Mural in Venice, California of people kissing while wearing face masks

Street Artists Globally Adjust to Life with COVID-19

Much of the world continues to shelter in place as a result of COVID-19. However, when these restrictions are lifted there will be much more art in the world.

Graffiti artists and muralists have taken to the streets and other public places to express their opinions and support during this pandemic through art.

This street art can be found all over the world. One of the newest pieces that has captured the internet’s attention is a mural in Wisconsin depicting a front-line medical worker in prayer.

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In Berlin, Germany there is a mural of Gollum, a character from Lord of the Rings, worshipping a roll of toilet paper.

Artists have been taking to the streets globally. More coronavirus-inspired art takes the streets of Russia, Italy, Spain, India, England, Sudan, Poland, Greece, and elsewhere.

Rafael Schacter is an anthropologist and curator focusing on public and global art. He spoke on the current coronavirus art movement and answered questions addressing why it is so important to our collective experience and how the future will be affected.

What type of creativity is needed right now, during this time of crisis?

In unprecedented times there is not a proven answer in how to proceed. One of the spaces where debate can emerge, especially for those less able to speak within the media, is the street.

Graffiti allows artists to express their ideas, especially now as the graffiti becomes the focus of the otherwise empty public spaces.

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How is the coronavirus street art and graffiti pushing forward the world conversation about art and the virus itself?

People take to the streets to make their art, however it is shared using the digital public sphere. This means there must be more thought about the way we view art online.

On a local scale there is a lot of art being created about issues such as rent strikes and the basic needs of survival. Additionally, now a lot of graffiti is about conspiracy theories. When people feel powerless conspiracy theories often comfort people and help them grasp what is happening. During a time like this, it makes sense that people feel powerless and that conspiracy theory art is emerging.

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Have you seen any parallels between graffiti and street art during the coronavirus and during other pivotal moments in history?

This is such an odd situation where being in a public space is even difficult. That makes it more difficult to produce graffiti because artists can't “hide in plain sight” and because everyone is at home.

It is hard to parallel this event to any other because the public is now private. 

This pandemic has a reach beyond stay at home orders, the many deaths that it has caused, and the many people who are left misplaced.

Greek graffiti artist S.F. illustrates a woman with injuries on her face.

The lockdown imposed by the pandemic raises many worries including that domestic violence occurrences will be heightened as a result of confinement in homes.

Click below to see more COVID-19 street art. 

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