I adore street art. While some people find street art and graffiti distasteful, I truly love a good work of art and enjoying it for free on the side of a building brings more flavor and culture to a place. Like many cities in South America, La Paz has its share of street art which adds to the riot of color already surrounding her vibrant streets.
My favorite pieces of street art were of the Aymara women who are so common on the streets of La Paz. Painted in vivid, bright colors I found these murals lovely. I wondered who had painted them and how long the art had been there. Had they been commissioned or did an artist become inspired to paint it for free?
The sensational colors made my soul sing.
The Aymara are the indigenous people who live in the altiplano (high plains) of the Andes Mountains of Bolivia and are the most prevalent native culture living in La Paz. They have their own set of beliefs, traditions and cultures. They strongly believe in mythology and are highly superstitious as well. I was so curious to know what this painting below meant but never found out.
This mural was located a few blocks away from my hotel so I passed it many times. I love all the colors.
Besides paintings of the Aymara women, there are also lots of politically inspired works. These murals below are depictions of shoe shiners who are found at nearly every busy street in La Paz. They normally dress in all black and wear a face mask. Confused, I asked a few locals what the face mask meant and got a variety of replies. One thought is that they cover their faces to represent shame and disgrace for having such a “low” job. Another theory is that they wear them for protection against the fumes or to hide from their school teachers if they are underage. The last belief is that some of them are addicted to glue and wear the masks so they can sniff glue all day long. I never truly figured out why they wore the masks but I found each explanation intriguing.
In El Alto and around the outskirts of La Paz, there were many murals endorsing Bolivia’s president. I found these ones the most ironic given the fact that Bolivia is basically a dictatorship.
Here are a few more murals that I found while walking around the streets. Each one captured my attention and curiosity about its origin and significance.
I could have spent hours just photographing the art along the streets but alas I had to keep moving. There were many other fascinating subjects to capture on film and I was excited to take it all in.
Stay tuned….more photos from La Paz are coming soon!
It’s a beautiful post. Lovely colors and interesting descriptions. We do see graffiti all around us and it takes a bit of observation and understanding to figure out why it’s there and what for. The murals in your post are excellent and those who painted them for the love of art have my respect. Weren’t they selfless.
Eager to read more posts from you. You have my attention. Thanks.
Thanks so much for the comment! I’m really glad you enjoyed the post and the photos. I thought the art was wonderful especially the murals of the woman in traditional dress.
I love this! There is just so much detail that goes into this artwork that you often forget that these are buildings and think that they are just big canvases. I loved the paragraph about the masks that the shoe shiner murals depict. I like looking at people and thinking about their lives and why they are doing what they are doing, there are just endless possibilities. This street art is amazing because it’s just making you think whilst displaying the culture and I’m so glad I got to read abut it!
Thank you so much for the comment! Times like these I really wish I knew someone local when I was there in La Paz so I could get the stories behind the artwork.
These are fascinating and colorful! Lot of creative works in town.
Amazing images Nicole. My jaw would hang open most of the day should i be walking about. 🙂
Yes Sue it is quite a colorful place. You need to wear your sunglasses because the colors are so vivid and bright!
I like street art when it looks like this.
Me too! 🙂
I love street art too! It can tell you so much of a culture and a country. Street art is usually associated with popular demands, it is the newspaper of the people that can’t access to the media. But in countries like Bolivia and my natal Venezuela the street art is one of the many places where the authoritarian governments publish propaganda, as you may notice.
Thanks for the comment. I have never been to Venezuela but would love to see it someday. I’ve heard it is beautiful!
yes it is! We have amazing landscapes, beaches, mountains and more. Now I don’t recommend to go, because we have economic and social crisis. It’s not very safe now, but you should definitely go someday, when things get better.
These wall murals are wonderful! This type of street art is common in Oaxaca also, and it is very similar to what you have shown. I love walking down an unfamiliar street, turning a corner and seeing a whole new wall of art! I recently posted some murals that are specifically about the Día de los Muertos. https://alaskamexicoandbeyond.wordpress.com/2014/12/22/murals-of-zaachila/
Thank you so much for sharing Marilyn! Loved your post. Those are very creative murals!!!
Thanks for these Nicole, I love street art too 🙂
I have Shikha Patel to thank for discovering this post & your blog — she referenced both our blogs recently. I also follow street art a lot so this post interests me, even more so because decades ago I visited La Paz. It has obviously changed a great deal, thank you for bringing me a bit up to date!
Thanks! I appreciate it! 🙂 do you live in Iceland?