Utne Blogs > Arts and Culture

Art in the Slums of Brazil

by Will Wlizlo

Tags: Arts, Murals, Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, Favelas, Jeroen Koolhaas, Dre Urhahn, Juxtapoz, mental_floss,


For the past four years, Dutch artists Jeroen Koolhaas and Dre Urhahn have been splashing paint on Rio de Janeiro’s favelas, transforming the hillside slums into clustered monuments of urban art.

The neighborhoods aren’t just changing aesthetically. "About one-third of Rio de Janeiro’s population lives in favelas," reports mental_floss. "To prevent kids from getting caught up in the drug trade, the Favela Painting project pays Brazil’s youth to create murals for their communities. As a result, armies of teenage artists are giving their neighborhoods new faces—ones covered in bright, cheerful colors. The hope is that within the next few years, the entire landscape of favelas will become a massive work of art, drawing attention to the needs of the poor and filling the community with pride.”

Their most recent project in the Santa Marta favela covered more than 30 densely packed buildings with a kaleidoscopic, multicolored sunburst.

One building in Santa Marta, a samba school and neighborhood hangout, was even painted on the inside.

Art can get a little messy.

Juxtapoz profiled the Dutchmen’s previous work in the favelas, which includes this three-story tall mural of a boy flying a kite.

Sources: Juxtapoz, mental_floss

Images courtesy of Haas&Hahn/Favelapainting.com.