Street art is all around us, from faded advertisements of days gone by to giant, beautiful murals created by some of the world’s best artists. They can carry messages of hope and love, spark political discussions, or simply make statements of time and place. Street art can be a source of beauty, of inspiration, and a chance for people to come together under a common cause.
Street Art Pakistan is an initiative by an organization called Artisan and is dedicated to using the power of street art to bring beauty to the cities of Pakistan. Like many other countries in the world, Pakistan has been subject to graffiti, and Street Art Pakistan is hoping to change the perspective on street art by painting over what is known as “wall chalking.” The illegal practice sees messages scrawled across buildings which can be divisive and frowned upon and, rather than let the practice sully the good name of street art, a few Pakistani citizens have created a collective that changes these instances into moments that beautify, unite, and, for lack of a better term, change the conversation.
The initiative started as a competition to encourage local artists and people to come up with positive and beautiful solutions to wall chalking, and has since grown to a major movement within the country. Each year, different themes are chosen so the messages can point to positive initiatives and ideas, including, according to their website, “Truck art, Education, Peace and Freedom, Provincial Culture, Gates of Lahore and Monuments, Blood Donation, Fight against Dengue, Cleanliness and Culture of Pakistan.”
The Street Art Pakistan initiative has seen great success in its relatively short existence. Started in 2011 with a small but dedicated team, the project has now grown to thousands of people. Every mural and street art piece done under the Street Art Pakistan banner is a collaborative event, using local youth and artists to design and create a positive mural that can cover up the wall chalking. To date, art by the initiative has been featured in fifteen cities spanning three provinces in Pakistan, with over twenty thousand youth participants and over 320,000 sq. ft. of walls covered. It has been praised as a positive initiative that not only helps beautify, but gives Pakistani youth the opportunity to contribute to their communities.
Street Art Pakistan is an excellent example of how murals and street art can contribute to a conversation, all while bringing positivity and beauty to city streets. For Pakistan, a country that faces many obstacles and challenges, programs that help bring hope and comfort are invaluable. Plus, the chance to bring people together in collaborative art projects helps people have a sense of purpose, direction, and the chance to see their hard work be praised and admired for years to come. As Street Art Pakistan expands, hopefully it will create an even more vibrant street art culture that shows the world how talented these artists are.