The goals of our project was to tie the dynamic field that is archaeology to the murals and graffiti of a pandemic. Further into the project we wanted to tie the “political” statements that were hidden within the beautiful “street art” pieces that you yourself may have passed by while taking a stroll outside. The project was about how the murals and graffiti before the Covid-19 pandemic hint were different from the pieces that were painted after the pandemic, or during the pandemic being as we are currently still in the pandemic. How and what the Contemporary Archaeology of the art would indicate, and what was happening in the world at a time such as the one we are in now.
I was really interested in this project because I found the work of Contemporary Archaeologists really intriguing and what they can find and understand about a time through smaller pieces of information. I have always admired art in any form and I like how people use murals and graffiti to express what they feel or what people as a community feel. The pieces that I’ve seen throughout the streets of Seattle and even the smaller pieces I see throughout my own small community, I thought were always so moving in some way and if I’m being honest I’m almost always in awe of the people’s skills.
I think this is relevant now more than ever because with the ever growing issues in today’s society clearly the people have had enough of a lot of the “political” issues that are prevalent in communities. One form of communication that people take to because they don’t think they have a fair say in anything is the form of graffiti or murals depicted on the sides of walls and on billboards. Messages within the art form are meant for the “higher” ups and for the community to see. Sang Bae sums it up pretty clearly when they say “mural painting was adopted as a channel of social expression for those who felt that they did not possess the agency to establish their own cultural representation and identity.” What I hope to gain as an individual from this project was the greater understanding of the importance of such an art form and what it truly represented. Tying that understanding to Contemporary Archaeology and what both topics could do with and for each other. It was a fascinating journey into the understanding of such an underrated art form.
What I learned from the articles and peer reviewed research papers that covered topics similar to the one that I have been talking about is that almost all of the time each mural or graffiti piece is saying something, and most of the time it’s because the people performing such an art form are misheard and treated with disregard. “These people, usually from ethnic enclaves and disenfranchised urban areas, painted on walls combining imageries adopted from their cultural roots with contemporary styles and inspiration to visually communicate their concerns, hopes, and culture as a collective community” (Bae, 2016) Through the COVID-19 pandemic a lot of things have changed drastically but somethings are still continuing such as street art. “One notable exception is street artists and graffiti artists, who have been busy incorporating COVID-19 into their work.” (Mitman, 2020) These reasons have shaped our ending project in many ways, we first thought of presenting an online presentation of our findings but then we thought that that wasn’t good enough for the information we are trying to have people connect with. We thought that since the age we live in is heavily based on an online presence we took to the instagram platform to present our work. The page of our instagram is linked down at the bottom. The research we did for this project really refined the work for me personally. I needed to really understand what aspects I was trying to connect to Contemporary Archaeology and how they connect to the political climate of today. The article by Sang Bae really helped me understand the significance of murals and graffiti and once I had an understanding of that It was easily understandable to tie the two topics together.
I think our project turned out better than we imagined. We successfully contributed a lot of “post” to our page and each provided a caption depicting what is being said or what we got from the art work. Although none of the posts are lengthy I think it’s actually okay, because it leaves the art piece up for interpretation for the viewers. One thing I’ll take away from this project is a different look on events that are happening around me and what impact I can have. Looking deeper and getting “educated” on events and finding out what really is being said in any situation. I’m definitely going to be mindful of what’s around me and what I leave behind.
The Instagram page for our project is linked here: https://www.instagram.com/muralsandgraffiti/
Bae, S. (2016). Balancing Past and Present: Reevaluating Community Murals and Existing Practices. Retrieved June 13, 2020, from https://repository.upenn.edu/hp_theses/600/
Mitman, T. (2020, May 19). Coronavirus murals: inside the world of pandemic-inspired street art. Retrieved June 13, 2020, from https://theconversation.com/coronavirus-murals-inside-the-world-of-pandemic-inspired-street-art-138487