Friday, March 20, 2015


Graffiti or Street Art: Is there a Difference?

One of the things I love to photograph when I travel is the 'art' I see on the public buildings and walls. Which always brings me to ask myself--what is graffiti and what is street art, and is there a difference? In my home town, anything tagged, written, or drawn on public spaces without the consent of the owner is considered graffiti. Most of this is tagging by rival gangs who want to claim their territory and is usually removed by the owner soon after it appears.

Whereas, on Isla Mujeres I saw many examples of what I would call street art. That is, art created by an artist or group for the benefit of the people who live/work in the area. While styles and techniques vary from simple black and white line drawings to full color murals, it all caught my attention and made me stop and take notice. Here are some of my faves. 

Considering there is a Swim-With-the-Dolphins tourist attraction at the south end
of the island, this drawing may be a quiet political protest against that practice.

I don't know the meaning, but I love
the turquoise cat face on the yellow wall.

These two murals (above and below) appear on the front of a public building located next to the town square and tell a pictorial story of the island's Mayan history.

This colorful building is the streetside view
of a three story vacation rental unit.

Unbeknownst to me at the time, these two murals below (along with several others that I did not photograph) are part of a ground-breaking street art project called Sea Walls: Murals for Oceans. Last summer (2014) internationally renowned artists were invited to Isla Mujeres to paint large-scale public murals designed to raise awareness for the need to protect threatened whale sharks and oceanic manta rays. Had I known, I would have made a point to photograph all of them. I guess I'll just have to go back for a second visit!

A mural by Aaron Glasson and Yoh Nagao.

1 comment:

  1. It's possible that some of the world-famous cave art was once regarded as graffiti! "Dang Neanderthal kids, putting their handprints all over everything! Where's their parents?!"