That’s a much bigger question than this little blog will conquer, but I’ll etch the surface. Reporting from Winter Garden, Florida, I have yet one more post to share about our Mexico trip. Today’s blog is colorful photos of public art. That being said, if you are interested in hearing more about where we stayed, the places we ate, and where we did some “hanging out”, please check out the highlighted links to Woody’s Blogs.
If you’ve been following me, you may recognize I have a certain attraction to the arts. I concede my attraction may be in the most banal sense, but I’m OK with that. Often my focus is public art (=free), which includes bridges or architecture, statues, graffiti, or legitimate murals. In Mexico I found myself stopping short, “What the heck is this to supposed to mean!?” Then, asking myself, “WHY?”
Therein lies one of my attractions to art. Trying to massage the “why” out. I have found myself thinking of a piece of art before sleep takes over, trying to figure out the “why”. If my hunch is right, the artist would be thrilled to know that, or at least know it was impactful enough for me to toss & turn about it.
The Writing on the Wall
From Paleolithic cave paintings in the Dordogne region of France, to the painted alter of Michelangelo’s Last Judgment, public art has been a tool to communicate to the masses. In Mexico, there is a rich history of using art, specifically murals, to unite and communicate a common story. In the wake of a divisive civil war (1910-1920), the government funded large-scale wall paintings in order to present an official, unifying history of Mexico. A history where its citizens would find themselves. Enter Mexican Muralism.
Of course there were plenty of murals which border on a graffiti-like trajectory. You know, where you aren’t certain they were willfully agreed with. But, I gladly digest art in all its forms.
Murals commissioned or endorsed by the business owner are often easier for interpretation. Luckily, the message is deeper than “please shop here”, and instead suggests “stop here”…. soak it in:
The main reason murals are prolific in this part of Mexico is due to PangeaSeed. This organization purports to “give the oceans a voice, one artwork at a time.” They host renowned artists from all over the world to descend on communities and paint murals to communicate ocean stories. These murals address the pressing environmental issues our oceans are facing. The message can be heart wrenching – that’s the power of public art. Let me share:
The message Aaron Glasson wants to emphasize is the wellbeing of dolphins who are held in captivity. Quintana Roo (a state in Mexico) has a staggering 20% of of the global captive dolphin population. With the mural, he encourages us to think twice before visiting one of these “Dolphin Shows”. Our money is better spent in keeping animals in the wild.
This artist is highlighting the importance of sea turtles. These graceful swimmers are easily spotted off the shores of the peninsula. They have roamed the earth’s oceans for the last 100 million years, and are an important link to marine ecosystems.
Millions of sharks are killed annually for the global trade in shark’s fin. Less than 10 people die annually due to shark bite. Toilets, vending machines and falling coconuts kill more people than sharks. So, rethink the shark.
I hope you enjoyed this little walk around the Yucatán peninsula, and checking out some of the public art. Believe it or not, this was only a fraction of the murals I photographed, and there are countless I didn’t see. Muralism is alive and well in Mexico! I believe the primary purpose of public art is to invite debate, perhaps to discover more questions, rather than have answers. It also helps community spaces from becoming soulless, barren and without a story.