The Word on the Street
Urban Art Offers Beauty, a Laugh, Some Hope
Throughout this country and across the globe, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought out the worst and best in people. At their worst, people flagrantly disregard health officials’ guidelines to stay home, wear masks if going in public and even spitting in the faces of store clerks. The worst case scenario was a security guard being shot and killed by people who were turned away from a store for not following the store’s policy for wearing face masks.
On the positive side, hundreds upon hundreds of people have donated their time and materials to make face masks for nurses, doctors and the rest of us so that we can be safe when we do go out. That has been no exception here in the Ohio Valley where teams of women and yes, men, too, have stitched late into the evening hours to make the protective gear.
There have been wonderful displays of gratitude from individuals, businesses and home bakers who send food to the front-line troops of medical personnel, first responders, restaurant and shop workers and others carrying on necessary business for the rest of us.
I have been amazed and grateful for the positive messages on social media that have eased some of the loneliness and heartbreak of being separated from loved ones. Educators, musicians, artists and other talented people have posted ways to keep us entertained, educated and connected through the darkness of the disease that has taken so many from us.
Locally, churches and businesses have been posting messages of hope on outdoor message boards. At Wheeling Country Day School, a beautiful piece of artwork can be seen along the fence in the parking lot. It carries the message, “Hope begins in the dark … the dawn will come.”
Throughout the world, the Associated Press found amazing messages of hope and warnings scrawled or masterfully crafted on walls and roads.
In some cases, the art urges people to follow safety advice.
Celebrities and politicians are depicted wearing masks.
In Prague, people take photos of a graffiti image of John Lennon, whose nose and mouth are covered with a fabric mask that says, “All you need is love,” the title of the Beatles’1967 song.
Coronavirus germs depicted as cartoon villains are spray-painted on streets and walls in India and Kenya to get people to take precautions to prevent the disease from spreading.
While street art around the world is giving people something thought-provoking or entertaining to gaze at from behind their masks, it also can provide a glimmer of hope.
Even sidewalk chalk are has sprouted up around the local area. On Wheeling’s walking trail, it’s not unusual to find chalk drawings of stick people, flowers and sunshine. Now that’s a good thing.