Murals Reflect Life in the City

Peter Kelly, Yuhan Liu, Julio Lara

     Murals reflect the people and the values of the city.  Communities use murals as a form of political expression and identity creation. 

Methodology

In the study, went to different sections around Omaha and find murals within the area is the main idea for the study. With some research and analysis about the function, aesthetic and influences of those murals. The study shows that that different area has different style and function of murals due to the different community, and prove that with our findings and analysis.

 

Findings

Murals Promote Unity

        Within Omaha, there is a high concentration of murals in Southern Omaha and Midtown. The aesthetics and content vary depending on where the mural is located. In Southern Omaha, the murals are generally much more oriented around a cultural community than the murals in Midtown.

mural1

        The murals from Midtown tend to show more abstract scenes, some don’t even have a single person present. South Omaha is home to several Latino communities, which is reflected in its murals. The murals show a plethora of cultural imagery, ranging from people in the community to depictions of heroes and folktales. South Omaha murals could  be found on any building, whether it be an apartment building, a community center, or a divorce consultant firm. The murals still have an aura of community representation around them, being found on local business, centers, or other buildings unique to the community. Contrasting South Omaha, the Midtown murals seem to be exclusively located on or around places of business. Recent years have seen an attempt to revitalize the Midtown area, by drawing in people and by extension, their business and money. These efforts spurred the painting of murals to beautify the area. 

mural2

Analysis

The aesthetics of the murals within Omaha vary greatly due both  to the presence of many different cultural groups, and the location where they’re located. The Croatian mural showcases some of their architecture and festival practices, while the Guatemalan mural shows figures from their nation’s history and the landscape of their home country. Despite the differences in what the groups choose to portray, they manage to communicate a theme of promoting unity between different communities. Another mural paints the picture of a nondescript city street, but the Guatemalan mural shows monuments and specific buildings from their country’s capital. Some murals don’t even portray a definite scene, but still use imagery related to a general area. Whether or not the image is general or specific, they both serve to give outsiders to their community a general idea of what they can expect to find in the mural’s neighborhood. 

Unlike with written words, there is no language barrier with art. Anyone who speaks any combination of languages can see and understand the scene portrayed in a mural. With no restrictions on who can understand the scene that unfolds, the murals promote unity and interaction between the diverse cultural groups present in Omaha, who would have otherwise had little to no method of communicating. In her article, Mae Shaw states that communication between cultural groups in a city is imperative, otherwise the groups would develop in isolation from others. This would ultimately destroy the overall identity of a city, reducing it to a cluster of smaller identities that don’t interact or play off of each other in any meaningful way. Becoming more familiar with a community and the plights that they face is crucial when trying to promote a sense of unity. Murals fill the role of communication between communities, allowing development to occur by facilitating interactions. 

The article “Street Art? More like Sweet Art. Reclaiming the “Public” in Public Space” discusses how murals are used to raise social awareness. One mural in a hispanic community in Southern Omaha depicts the activities that take place in their community. A woman is shown graduating from college, which is depicted in an effort to break down the stereotype of immigrants that remain stagnant and don’t contribute to society. The mural also showcases people in their community taking part in practices like farming or reading, hoping to show similarities between themselves and the rest of the city. Even though they seek to show that they can be similar, the mural also presents cultural practices unique to the people of that community, including preparing traditional meals and a parade celebrating a holiday that only they follow. Overall, the mural seeks to show that the people of its community aren’t all that different from the rest of the city, but not similar enough that they are completely the same. The sociologists who wrote the article mentioned at the beginning of the paragraph would agree with these points, as the mural seeks to bring people closer together while still celebrating the diversity of communities in Omaha. 

When a mural has one uniform art style, it further serves to solidify the unity of a community. Different art styles are pervasive in the murals of Omaha, so the use of one style on any given mural shows how the people in that community share ways of doing things. The article, “Murals in Latino Communities: Social Indicators of Community Strengths” highlights that no two murals are ever artistically the same, supporting the individuality of the community that created it. The large Guatemalan mural in South Omaha shows an array of images, ranging from folk heroes and religious figures to scenic depictions of Guatemala. Like the other murals from South Omaha, it seeks to bridge the gap between the community and the rest of Omaha while still maintaining a strong community identity. It shows Roman Catholic imagery that would appeal to the large number of Catholics in Omaha, but the images depicted are of a Mexican saint. It brings people together by highlighting their Catholicism, but preserves its identity by showing Mexican folk heroes in the Catholic imagery.

mural3

 In addition to a uniform art style bringing a community closer together, the mural also requires a vast amount of organization and support from the community. A large project like the mural will inevitably bring the people of the community closer together. While the organization and cooperation required to create the mural will bring the community together, the mural will hopefully bring the community closer together with the rest of the city. As seen in the Guatemalan mural, the presentation of Catholic imagery will immediately form bonds with Catholics outside of their community. Overlapping communities, like the Guatemalan and Catholic communities of Omaha, open new vessels for communication between groups that would have otherwise never have interacted with each other, bringing the people of the city closer as whole. 

Clashing with the cultural displays of Southern Omaha, Midtown has many murals that don’t depict an image of their communities. Recently, there has been an effort to reinvigorate the Midtown part of Omaha, which spurred the creation of several murals. While these murals don’t actually show off any one given community, their abstractness allows much more discussion to be had between anyone as to either what exactly is going on in the image, or what the meaning behind it is. Ultimately, the conversations and viewings surrounding the murals will still bring people together, with no real barrier on background. Through this method, the abstract murals still accomplish the same goal of the community murals of bringing people together.

The parking lot mural in Midtown shows an androgynous head with a bright assortment of figures spewing from their cranium, starkly contrasting the black background. There are many snakes, birds, and flowers that don’t look like anything found near Omaha. The unfamiliarity will draw in people born and raised in Omaha, while people who traveled a great distance to live in Omaha might recognize some of the creatures shown in the mural. Either way, it draws in people from different backgrounds, leading to concentrations of people from diverse upbringings. While not directly asserting an identity, it still manages to promote unity between the diverse communities of Omaha. 

The journal article “Participation of Children with Autism and Nondisabled Peers in a Cooperatively Structured Community Art Program” shows that working on art projects in a large group causes an increase in communication between cliques that would have otherwise left each other alone. Similarly, creating murals in Midtown will reinvigorate the area. The act of creating murals and discussing them will cause people to interact, whereas before they would probably have continued on with their day. The murals don’t have a definite cultural background when compared to South Omaha, but the ambiguity surrounding the origin of the portrayed figures allows for a wider audience to associate with the image. The sociologists who studied the rate of interaction between disabled parties and people who aren’t disabled would agree with this point, as they saw that communication and interaction was increased drastically when the two groups worked together on a project. In addition, the communication spike bled outside of the project, showing that the groups were reaching out to each other on their own volition, no tied to any sort of group project.

Murals in Advertising

Findings

Walk into midtown Omaha, local store and bar all around area, for some people, maybe this place is one of the view point in Omaha, but what makes the place more interesting is that every other walls, there are murals painted on it. Not like murals around south Omaha, murals here did not has very strong concepts in it but more just modern and pop art, but rather than have it to represent the culture or style, it more use for advertising. Since 1930s, huge murals starts to become popular way for people to advertising, they has huge scales, bright color, culture related and everything can become the canvas. Around midtown Omaha, the canvas is the wall around parking lots, when one drive by the street, these murals are very eye catch, and that makes a good way to promote the bar or store, article “What Public Visualization can learn Street Art” talks about how street art not only just “art”, with the 4 different types of murals that the article shows, the murals use for advertising has more than just present but communicate with viewer and visiter. 

Walk till 24th street around the new car cafe,3 large murals shows on the side of cafe (image #2-a), the murals titled “cat’s perspective”, it seems very fit for a mural about cat use to promote cat cafe. But the interesting fact is the mural are much older than the cafe, so it is safe to say that the cat cafe choose this location by fit the store with the mural.  This shows that murals that use to advisiting can be the way to change people’s idea, in the article “Selling Street as Experience the Role of Street Art Tours in Branding the Creative City”, the author talks about how street has the function in geographic, economic and symbolic, and this cat cafe is one of the good example, the store chose the geographic location due to the murals, after that it takes people’s’ attention to the the place to bring the economic and the mural itself could be the idea of the symbol of “cat cafe”. 

Analysis

Murals are one way to express and display art within the society, in many ways, murals represents the culture of the society, so murals usually shows with religion base painting, however, there also some murals are use for promote or advertising. 

Compare to just logo and sign on the street, people could be easily notice the murals around the store, murals are better ways for people to notice the store and bring economy to the local bar, compare to the number of cars around the mural parking lot with non mural parking lot, the park with mural usually have more cars.

The style have important role in advertising. People have different aspect about style and aesthetic of murals, so ones are more willing to go to place with mural they like. Last section talks about different areas of people have different artistic view of murals, same thing with advertising. For example, the mural around bars are often show jumy color and high contrast, human figures and biomorphic shapes are often show in the murals to create a visual shock for people that is walk by or looking for a bar; around public area or cafe, the murals shows less contrast but more smooth  and nature color that make much more nature and relax feeling which pare with the people’s needs when they trying to find the store. 

Art at an Early Age

Finding

       In the article “Early Childhood Arts Education in the United States: a Special Issue of Arts Education Policy Review” states that early learning in early childhood, from birth to eight years of age, is a stage of great importance in all areas related to child learning and development. The experiences lived during early childhood greatly affect the future success of children.

All human beings begin to learn from the moment they are born. During the first years of life, is when the brain is at its maximum potential for maturation, and therefore should be used to stimulate it from an early age. Learning at an early age will promote the development of the child, encouraging their motor, social and intellectual formation.

There are important evidences in different fields, which show that the development of intelligence, personality and social behavior in human beings occurs more rapidly during the first years. Insufficient intellectual stimulation can lead to serious and possibly irreversible damage to development. Here is one of the most important reasons to begin the education of their children in the first years of life.

        When the brain develops under optimal conditions, the learning potential increases and the chances of failure in school decrease. Therefore, educational programs that promote interaction with the physical, natural and socio-cultural environment can promote brain development and learning potential. In addition, half of the development of the intellect occurs before four years of age, due to the relationship between the rate of brain growth during the first years and the effect of perceptual stimulation on the structure and organization of neuronal connections.

        After knowing the importance of early learning it can be deduced that teaching art as well as any other subject at an early age matter is something that will benefit children in a very positive way. Parents always want the best for their children so they should consider educating them more at an early age and in this way put them on the right track and are educated and good people. In the same way, better opportunities have to be implemented in schools since this is where learning begins as well as at home. A person prepared and educated will always have better employment opportunities and also will not be ignorant.

Analysis 

The best stage for learning is childhood. Implementing art education in Omaha at an early age will help make the children and the city more cultural.

Finding 

        “Finding Your Voice in the Streets” article is about urban art or street art is called all the art made in the streets or with reference to this style. Urban art or street art is called all the art made in the streets or with reference to this style. Street art combines several social elements such as: Artists have a need to find spaces for social expression, to express in a direct way the reality that surrounds them, express their concerns and social classes, the desire for individual and collective changes. It is a way of expressing itself that has existed for decades and that has evolved.

People often speak bad of this type of art and describe it as “vandalism”, since it works by breaking established rules, and the places where this art is expressed are public, but the vast majority of artists only try to express their thoughts and emotions, that is, it is not so different from what thousands of artists from other styles of art did years ago. Many people confuse graffiti with what vandals do, which are the ones that dirty walls with aerosols, painting in public places and historical ones, without any kind of regard or respect, in order to mark their territory, but street art is not like this, it is made to be seen and admired by many, thus manifesting its art.

        A street artist the only thing that he tries with his works of art is to surprise the person who observes his work and impact it with the very striking message he has. In addition, the vast majority of messages are usually related to what happens in their time and the struggle between politics and the people or social life.

 A graffiti is the expression of a visual idea as seen or conceived by an individual and has developed from its original form in three different ways: the first, imitating by means of drawings the environment surrounding the artists, the second, expressing social ideas, personal thoughts and messages through words, and third, the expression through words and dolls that look like drawings or characters that can only be understood by the writer who makes them.

        There are three important factors artists need to express themselves in this form of street art: the need for expression in a different way, the idea of ​​leaving a mark beyond the individual and the intention to transform reality through the uniqueness of each person and the picture in a work, getting to create works of art thanks to his inspiration.

Analysis 

Street art is one of the most hybrid forms of artistic expression in our modern world because its purpose is to draw upon what the viewers know and manipulate the physicality of the subject to make their point. The main goal of street art was born out of the need to “control, visibility itself”

Finding 

The “Representation and Diversity, Advocacy, and Nonprofit Arts Organization” article says, “the society of the United States is built on the basis of a diversity of ethnic groups and cultures that have helped to shape the values of the Americans.” Some individuals and groups have sets of respected values that are quite different from those belonging to other individuals and more common groups. The attitudes and behavior of people are based on their values. The great cultural diversity that exists in this country is extremely important.

        With so much diversity of people in this country makes people with the same or similar backgrounds join together. This happens because people feel comfortable with someone who is their own ethnic group or because they have many things in common, such as their way of thinking or with the same customs and traditions.

In a society there are different types of people who tend to be with people similar to them. Thus, groups or social communities are formed within this society. These communities or groups are made up of people with similar goals. These groups or communities existing in a society feel the need to be identified by the rest of society. To be an identified or distinguished group you need to do things that can help these groups to be identified by others. Most of these groups try to create different ways of being identified but one very important is the art of these. These people through art, such as murals or artistic exhibitions, make the rest of society know their culture and roots. With such a variety of cultures one might think that problems could arise, but it is not like that, these groups of people only make themselves distinguished from the others. But this distinction is not about knowing who is better. It is a distinction which consists of only informing or letting society know who they are.

Analysis 

The United States of America is full of people from all around the world. Murals found in Omaha represent different ethnic groups that live here. It is important to respect and tolerate each other in order to live in a peaceful city. 

Finding

         “‘I’d double tap that!!’ Street art, graffiti, and Instagram research” article  is about the importance of Social Networks in today’s society can be defined as the form of interaction between society, where tastes or preferences are shared between people or groups. Human beings are by nature sociable, since being an individual and rational creature is not self-sufficient and requires the help and protection of others and therefore they live in communities.

These social platforms were created by the constant need of people to want to share their achievements, or doubts to be resolved or praised for the rest. The importance or necessity of networks today is undeniable, every time there are more social networks on the internet, they appear more and more specific, as in the cases of publication of images or photos, people or companies do it through Instagram, if they are going to publish videos they do it through YouTube and if they want to contact professionally they do it through LinkedIn.

        Currently everything is related to the need to share everything, hence the importance of social networks today, having so much data and so many people creating information that if you do not use social networks nobody would see it.

There is a great facility to interact with people that something that can be made viral in a matter of minutes. In question of art, this can be admired and shared by more people in less time thanks to these precious social networks. Although this can be something controversial because as well as you can share something you also have to be able to accept opinions from more people that are generally of greater intensity because they are only written, there is no physical interaction.

Analysis

Social media and online platforms give you the chance to be seen by more people than any traditional medium. Through social media channels and online platforms, specifically designed for artists to showcase their art, they can receive mass exposure for their artwork.

People from all walks of life can encounter their art even if by accident. People can share your art on their newsfeed and invite more shares, likes, and follows for your page on Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, and Instagram.

Conclusion 

In conclusion, the murals are the expression of art in the public spaces of the city. They are mostly collective productions associated with projects of institutional and informal interventions with a clear intention to circulate ideas about the world. Values such as solidarity, respect for sexual, regional and religious identities are among its themes. Murals in walls of public institutions or private spaces as a gift to the community or as a gesture committed against oblivion. There will always be a need for humans to express their ideals or opinions about a specific issue; or simply, the need to let the rest of society know who they are, where they come from and where they are going.

Work cited

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