All posts tagged: Africa

YZ and Her “Amazone” Women Warriors on Senegalese Walls

YZ and Her “Amazone” Women Warriors on Senegalese Walls

According to historical accounts of the First Franco-Dahomean War, in the 1890s it was the highly trained military women who were chopping off the heads of the French.  Sometimes while they slept.

French Street Artist YZ Yseult has begun her own campaign to pay tribute to the fierce female fighters of the 19th Century West African country of Dahomey, who are more commonly referred to as Amazons. A startling narrative of female power not often heard today for some, but as YZ is researching her own history as a descendent from slaves, her portraits reflect a personal impetus to tell these stories with a new force.  She has named this series of strong warriors on the street “Amazone”.

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YZ “Amazone” Senegal. West Africa (photo © YZ)

Back in her former Senegal now to do research for the project, she says there are many female figures who we may not know of in current times, but who may provide crucial inspiration, possibly bolstering the confidence of women in 2015 to advocate for their positions and opinions. “I want to show warriors from ancient times; revolutionists, anti-colonialists, intellectual women who have written the story of Africa. We need figures to be proud of our roots, to keep fighting for our rights, and to write the story of tomorrow.”

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YZ “Amazone” Senegal. West Africa (photo © YZ)

Wheat pasted on walls in a few cities on the west coast of Senegal, south of Dakar, these proud figures project images of strength and determination even when placed on the corrugated metal of small humble structures. “Many times these small handmade metal shops are owned by women for selling breakfast or bread,” she says of the hut-like edifices. “While doing research on women in Africa, I have been compiling a photographic archive,” she says.

“I’ve been searching for the places that could come into resonance with the subject. I’m looking for locations that communicate the historic perspective of the project as well as those that may draw a parallel with present issues.”

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YZ “Amazone” Senegal. West Africa (photo © YZ)

The campaign is only a few months old, but it is a work in progress and YZ is sure to discover more as she continues to research over the next two, possibly three years. She says she is strongly moved by what she has learned about women who emerged as slaves and from slavery and she feels a connection to that history.

“Many women have fought for their rights and the rights of their people, yet few of them have been recognized for their achievements and many stayed unknown,” she says. “To know where we are going we need to know where we have been, and these stories are important to educate the next generation, especially women.”

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YZ “Amazone” Senegal. West Africa (photo © YZ)

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YZ “Amazone” Senegal. West Africa (photo © YZ)

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YZ “Amazone” Senegal. West Africa (photo © YZ)

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YZ “Amazone” Senegal. West Africa (photo © YZ)

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YZ “Amazone” Senegal. West Africa (photo © YZ)

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YZ “Amazone” Senegal. West Africa (photo © YZ)

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YZ “Amazone” Senegal. West Africa (photo © YZ)

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YZ “Amazone” Senegal. West Africa (photo © YZ)

 

 

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This article is also published on The Huffington Post

 
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ROA Photo Diary : Taking a Wild Kingdom to Global Streets

ROA Photo Diary : Taking a Wild Kingdom to Global Streets

New Images from Brazil, The Gambia, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Rome

We check in today with the ever evolving itinerary of the singularly nomadic Street Art urban naturalist named ROA. The well known and respected aerosol painter hails from Ghent in Belgium but he is rarely there these days, so busy is he introducing his monochromatic pictorials of the marginalized animal world. Despite the immense variety of his subjects that are reflective of the local population, ROA’s style is unmistakeable, as is his choice of difficult and imperfect surfaces on which to paint.  Some times his subject is playful or alert, other times they are in a struggle, still others are dead or dessicated; paying full respect to the cycle of life and death.

As if to remind us of our own sorry impact, once in a while they are ensnared and suffering in our unthinking detritus.  Not surprisingly, a number of the animals are endangered and his painting can often take on an environmental advocacy as a result.

Here we travel with ROA through six countries to see where he has been painting and to learn a little about the environment that these new stars of the street have debuted upon.

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ROA. The Gambia. (photo © Roa)

The Gambia, Africa

On his third visit to The Gambia for the WOW festival, ROA had the opportunity to paint a yellow caterpillar, a flying serpent, the Pinned Scarabée and some pangolins in the villages of Kembujeh and Galloya. He says, “I will be back, it’s amazing” and would like to thank all the folks who live in those villages as well as the organizer of WOW, Lawrence.

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ROA. The Gambia. (photo © Roa)

“I’ve painted a pangolin before in The Gambia but being back there and having read so much during the past year about the illegal trafficking of pangolins – to be served as exotic food or mostly as a ‘medicine’, I needed to paint them again. Firstly, the so-called medical qualities of the ground-up scales are disputed and “the animals are currently on the list of endangered species because of the trafficking and the loss of habitat by deforestation in Africa,” explains ROA. He notes that one of their attempts to protect themselves is to reconfigure their appearance.  “They can roll up into a ball to defend themselves,” he says.

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ROA. The Gambia. (photo © Roa)

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ROA. The Gambia. (photo © Roa)

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ROA. A yellow caterpillar in The Gambia. (photo © Roa)

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ROA plays with your eye in this two room installation of a skeletal remains in Brazil. (photo © Roa)

Brazil, South America

In the past few months ROA has been to Brazil twice, and neither time to see the World Cup. Instead he has been backpacking around and doing “many small interventions in between beautiful beaches.” While the insects in some of these paintings are originally small, their final scale on the walls are definitely not.

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ROA. Brazil. (photo © Roa)

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ROA. Brazil. (photo © Roa)

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ROA. Brazil. (photo © Roa)

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ROA. Brazil. (photo © Roa)

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A rare near-optical piece by ROA, this microscopic milieu will be familiar to any kid who attended Biology class. Aside from the factual and the metaphorical, these fellas have a dropped shadow, giving the scene added dimension in Brazil. (photo © Roa)

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ROA. Brazil. (photo © Roa)

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ROA. Brazil. (photo © Roa)

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ROA. Brazil. (photo © Roa)

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ROA. Brazil. (photo © Roa)

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ROA. Brazil. (photo © Roa)

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ROA. Perth. (photo © Roa)

Perth, Australia

While participating in Form’s PUBLIC festival, ROA painted a serpent eating his own tail; a design that refers to ouroboros, an ancient mythological symbol. He says that Australian aboriginal people believe “the serpent has a great symbolic value as ‘The Rainbow Serpent.’ “.

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“Also for PUBLIC in Wolf Lane I painted an Australian possum,” says ROA of this piece in Perth. (photo © Roa)

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ROA.  Christchurch, New Zealand. (photo © Roa)

Christchurch, New Zealand

While painting the facade of the Canterbury Museum in Christchurch for the RISE festival, ROA decided to mix the dead with the living – “It’s a MOA skeleton with a kiwi!” he says. He explains that the moa was native to New Zealand, and flightless (like the kiwi), but the moa died out after humans settled the region.

In fact the Canterbury museum has a large collection of moa bones and skeletons and ROA understands that the museum is said to swap bones with other natural history museums to enlarge their own varied and large collection. One legend, according to the artist, “goes that they swapped some moa bones for the mummy they exhibit.

The site of the painting here has particular significance to the people of Christchurch as only a few years ago in 2010 and 2011 the city suffered serious and damaging earthquakes and almost 200 people died near here. The actual museum was well protected, but many buildings were heavily damaged and survivors still speak “about post-eartquake times, characterized by change and more social awareness,” he says, making this museum, “a very special place to be.”

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Inside the Canterbury Museum in Christchurch Roa painted this penguin on the ceiling. (photo © Roa)

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ROA. Nelson, New Zealand. (photo © Roa)

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ROA. Nelson, New Zealand. (photo © Roa)

Nelson, New Zealand

Roa would like to extend his thanks to Eelco and Ali from The Free House, as well as George and Shannon for his time in Nelson.

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ROA. Nelson, New Zealand. (photo © Roa)

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ROA. Dunedin, New Zealand. (photo © Roa)

Dunedin, New Zealand

“I painted a tuatara in Dunedin,” he says, of the indigenous reptile.

ROA would like to say thanks to Justin and Luke for their hospitality.

 

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ROA. Tenerife, Spain. (photo © Roa)

Tenerife, Spain

“At the invitation of the MUECA festival in Puerto de La Cruz, I painted my first large scale insect wall!” exclaims ROA, who looks for ways to keep challenging himself. He says that this was a composition that included,  “Lots of different little creatures to paint,” which was rather demanding, but he didn’t mind too much because, “it was a beautiful environment and atmosphere.”

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ROA. Riga. (photo © Roa)

Riga, Spain

There was a lot of bad weather in Riga during the Blank Canvas festival that ROA participated in, but “I got to paint the hedgehog and hopefully I will be back there soon to paint more,” he remarks.

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ROA. Rome. (photo © Roa)

ROME, Italy

Finally, we end our tour with ROA in the famous city of Rome, where he visited for the very first time. He says that it is a “wonderful city” and he painted this wolf “referencing the legend of the founding of the city.”

Roa extends his thanks to Stefano and Francesca of 999 in Rome.

 

 

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Please note: All content including images and text are © BrooklynStreetArt.com, unless otherwise noted. We like sharing BSA content for non-commercial purposes as long as you credit the photographer(s) and BSA, include a link to the original article URL and do not remove the photographer’s name from the .jpg file. Otherwise, please refrain from re-posting. Thanks!

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“I Art Joburg” with Monica Campana in South Africa

Today we welcome Monica Compana to BSA to share with you her experiences during a recent Street Art/community program in Johannesburg, South Africa that took place in September. As one of the principal originators of Atlanta’s Living Walls festival, Campana brings a wizened eye to the events as they unfolded, and presents here what she observed and experienced. Special thanks to Martha Cooper, who shares with BSA images that display her personal vision of Joburg and some layouts from her new zine “Soweto/Sowebo”.

Considered one of the wealthiest cities in Africa, Johannesburg is not only rich in gold and diamonds, but also rich in arts and culture. In the month of September, Johannesburg hosted the largest mural project in the city and possibly even the continent.

I Art Joburg brought the artists Espo, ROA, Cameron Platter, Falko, Remed and graffiti photographer legend Martha Cooper to South Africa to create art in the streets, start a dialogue about street art in the city and to document a month where artists worked together alongside a commercial production team and community members to bring color to Joburg and Soweto.

ROA (photo © Martha Cooper)

“Color creates energy, energy creates inspiration and inspiration creates change. It is our responsibility to inspire ourselves to inspire others to inspire the change. Art is the remedy for this,” says Ricky Lee Gordon, organizer and curator of I Art Joburg.

Gordon’s carefully selected list of renowned street artists not only managed to put the festival amongst one of the best ones of the year, but also it created a chemistry between artists and community. With 6 murals installed around the Maboneng Precinct it hosted a night of lectures and the screening of Espo’s “Love Letters to You” documentary. The precinct is also referred to as “a place of light”, as it is a hub for young creatives and artists, and it also hosted a gallery exhibit by the participating artists.

ROA (photo © Monica Campana

To inspire kids from a local school, organizers created a workshop and a mural with kids in Soweto, a name synonymous in the northern hemisphere with the historic anti-apartheid black resistance movement that inspired so many artists in the 70s-80s around the world. The name Soweto has an auditory similarity to the neighborhood of Sowebo in Baltimore, which photographer Martha Cooper has been documenting as a personal passion for nearly a decade.

Already in Joburg to document all of the murals and exhibit her own work, she took the experience and project to a whole new level with the development of her zine titled: “Soweto/Sowebo.” Martha owns a house in South West Baltimore, also known as Sowebo, an area so affected by urban decay that it is often compared to Soweto in South Africa. Needless to say, when she  arrived in Soweto she immediately saw the similarities and she decided to create a zine honoring the richness of both cultures.  It was fascinating to see through her work how these two places, so far away from each other geographically in two completely different continents, could pass as one and the same.

ROA (photo © Martha Cooper)

Soweto/ Sowebo was not the only example of this wonderful dialogue. Each artist tried to leave something to the city of Joburg that would not only last for a long time visually, but something that could continue to spark some kind of dialogue. During my stay in Joburg I was able to spend quite a bit of time with ROA and Martha Cooper.  It was amazing to see how their easily  they interacted with the people on the streets of the city and even though they had been there for only about a week by the time that I arrived, Martha and ROA had already made dear friends in the neighborhood.

ROA and Falko (photo © Martha Cooper)

On the subject of friends we made: Bongani Mathebula, my Joburg tour guide, is the one that stole my heart. Seeing the city through the eyes of a local 25 year old artist was very inspirational. He told me that projects like I Art Joburg are what the city of Johannesburg needs – an outsider’s view and conversation starter to inspire the local community.

“Artists are like heroes. Art is crazy, people need to let that happen. More art, more crazy communication and growth,” says Bongani.

I hope to see more mural festivals happen in Joburg and Soweto. I know the artists who were part of the project were left wanting more. So, who knows? Maybe this really is just the start to a much bigger conversation in Joburg! Fingers crossed!

Remed (photo © Monica Campana)

Falko (photo © Monica Campana)

Espo (photo © Martha Cooper)

Espo (photo © Martha Cooper)

Espo (photo © Martha Cooper)

Espo (photo © Martha Cooper)

Martha Cooper’s “Soweto/Sowebo Zine” (photo © Martha Cooper)

Martha Cooper’s “Soweto/Sowebo Zine” (photo © Martha Cooper)

Martha Cooper’s “Soweto/Sowebo Zine” (photo © Martha Cooper)

 

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ROA in Mexico, Gambia, and Cambodia

Globetrotting the Man-Made World, Listening to the Natural One

It’s sort of unprecedented to see how far ROA has gone this year, and how much work he has done. When people say that well-worn phrase “catching up with _____”, in his case you’d be out of breath. Here is a Street Artist who has very effectively escaped the street, an introvert traveling quietly in the extroverted world, with open eyes and an acute talent for observation; decoding the universe through study of the natural, and unnatural.

Today we debut new images taken by ROA from his travels in 2012 to three continents, leaving his footprints in the soil in villages and towns, studying creatures and the humans around them. As soon as he arrives at his host country he shakes hands of the people and smiles and sets his mind to observe his surroundings, taking interest in what roams free on the ground. He asks about available walls and when possible he selects a perfect one – the more imperfect the wall somehow the more perfect for him. From there it’s a simpler matter of immortalizing the critters and creatures that are all around and usually overlooked.

ROA here gives BSA readers these exclusive images of his travels to Cambodia, The Gambia, and Mexico with some of his observations, and we thank him.

MEXICO

In his second trip to Mexico City, ROA powerfully depicted struggle that commands attention across a large wall. “The snake with rats in her tail strangled. And as Jaime knows, the snake is very important for the pre-hispanic culture in Mexico,” says ROA.

ROA. Mexico City. All City Canvas Festival. 2012 (photo © ROA)

ROA. Cholula, Mexico 2012 (photo © ROA)

“Cholula is legendary known for the 365 churches to celebrate every day another saint,” ROA says in reference to this city in Puebla. Legendary is the right word, as there are actually only about 160 chapels in the town and surrounding haciendas, but the powerful influence of the Catholic Church here may account for the impression that there is one for each day of the year.

ROA. Cholula, Mexico 2012 (photo © ROA)

THE GAMBIA, AFRICA

ROA. Makumbaya, The Gambia. 2012. (photo © ROA)

ROA. Bakau, The Gambia. 2012 (photo © ROA)

“This was my second visit to the Makasutu Forest, The Gambia,” ROA explains as he describes getting his camera and computer stolen after his last trip – where many of the photos from that trip were lost. Thankfully he had retained some of his images from that trip, and here they are.  “The choice of the animals was mostly inspired by the moment; I would walk there and see a beatle, toad, lizard, .. and just paint it. The mosquito is the insect that has the biggest impact on the people’s daily conditions and health,” he says.

ROA. Kubuneh, The Gambia. 2012 (photo © ROA)

ROA. Kubuneh, The Gambia. 2012 (photo © ROA)

ROA. Roaming Cows, The Gambia. 2012 (photo © ROA)

ROA. Gunjur Beach, The Gambia. 2012 (photo © ROA)

ROA. Galoya, The Gambia. 2012 (photo © ROA)

ROA. Galoya, The Gambia. 2012 (photo © ROA)

ROA. Galoya, The Gambia. 2012 (photo © ROA)

ROA. The Gambia. 2011 (photo © ROA)

ROA. Galoya, The Gambia. 2011 (photo © ROA)

ROA. Babooms, Galoya, The Gambia. 2011 (photo © ROA)

CAMBODIA

Here on the invitation of  TheSk8Room (Bruxelles) ROA also gave some workshops to local youth, and had the opportunity to create something special for the tower of a school in Phnom Peng called Pour un sourire d’enfant (PSE).

“Because we spent time in the jungle near Vietnam two days before, I chose to paint a firefly. After sunset we hiked up the hill and we got to see hundreds of them in the middle of the tropics. Magical!” , he exclaims. He says that the firefly is important because  light pollution threatens her existence as that is the method fireflies use to communicate with one another.  “They produce with their lower body a yellow/green luminescent light, and cancer researchers observing them have posited the possibility that they would could kill cancer cells. They are very magical bugs!”

ROA. Sakateistan, Cambodia. 2012 (photo © ROA)

ROA. Kep, Cambodia. 2012 (photo © ROA)

ROA. Kep, Cambodia. 2012 (photo © ROA)

ROA. Kep, Cambodia. 2012 (photo © ROA)

“During our two days stay in the forest we visited Kep,” says ROA remembering his time in the small town near Vietnam. “It  once functioned as the “French Riviera” of Cambodia, and you can see this in the villas they left behind, evidence of the former wealth of the area.” Unfortunately, many of the villas were destroyed during the time of the Khmer Rouge, he says. “Nowadays they are shelters for homeless people and for roaming animals.”

ROA. Kep, Cambodia. 2012 (photo © ROA)

ROA wishes to thank the following people:

Gonzalo, Roberto, and Jalil, Jesus and Francisco in Mexico City. All City Canvas.

Christian Milamores in Cholula, Puebla.

Lawrence at Wide Open Walls, The Gambia.

The people at TheSk8Room (Bruxelles) for inviting him to visit Cambodia.

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Please note: All content including images and text are © BrooklynStreetArt.com, unless otherwise noted. We like sharing BSA content for non-commercial purposes as long as you credit the photographer(s) and BSA, include a link to the original article URL and do not remove the photographer’s name from the .jpg file. Otherwise, please refrain from re-posting. Thanks!

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Wide Open Walls: The Gambia Diaries

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The Street Artists have arrived in The Gambia

Near the giant river of Senegal the seven visiting Street Artists are unpacked and acclimated for two weeks (October 12-26) of painting. With a welcome from Lawrence Williams, artist and co-founder of WOW (Wide Open Walls) and of a huge ecological and cultural project in the area of Makasutu, they’re blown away with the natural beauty and enthusiastic hospitality.

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With UK Street Artist Eelus as the curator and local artist collective Bushdwellers as hosts, the team is ready; Lucy McLauchlan, Logan Hicks, Mysterious Al, Broken Crow (John Grider and Mike Fitzsimmons), and Xenz. Also on board is photographer Ian Cox who will capture as much of the action as possible in such a spread-out project covering many towns.

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The visiting Street Artists first met with village chiefs of local towns to discuss the project, it’s scope, and the various spots that artists will be getting up on. In stark contrast to the rough and tumble reception a Street Artist may encounter in gritty metropolitan areas in other parts of the world, a true spirit of welcoming has greeted the artists from the leaders of the 14 towns. With the intention of encouraging greater tourism and improving the local economy, the initial transformation plan was primarily for the village of Kubuneh but now includes others in the Ballabu area.

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“The optimism that exists here is hard to explain,” says Brooklyn Street Artist Logan Hicks, who has been pretty blown away by the experience so far and also by the open welcoming kids, many of whom he captured with his camera. “It’s odd going to a country where the kids are happy to just see you – I am so use to the New York way of life.”

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He’s also quick to note the very little they have in material wealth, and is glad that his Street Art work will help draw attention and hopefully money to the local towns. Says Logan, “The other day we had this big meeting with the village chiefs from the surrounding villages. All 14 chiefs were in attendance in their traditional gear, so it was a pretty big deal. But what floored me was that these villages were actually fighting over which village we should paint first!”brooklyn-street-art-The-Gambia-Diaries-logan-hicks-10-10-1-web

With “The Gambia Diaries”, BSA will be bringing you regular updates and exclusive images (like these from Mr. Hicks ) over the course of WOW.

You can participate! If you have questions you’d like to ask the artists, please email us at Gambia@BrooklynStreetArt.com.

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For now, take a look at some of these great images of folks from the area and pray for Logan to have the courage to sleep in his jungle lodge!  He’s seems like such a big brutish headbanger, but he contends that there are lizards and spiders the size of his hand back at the lodge. We don’t have those back in Brooklyn, although sometimes the rats in the subway tracks are as big as cats. Good luck Logan!

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http://wideopenwalls.wordpress.com/

http://www.makasutu.com/

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