Exploring Urban Art in Class blog cover
09 Jan 2024

Exploring Urban Art in Class


[Article written by CYA Fall ’23 Student Tyanna Xavier]

Greece is a beautiful place for finding meaning through art. Specifically in the urban space of Athens, you are constantly surrounded by diverse art, created by a wide variety of artists. Aside from admiring this art in our free time in the city, we had the opportunity to explore it further through a CYA class activity. In our class Sociology of Dissent, we walked around Monastiraki with our Professor Rosa Vasilaki, who showed us pieces of graffiti art and explained some of the meanings behind them. Vassilaki used the graffiti art we viewed as an entry-point to go deeper into discussions we’ve been having in class about dissent, politics, everyday life, popular culture.

It was very interesting and enlightening because a lot of these pieces of graffiti art have a deeper meaning than what meets the eye. By the end of the class, we were assigned to pick one or two pieces of graffiti art and give our own interpretation. Here are a few reflections from myself, Tyanna Xavier, Carol Baird, and Sumaiya Juhan about some deeper meanings we can see in these pieces.

During our graffiti art walk, this piece specifically stood out to me because of its beauty and vibrant colors. In this art, we can see there is a woman and the lion figure on her right. The way I had personally interpreted this piece is that the lion figure on the right could represent the woman’s inner strength and the fierceness that she has within her. She may be in her shell most of the time and may want to embrace that strength and fairness that she has. Another way that I had interpreted this piece is that the lion figure is a “protector” and could even be the younger version (inner child version), of herself trying to always protect her. One other aspect I noticed in this piece is the word “Mexico” is written. The artist could also be trying to say something about Mexico or being Mexican. The artist’s name is written there as Eva Bracamontes 01. Doing some research on her, she is a Mexican female artist and on her website, she says her work shows beautiful women of ethnic diversity.

[Reflection by CYA Fall ’23 student Sumaiya Jahan]

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I would like to express what these pieces of graffiti art signify to me based on appearance. The first photo reminds me of an angel or a fairy, especially with the wings and flowy dress. The woman in the photo presents the physical appearance of a black woman with darker-toned skin and long hair that can be described as braids or locs. The representation of a black woman in this almost angelic and fairytale-like manner gives me the feeling of protection, peace, and magic. The peace is further expressed through the hand-making of the peace sign, which can also be a goodbye signal to the boat that seems to be departing in the background. Did this womanly figure have something to do with the boat leaving? This image caught my attention because it shows me a woman of color depicted in a way of light, maybe she was helpful to the boat or saved something/one from the boat’s arrival but her pointing and standing with such grace shows me that she was the one in charge. Women of color shown in the best light always catch my eye because women of color are natural maternal figures who protect and love unconditionally and to see it depicted in art is an amazing feeling. For the second piece of artwork, I chose the heart with flowers blooming from the vessels. The heart is a very intricate organ that is capable of maintaining life and expressing love. I love the flowers growing out of the heart because it shows that, like flowers, love must be nurtured in order to grow.

[Reflection by CYA Fall ’23 Student Carol Baird]

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A piece of graffiti I thought was interesting on my walk was this one. It consists of a very colorful background with a picture in the middle of kids of all different skin colors, nationalities, and races. In the middle, one child is holding the world in his hands. If you look closely, the picture of the children is made into a big puzzle piece. On the outside, the picture has multiple puzzle pieces of different shapes and sizes surrounding the children. I believe the meaning behind this graffiti art is that the children are our future and there is so much hatred going on in the world and these children shouldn’t grow up to be exposed to that hatred. When children are young they only see the good, so if these children are going to be the future why don’t we continue to keep that mindset going together? Further interpreting this graffiti art I would say that it is portraying the thought that, if we all come together in the way these kids are demonstrating, we can create peace in the world. Thus, if we as adults can show them what that looks like, it is possible that these children will follow in our footsteps to come together and do good. Finally, once that happens all the puzzle pieces will come together. I also wanted to point out that this graffiti art seems to be sponsored by Visa which is a card company that is widely used around the world. This means Visa supports this message and wants the world to see it.

[Reflection by CYA Fall ’23 Student Tyanna Xavier]