I live in a neighborhood that is full of graffiti and street art. Some is terrible, some is incredible. Overall, I am grateful for this aspect of where I live. In an age where people are bombarded with carefully calculated ads meant to make us feel insecure, inadequate, and that we need to buy a bunch of stuff we don’t need, I think that the talented street artists perform a legitimate service, a sort of visual activism or civil disobedience. They freely and anonymously offer us compelling imagery that provides a tiny bit of relief amidst the constant ocular assault of our culture, which often seems to place a much higher value on our sugar intake than our appreciation of art. On the other hand, some graffiti artists just obsessively scribble their name on stuff and remind me of my dog and his unending mission to pee on every fire hydrant and tree in Brooklyn: I don’t really see the point.
Speaking of my dog, yesterday I was walking him and we passed, as we often do, this We Are All Buddhas proclamation (I took the pic a while ago but it’s still up).
This reminded me of my somewhat forgotten idea to do a little “Buddhist graffiti/street art roundup” for the blog. Regarding Buddhist graffiti and street art, I should probably be clear that my appreciation is more that of an art enthusiast than a Buddhist. While I do somewhat agree with those who believe that even a simple Buddhist image can be a blessing for those that see it, I think that practicing the dharma is much more important than looking at visual depictions of it.
I’ve also heard people say they think Buddhist graffiti is disrespectful to Buddhism, and while I respect these concerns, I don’t agree. People have been painting Buddhist images on walls, rocks, and in caves for centuries and I applaud the efforts of anyone who puts in the time and energy needed to created a compelling work of art.
Anyway, here are some pieces I’ve found around the web:
Compassion (His Holiness the Dalai Lama) by Shepard Fairey
Bodhidharma by ?
…and of course, there is this rather famous piece by Banksy:
*The key image at the top of the post is by Cryptik
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