Walls: A Canvas for Awareness and Change

dharamsala dalai lama recycling mural 1
The burst of colours on a withered wall, the wise words that can make a passerby’s day, and the general sense of aesthetic is why people love wall art. And let’s be honest, we’ve all stopped to admire the thought and work that goes behind painting the entire wall once in a while. Though the trend of wall art and street artists is taking baby steps in India, from what we see it is one interesting way to make the walls speak.
Be it quirky wall art which is a splash of colors to make it look beautiful or a meaningful message about feminism and mental health that gets spread across with this means of art it is always attracting and appealing to the public.
For Waste Warriors, wall art is not just a tool for decoration it is means of awareness-raising as well. We work with artists and volunteers both local and international, in order to beautify spaces and educate people about taking care of the environment. This also deals with the problem of posters which cover almost every wall.
Shiva mural before and after 1
Wall art done by husband and wife team Pan Trinity Das (Canada) and Kyrie Maezumi (U.S) in support of our work. These murals were done in 2014 and 2016 and spread awareness about issues like pollution and waste.
“Mother Earth is a temple not a dustbin” says one. “Be kind like Krishna. Animals have feelings too” says the other. It is ingenious to choose gods as a contrivance. These murals definitely appeal more to the majority of the population since it is feels like god himself is telling you not to litter. These murals compel people to think about the cleanliness of the city and not litter. These wall murals also enhance the beauty of the walls and people are less likely to dirty the wall if the surface is beautiful.
ambala wicked broz wall mural 1
Street art like this in Ambala also promote the importance of cleanliness and waste segregation through art and creativity. The people featured on the wall are sanitation workers from the Ambala Municipal Corporation. The words coming from the cartoon style dustbins says "Who are these people?" with "These are soldiers of cleanliness (Swacchta Sainani) as the very fitting response! These wall murals were done by Waste Warriors in collaboration with Wicked Broz who are a collective of artists who love to inject art into walls, bringing them alive with thought provoking messages. The collective’s goal is to get art out of art galleries and into the streets whilst representing the underground cultural revolution happening in India.
Graffiti writing and wall art while both are subversive art movements where work is displayed in public rather than a gallery setting. While graffiti artists place their work in public, generally speaking they are not interested in the public understanding their work; their work speaks to other graffiti artists. Wall artists want everyone to view and be engaged with their work. They are trying to make a statement of awareness. Graffiti writing and wall art are closely related contemporary art movements, however, they differ in terms of technique, function and intent.
While graffiti in many nations is without the property owner’s authorization and is considered destructive and vandalism, the messages they give can be very personal. Wall murals are done with the rightful permission and have messages which are community oriented and to raise awareness.
Despite of the combined efforts of Waste Warriors and the artists who help make these murals, people still stick posters on those walls and dirty the walls all over again and it is a real displeasure to pass by the walls and see them in a dilapidated state. This led to several occasions where we had to refresh the walls and remove posters again. With our brushes in hand, it was the time for the beautification of these existing wall murals both in Dehradun and Dharamsala, and Waste Warriors set out to do just that. We put in our efforts to redo the ruined areas and scrape off the multiple posters that had been there for a very long time and we were able to slightly touch up the art with the support of our volunteers and also received a lot of positive feedback and support from the people passing through the road.
dehradun wall mural before after
But is the public lacking a basic level of awareness to not understand that walls are not meant for sticking posters? The problem of waste, especially plastics, has persisted in the world for a long time, but how often do we think about it in our daily lives? The answer is not very pleasant but when people see these murals, they will think about this issue even it is only for a split second.
Waste Warriors uses wall murals as a urban/suburban way of raising awareness about waste and this helps to keep the city area clean. The work started by Waste Warriors is being continued by many other NGO’s now and it is a delight to see these painted wall murals all over the town. So if you are an artist and want to help us, we encourage you to contact us and come join us for this cause.