists.”

Unique ideas

After observing and researching the surroundings for two weeks, students developed a set of unique ideas and concepts as to how to utilise the public space to tell their stories. Some of these stories involved using 3D art (crafted using earth), different perspectives on life, hand-shadows showing a master and a dog, directions in the form of snakes and ladders, and illustrations of  powerful social commentary in nature, with provactive titles such as ‘Not mine’ and ‘V see you pee.’ In addition, there is also a ‘traveller’ drawn at regular intervals on the mural to act as a connecting point for the different visual narratives on the walls.

Shyamolie and Kinnari, two second-year students behind the ‘Not Mine’ illustration, explained that the idea for their concept came from the attitude of many Bangaloreans. “People shrug off their social responsibilities saying that,  ‘It’s not mine’. So, we used this phrase to create our art work, which has attracted a lot of attention from passers-by and residents of the area,”  the students said. 

Another student, Akshaya, a fourth-year student, decided to turn a kiosk nearby into a world of animals.

“I used earth and cement for this art. The 3-D ants were created using m-seal. A lot of people have come asking about the art work and have appreciated it. But the weirdest question I got was by a man who asked if I was constructing a house for a cobra,” she said with a laugh.Major research

Before starting their paintings, the students were given two weeks to research the area, listen to the conversation of people and understand local issues. The results were interesting.

Nilanjan Dhar, a second-year student who used transformers and an autorickshaw for his art said that, “I have made a transformer act as a giant and eating up the autorickshaw. Many people thought that it has a message about safety,” he said. “At times, when you draw simple things, people don’t bother to stop and look twice. So, it must be something that makes people stop and wonder about the story behind the art.”

Priscila Netalkar, a fourth-year student, painted directions in a board-game format. “People usually get lost while seeking directions. So, I developed up this idea.” she said. When asked about the longevity of such art forms, she said that, “Street art is not predictable. It has to fade with time. One has to accept this fact.”