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INNOVATION: The Art of Revolution

03/27/2013

Photograph of Mira Shihadeh's graffiti by and courtesy of Soraya Morayef

Article by cartoonist Dan Murphy

"Graffiti is a dangerous cause as it is, and with perpetual violence against women in Egypt, you’d think female graffiti artists would be too intimidated to work on the city streets," writes Cairo journalist Soraya Morayef.  "But they’re not; they’re young, tough, talented and just as worthy of recognition as their male counterparts."  What follows is a small window into the work of Cairo street artists.

Soraya Morayef's entry, Women in Graffiti: A Tribute to the Women of Egypt, in her blog Suzee in the City that has charted and championed Cairo's nascent graffiti culture, spotlights the women among the artists who have been refashioning that city's walls since the Arab Spring.

Artists like Hanaa El Degham, Mira Shihadeh, Hend Kheera, Laila Magued and Bahia Shehab, who in a powerful recent Tedtalk demonstrated how a wall can turn into a dialogue between the artists and the military, between censorship and defiance.

 

 

"It’s not that street art never existed in Cairo before January 25th [2011]; it’s just that it never breathed this vibrantly before," writes Morayef.  "Graffiti is the one tangible thing we have gained from the revolution."  To see a YouTube slideshow of Cairo graffiti, click on Revolutionary Cairo Street Art.

Painter Ammar Abo Bakr says, "This is not art. Graffiti in Egypt has become an information medium, and alternative medium to traditional mass media."  In the following FreshmilkTV web documentary, Ammar Abo Bakr — Bombs!, Abo Bakr explains: "Because journalists and media are not doing their duty, they hide the truth and won't tell us anything.  I often remind people this is not art ... Don't waste time analyzing the painting style.  This is not art, it's news.  Is there a comparable alternative medium that can spread information, that can tell people what really happened?"

 

 

It is, according to journalist Soraya Morayef, "history being recorded through street art."

Algerian-French artist Zoo Project took wall art a step further -- off the walls and into the streets, alleys and roofs of Tunis, and to a place where there are no solid walls, into the United Nations' refugee camp Choucha on the Libya/Tunisian border.

To see a slideshow of Zoo Project's work, click on Portraits of Martyrs and Refugees.  

Amongst the stencil DIYs on YouTube, FunkMasterKRoc's Stencil Making with Paint.net will take you through the steps using free-downloadable image-editing software from Getpaint.  The system requirements are Windows 7, 8, XPSP3 or Vista SP1.  

Stencil Art 101's YouTube tutorial Photoshop Stencil Making goes through the same drill with Photoshop, and demonstrates how a printer isn't necessary.  Sticker/stencil artist Reti's Youtube channel instructs artists on stencil cutting, multi-layer stenciling and stenciling large stickers without a computer in sight.  And the website Instructables offers a how-to on making your own spray paint can with a pop bottle, bicycle pump, empty spray paint can, hacksaw, drill and a few other things.