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!