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Simon Landry

In defense of Montreal’s vibrant and diverse street art scene

Last week’s McGill Daily featured a front-page article titled “Feminist art collective puts the writing on the wall.” This article painted an unfair and extremely incomplete portrait of the vibrant and world-renowned Montreal street art scene. In the article, the author asked “Where are the women? The people of colour? Where are the people who identify as queer, as trans?” in Montreal’s street art. I was shocked that the author couldn’t find these identities in either local murals or the street art community. Many of the city’s most beautiful murals feature women, were made by women, and celebrate cultural diversity. In fact, according to many urban art blogs, one of the world’s best pieces of street art in 2012 was painted by local artist-run collective A’Shop and features a breathtaking 5-story Art Nouveau-inspired Our Lady of Grace. The seeming lack of women in street art could perhaps be attributed to street artists hiding behind noms de plumes: Omen, Zeke, Duc, Arpi, Fanny, Monk-e. The names of these Montreal street artists do not imply gender or orientation, the color of their skin, origins, social class, political affiliation, sexuality or religious belief. Contrary to what is decried in The McGill Daily’s article, it could easily be argued that street art is in fact the ultimate anti-colonial art. Despite street art’s progression into mainstream, the tradition of anonymity remains. If the artist’s name is present, it is often purposely out of the way or artistically distorted, concealed, and integrated in the piece. Since the audience tends to see the art and not the artist, the pieces must speak for themselves. The Daily article was also extremely and unjustly critical of the MURAL festival. The artists invited to the inaugural MURAL festival in 2013 came from around the globe and represented the world’s best urban… Read More