Talking Walls

Picture 1
Pilsen, Chicago. Formerly a Lithuanian neighborhood, Pilsen has been  home to many Mexican immigrants for the past 60 years. It is undoubtedly full of many of the community’s triumphs and failures and always abundant with culture. Today, this Mexican culture is expressed through food, language, religion, and last but not least art. In Pilsen, there are murals relating to Mexican immigration, historical labor, educational struggles and the never ending fight to achieve equality. Every block seems to have a mural that speaks to this in some degree. For immigrants, this is a form of communication through living, every day pictures.  These images have been historically used, in other countries including Mexico, to convey messages to the general public in a way they can clearly see, understand, and (hopefully) embrace.

Art as a vehicle for communication is also seen in paintings of famous artists like Diego Rivera and Alfaro Siqueiros. Diego Rivera painted murals to express the pain and suffering Mexico experienced during the Mexican Revolution. For example, Rivera’s mural of the exploitation of Mexico by the Spanish conquistadors:

Picture 2

By Diego Rivera

These socially conscious artists paint to share meaningful historical events such as the revolutions, wars, worker rights, and immigration struggles. Arguably, these paintings are just as powerful or even more than the written word because they bring their messages to life.

The following pictures are pictures that I have taken walking through the neighborhood of Pilsen. All artists are unknown.

Picture 3

“Another Day Another Hustle”

Picture 4

“Family Tree: Started from the Bottom”

Picture 5

“The Working Man”

Picture 6

A Nation of Immigrants”

Picture 7

Document Me”

Picture 8


5 responses to “Talking Walls

  1. I very much appreciated this cute cultural nuance. It is extremely powerful that street art can provide deep socially conscious commentary. This blog post touched upon the concept of communication that was mentioned in the Monday Night panel involving “Dreamer” Students. Through writing, art, etc. immigrants can really express any emotion that they feel when they migrate to the United States.

  2. It’s really interesting to see how art is used as a tool to communicate issues on immigration. Also the art really captures the experiences, stories, and inspirations of the artists and it puts the discussion of immigration out there for people to see.

  3. Art is historically used as a form of expression, and I think it is interesting how art is expressed on street murals in Chicago. If you think about it, walls are an important symbol in an immigrant’s life. Not only do some face the physical wall at the border, but there are also the walls that are presented to them in America. The walls preventing them from getting citizenship, or the walls preventing them from feeling welcome in American culture. It’s interesting that these artists use something that has negatively affected them, and they reclaim the walls to protest.

  4. This was really great to read! As someone trying to learn to create paintings with more meaning, this post was extremely interesting to read in that it gives an example of how art can make strong political statements by incorporating symbolic words and imagery. The different art styles were also very cool to see, these are such powerful murals!

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