Far From Buenos Aires’ Tourist Traps, Street Artists Are Giving a Voice to the Voiceless

The late-day sun illuminated the street around us as we stepped out of the car in Isla Maciel, a predominantly poor neighborhood on the outskirts of Buenos Aires. As we ascended a nearby set of stairs leading to the entrance of an elementary school and made our way through the lobby, a mural in the corner jumped out at me.

It depicted a skeleton with spiked shoulder straps, his face pointed down toward a microphone. He was draped in a distressed American flag, his eyes projecting rage. With his sharp features accentuating his boxy figure, it was reminiscent of a documentary I’d once seen on Cold War propaganda.

Isla Maciel lies just a stone’s throw across the river from Caminito, a well-known tourist trap boasting $15 crepes, tango dancers that sensuously wrap their legs around you for tips, and local craft shops with a suspicious number of “Made In China” labels. For the past several years, a compelling story has been unfolding in Isla Maciel, home to nearly 5,000 residents boxed in by the river on one side and a bustling highway on the other.

A diverse group of young artists have been working to create better conditions for the people living here, and they’ve proposed an unusual solution: to cover every inch of this blighted neighborhood with street art and murals like the one in the school’s lobby, which was painted by a 13-year-old. Their hope is that the art will bring a source of pride to a community with no landmarks to speak of, and help give a voice to people living on the margins.

You can read the full piece at Mic here.

CreativeMornings Chapters Come in All Shapes and Sizes

Reposted with permission from CreativeMornings.

CreativeMornings/DC is a behemoth, with tickets selling out in minutes and venues holding hundreds of people, usually time to meet and talk with just a minuscule number of the interesting people assembled for any given event.

When I visited CreativeMornings/BUE, I found myself in a much more intimate setting, located in a government-funded industrial park that houses varying creative initiatives throughout the city. I arrived in the midst of a downpour, but the host of the chapter, Laura Marcello, was nonetheless beaming as I walked through the doors. “Thank you so much for coming,” she warmly welcomed, her six year old son in-tow. Pedro scurried around the two dozen assembled participants, acting as the unofficial CreativeMornings greeter and serving up a natural dose of caffeine as we waited for the coffee to arrive. It almost felt like CreativeMornings was being hosted in Laura’s living room, an intimateness that served as a nice shift from the hustle and bustle of previous cities.