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Discovering Banksy

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The talented, mysterious, and often controversial street artist; Banksy, has made a name for himself in various places around the world. Banksy is ultimately famous for his artwork, but his true identity remains unknown. Banksy allows his artwork to speak as his identity instead. His work relay messages and tends to obtain a sarcastic and gloomy feel to them. His work has also grabbed a lot of controversy and attention.
Banksy is believed to have grown up in Bristol, England. Very little is known about Banksy’s early life. This is mostly because his identity is concealed and there has been a very small amount of face to face interviews with Banksy. He had first began graffiti art in the early 1990s in his hometown. His early work was a mixture of freehand and stencil work but as he progressed as an artist and became increasingly popular, his style evolved to become predominantly stencil work.
Banksy lets his artwork do the talking for him. Most of what is known about Banksy is gathered from his artwork. Each of his pieces speak an idea or belief relevant to today’s society. Including social, political, and universal topics. What’s interesting about Banksy is his ability to focus the attention on the art instead of the artist.
The majority of Banksy’s work is illegal graffiti art in various places around the world. A couple of Banksy’s most famous pieces are the “Flower Thrower”, “Bomb Hugger”, “Sweep it Under the Carpet”, and his works on the Palestine West Bank Barrier. Banksy’s “Flower Thrower” is located in Jerusalem and shows a masked man rioting and throwing a bouquet of flowers. This is viewed as a symbol of peace and hope in regards to street riots. Instead of the man throwing a bomb he is throwing colorful flowers symbolizing peace. Banksy’s other work titled “Bomb Hugger” is located in London and pictures a girl hugging a bomb. This peace is thought to unify war and peace because the innocence and good of the girl contradicts with the bad and evil associated with war. “Sweep it Under the Carpet” is one of his works located in London as well. This painting pictures a maid sweeping dirt and dust underneath a cover and onto the brick wall it resides on. This work is believed to represent the western world’s refusal to deal with global epidemics and other issues. Banksy has done a series of works on the West Bank Barrier. The West Bank Barrier was built by the Israeli government in 2002 and acts as a separation barrier. Banksy has made several works on the wall that ultimately send messages of hope and depict innocence on violent subjects. For example, a girl is painted holding a gathering of balloons that are lifting her up and over the wall. Another piece of his artwork pictures a break in the wall with a beach scene in the break symbolizing hope. A young boy painting a ladder that reaches the top of the wall is also painted to show innocence within cruel reality.
Banksy has done much more than just his stencil graffiti. Sculptures tend to pop up in the streets as well. In 2006 Banksy placed a bent and vandalized sculpture of a telephone booth in Soho, London. This sculpture caused an uproar in London as people debated whether it is vandalism or art. Banksy also opened up his very own theme park as well. The theme park “Dismaland” is a dark twist on other theme parks such as Disneyland. This theme park featured work from over 15 artists. Some works reference current issues such as the Syrian refugee crisis and Seaworld animal abuse. Others reference an event such as Princess Diana’s death represented through Cinderella’s crashed carriage with paparazzi flashing photos of the incident. A girl dressed in a wetsuit holds up a large hoop for a killer whale to jump through and into a very small pool references how Seaworld treats their animals. Dismaland was only open to the public for five weeks. After its permanent closing it opened for sheltering of Syrian refugees.
Banksy has caught the attention of many and has caused controversy with his work. While some people praise and enjoy his work, others feel quite the opposite. People question his ideas and whether his illegal graffiti can actually be considered art. On the flip side, people love his artwork and the messages he communicates through them. While talking to both students and teachers at Warwick Valley high school most feedback was fairly positive. Lauren De Leon, a sophomore at Warwick Valley says “Banksy is a really interesting artist and his work really inspires me to be more creative. I love how his work symbolizes global and social topics. I feel Banksy has made an impact on how I view street art.” Mr. Mita a teacher at Warwick Valley High school stated “Anybody who likes Banksy is either an idiot or a genius.”

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Discovering Banksy