Street Art: Medellin’s Voice of the People

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Creative expression can be found in many forms. Street art is often a form of expression for those who don’t have other means. It can convey a personal message, or it can be a broader reflection of culture and the conditions of the society in which it’s found. While the word graffiti has negative connotations, street art has today found a place in the hearts of many art lovers. Medellin street art really captured our imagination.

Wizard Graffiti near the Medellin Museum of Modern Art

Nature-Wizard Graffiti near the Medellin Museum of Modern Art

Medellin Street Art

Although street art in Medellin is not exactly illegal, laws are not entirely clear either. Authorities are sometimes overzealous in their anti-graffiti campaigns. In November and December of 2013, there were movements (“La Otra Toma del Graffiti Libre“) in Medellin and other major cities in Colombia, initially in reaction to a graffiti-related scandal caused by (believe it or not, Justin Bieber). The street art communities reacted in a smart and productive way, utilizing their art and social media to make a strong statement. The solidarity of those in defense of free expression is undeniably strong. In Medellin, artists took San Juan Avenue as their canvas for 24 hours and created a whole new awareness of public art.

Sweeping it under the brick, Medellin graffiti

Stencil graffiti of a maid sweeping it all under the building. Love how the natural brick is used.

Everywhere we went in Medellin there was art: from wall collages and murals to simple drawings and messages. In the Poblado neighborhood, where we stayed, there were some great pieces among the trendy cafes and bars. There were more on the low wall on the way to the Metro station. One large mural seems to have been a sponsored advertisement for a local beer.

Medellin street art, corporate ad

Building-sized mural showing DJ spinning at a party featuring Pilsen beer

One entire street behind the Medellin Museum of Modern Art is dedicated to Medellin street art. Artists were given permission to create permanent installments there, and they’re beautifully created. The street art continues along the wall of a public park and on the buildings near the skate park. Even one of the trees here has been adorned and given knowing-looking eyes. The works definitely enhance the neighborhood, giving it a decidedly “artsy” feel.

Graffiti of Dali

Dali-themed piece near Medellin Museum of Modern Art

Near the Medellin Botanical Garden, the support columns underneath the elevated Metro have been given unique designs.

Jellyfish play a role in Medellin graffiti

Underwater theme on support column under the Metro

Click on the images below for a larger view! Can’t get enough street art? Check out our collections from Bogota and Cartagena!

About the author

Tamara and Donny have wandered together since 2004, with no cure for their insatiable wanderlust. They write about discovering new destinations including beautiful photography, plus budget travel tips and how to give back through travel.