Learn the words amnesty, aegis, ravage, ensue, wield and five more words in the context of Street Art in a new Vocabulary Builder episode from English Plus Podcast.
With the rapid spread of industry and the ensuing transformation of the urban landscape, city dwellers have found themselves living in increasingly bleak surroundings. Graffiti writers, in their attempts to adorn the bare walls of their environment, have become the scourge of politicians and police. Under the aegis of neighborhood planning boards and even some mayors, however, what was once vandalism is now being converted into community art.
Many wall-writers, tired of wielding spray-paint cans and dodging police, have, on their own, branched into safer and more remunerative forms of art. Some have redirected their efforts from buildings, bridges, and fences to tee shirts, theatrical stage sets, and compact disc covers. Others have adapted their messages to advertising, gracing the walls of commercial establishments with graffiti-style signs.
It is the amnesty programs for graffiti writers that have been most successful at turning eyesores into art. In many large cities, former scrawlers now work to beautify the walls they once ravaged. Part government agency, part social service organization, and part art workshop, each group paints its town in rich hues while learning discipline, responsibility, and cooperation.
The street artists begin by obtaining the necessary permission to use unsightly fences, abandoned buildings, and blank walls as the canvases for astonishing murals. They seek ideas from local residents so that the paintings will reflect neighborhood heritage and values. Hours of effort are required to turn a vision into reality. Once the design conception is refined, graffiti writers and neighborhood volunteers erect a scaffold, scrape and whitewash the surface, and create a grid for the sketch. Professional artists may be hired to transfer the design to the larger surface, but it is the ex-wall writers and members of the community who add the color and the detail to exotic tropical gardens, portraits or illustrious sports stars, and memorable scenes from history. Each of the murals is a treasured asset and a source of pride for its neighborhood. Like giant postcards or living museum walls, these murals carry a message that everyone can understand. By channeling the talents of graffiti artists into community art, color triumphs over drabness in constructive self-expression.
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