Graffiti grabs a following

Katherine Hillier, Editorial Director
Katherine Hillier, Editorial Director

Over the weekend many of Los Angeles’ funky artistic types along with celebrities gathered together in downtown Los Angeles to view the latest artwork from world-renowned graffiti artist Banksy. Known for his creativity and the shocking political statements in his work, Banksy has established a following among everyone from Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, to humble students like myself.

Using highly controversial subject matter in his artwork, Banksy0designs have poked-fun at many social and political conflicts. As a young woman I feel that artists like Banksy are making a noticeable impact on my generation by showing the humor in various hot tested issues. Using classic graffiti styling along with stencils and various other mediums, Banksy has displayed his work throughout the world in quite unusual places.

His paintings will show up anywhere from the underpass of a freeway, atop a billboard or on a wall in Israel, he has taken graffiti to a new level and is changing the way people look at art. In one famous display on the Palestine side of the Israeli west bank barrier, he painted a ladder going over the wall along with other images of children digging a hole through the wall. These images offend some, but their overall messages strike a chord with many young people.

Cameras flashed left and right about images with slogans like, “In the future everyone will be anonymous for 15 minutes,” and “I want to have my cake and eat it, too. And I want you to think I lost weight.” It was phrases like these that sparked emotion and electricity throughout the show. The artist was communicating with us on our own level, and deep inside we felt something. I do want to have my cake and eat it too, and I would prefer not to have it show, does that make me a bad person or just a product of the culture in which I live?

Every piece of artwork brought me closer to an understanding of the world around me. Banksy’s ability to draw attention, often through humor, enables the viewer to step back from an over-saturated issue and view it in a new way.

One example of this is a painting he made of an army tank surrounded by soldiers who have the classic yellow smiley face for heads, and the painting reads “Have A Nice Day.” This image artfully blended the seriousness of war with the facade of peace and harmony that the government would like us to believe is attainable.

Another particular painting that I found interesting was literally on the elephant in the corner. Yes, there was a real life elephant at this show. Banksy had actually painted an elephant in the same colors as the wall that it was standing in front of.

People crowded around to watch this enormous painted elephant standing inside a makeshift living room and munching on straw. This “painting” was supposed to represent the blind eye that the world shows when it comes to poverty, and it certainly caught my attention.Is this the art of the future? The envelope may have just been pushed and it will be interesting to see what happens next.

Banksy has given many people some food for thought in these inspiring pieces of work, and as a young women I really appreciate seeing the world through his eyes and viewing the humor in the situations that create chaos in the world around me.

Katherine Hillier, a senior journalism major, is editorial director of the Campus Times. She can be reached by e-mail at

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