Street Art enters the Intitute and the Museum

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Sandra Figueras

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Now that the eighth edition of the programme Creators in Residence in the institutes of Barcelona has just started and we are beginning our fourth year as mediators, we would like to share here the experience of the last course with the street artist BTOY.

Walls of the street, the institute and the museum

The starting points for choosing the topic were: the intuition that street art could be of interest to the age range corresponding to institute students (secondary school), that the wall as support is connected to Romanesque art and as such with the museum, and finally, that carrying out a mural in a collective way was a good aim for a collaborative project such as In Residence.

Street art is a term which extends the borders of what we generally understand as graffiti and which is used to call artistic manifestations that are done in the public space in contrast with the art which is exhibited in the galleries and the art centres.  It isn’t easy either to limit it in terms of techniques because it is manifested more and more through more diverse languages: stencils, stickers, actions, etc.

It is evident that the street is a territory for communication and it is increasingly full of images that speak to us, and transferring this communicative power to the walls of an institute could be a very good process indeed. The buildings that belong to the educational centres are often very impersonal and are full of grey walls that surround the playground or courtyard. That’s why the aim was clear from the outset: to produce a permanent mural in the institute.  The IES Domènech i Montaner secondary school agreed with this and with the team they decided on a suitable wall to do it.

In this three-sided relation creator/institute/mediation that In Residence proposes, we, as a third leg, apart from our experience in the field of education, contribute the collection and everything that the museum signifies.  And that’s why whenever we have suggested that they bear it in mind in their processes, we have provided them with access to all the areas of the museum and the contacts with the professionals, etc.

Although an art such as street art which is so new and so un-institutional can seem, a priori, to be so far from what is conserved in the museum, it has an evident link with the Romanesque walls of the collection, also full of messages for those who looked at them a thousand years ago. That’s why it was proposed to the creator to finish the residency with a second mural within the museum, for the significance painting a collective contemporary mural could have, just a few metres away from the frescos with more than a thousand years of history.

The resident creator

Born in Barcelona and known above all for her street artist name BTOY, Andrea Michaelsson has been creating her stencils and paintings in the street since 2001.  Her murals, prints and canvases that often show iconic women from the pop culture, can be found in the streets and galleries of Barcelona, London and Paris, among many other European cities, but also in South America and even Indonesia.

The project in the institute and the work process

The first part of the residency consisted of becoming familiar with the work and interests of the creator, and a tour was carried out of murals in the  neighbourhood of Poble Nou, where the students were able to see first-hand a couple of large-scale works of Andrea.

In this first contact, the students also learnt the technique of stencil or templates. The results of these small format tests were exhibited in the foyer of the institute, and later on in the lecture hall of the public library of the neighbourhood, the Francesc Candel library.

From January onwards, the residency started to focus on the mural that would be done in the school, the first step being to decide what motifs could be dealt with.  Afterwards, a series of photographic sessions were held so as to find the characters who would appear in the mural.

The next step was to treat the photos so as to turn them into templates.  The treated images were projected in large format, which allowed them to be drawn on cardboard, and finally to cut them out to get the stencils.

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The last phase of the project consisted of preparing the wall chosen of the institute, situated on a terrace of the courtyard.  The works began with a background based on geometries created by the students, and finally, with sprays and by means of templates, the characters of the mural were painted.

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While Andrea and the group were fully involved in the artistic process in the institute, a group was organised so as to conceive the second mural that would go in the museum, to be carried out during the last three weeks of the residency.

Mural in the institute

Mural in the museum

Strengths of the residency

  • the topic and support that BTOY works with have been interesting for the students from the outset, and the street art has been a focus of interest for the teenagers.
  • the fact that the group was of 15 students has favoured the residency. The majority chose this optional subject due to the interest in the project and the topic.
  • the blog was defined as a fixed task of the third hour of the residency. The teacher also established the fact that the students should write the entrances of the blog and should also take the photos.  In this way it has been a self-managed diary and continually updated.
  • the fact that the creator started from the outset with a practical process, teaching them the stencil/template technique was a great success as it provided the students with confidence and motivation.

Weaknesses: to reflect on

  • the school showed a lot of interest in organising the excursions, but despite this there was very little flexibility in terms of timetables, even though it was sometimes necessary.
  • no collaboration has been possible with other teachers from the institute; neither the spaces nor the ways were found for this to be possible.
  • the creator expressed the fact that it would have helped to have the complicity of a Visual and Plastic Arts teacher, to complement and strengthen the process of conception and development of the mural.
  • the degree of involvement of the students in the final project has not been equal, there have been different levels of interest and participation. It has not been possible to redirect the lack of motivation of some of them.
  • the mediation could have been more present in the classroom; this year we carried out a more organisational support and in terms of management, but in hindsight we could have given more support during the conception process of the mural, the moment in which the creator found it more difficult to motivate the students.

 Recommended links

Street Art Bio | Street Artist Biographies

Women Street Artists

Street Art & Graffiti

Compte d’Instagram de @Troballola

Global Street Art

Street Art Utopia

Sandra Figueras
Servei educatiu

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