Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama is quoted for once saying, "No life stirs in empty rooms where 'Don.t Touch' is the rule." Despite my respect for museums, I wholeheartedly agree. And here on the streets of Rio de Janeiro art is not only free but more importantly accessible. Art here frequents many "bairros" or neighborhoods from iconic areas such as Copacabana and Ipanema to the "favelas" or slums. Perhaps more interesting, is the message behind such form of expression. At first glance the bright colors and sheer massiveness catch one's eye. Yet it's when you look closer and realize the social consciousness they raise that make them so impressive.
In March 2009, the Brazilian government passed law 706/07 decriminalizing street art. Prior to this law, persons caught 'tagging' pichacao or creating grafite; (the artistic expression in public spaces linked to movements) were punished for what was seen as defacing property. Evident by the validation of the government, the perception has shifted from being considered vandalism to art. More than just artistic expression for the artist, street art provides a voice for the often times voiceless by engaging the community not only with the artist but with the world. It is inspiring for other artists and non-artists alike. It is transformative, utilizing the decaying walls in places such as the favelas as canvases for art. After all, they too deserve a beautiful community. Regardless of any law, art is a right afforded to everyone.