How the Streets of Valparaíso, Chile Illuminate its Essence

High in the hills of Valparaíso, Chile, I admire everything the streets have to offer.

I am from Chicago, a city famous for its streets. Never in my life have I seen life burst from concrete like here in Valparaiso.

Not Just Graffiti, but Art

This is a mural I stumbled across while exploring the seemingly endless hills. It spells “sin miedo,” meaning “without fear.” This beautiful artwork serves great purpose to the local people in a time of fear for their future, their government, and their rights. The presence of these powerful words gives local people the motivation to continue their lives without fear.

Unlike most graffiti, these wall paintings demand passion, direction, and talent. South American street art surpasses North American city standards of graffiti. They take on a whole new aim to convey happiness and culture. I have yet to see an artist actively working on a piece, but that is something I look forward to encountering during my time here.

A personal favorite of mine was this large mural done of a young girl. I admire this because of it’s color usage, the draw out purple tones, and warm undertones emphasize the warmness of her skin or contentedness of her mood. There I stand mimicking her strong pose, but unlike the painting a forceful seaside wind takes my hair.

This art piece made me realize the obvious globalization that exists in this city. This mural is not of Chilean people, it is of people of African descent. People from all over the world come and share their culture, their people, and perspectives through this free medium of street art. The city has welcomed global expressions, which makes its art that much more influential.

Another beautiful example of art from other cultures. Marilyn Monroe, and the Beatles pictured in large mural. If you look closely in upper left corner you’re able to see Elvis, a stormtropper, and another icon. Influences from my home country makes it that much easier for me to find ease in a large city, and feel that I have a place here.

Another thing I find particularly unique to Valparaíso is the use of layering on top of other completed art to shift it’s meaning or make it anew. This colorful painting of fish and/or eels was renovated by another artist, simply by adding masking tape letters to form the phrase, “¿Qué estas haciendo para cambiar el mundo?” This phrase spoke to me loudly, “What are you doing to change the world?”

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