When strange steel structures appeared out of nowhere in the canyons in Utah, in an ancient fortress in Romania, and on top of a mountain in California, people took notice. It’s not often that a large stainless steel monolith (or large upright single block of material) appears without any clues. The structures just rested there and got people talking. The guesses were straightforward (maybe it was just advertising?) or outrageous (aliens?!). While the internet went crazy trying to figure out what these monoliths were, people traveled for hours to see the unusual structures and take selfies next to them!
At least one of the monoliths remains a mystery no more, as a group of artists came forth to claim ownership of the one in California. While speculation arises that others might also be art takeovers, we take a look at guerrilla art—when anonymous art pieces are left in public places. Why? For the artists, it’s a way to shed light on a topic, or so that people can appreciate the art without having to think about the creator!
Laser Art: For years, artists James Powderly and Evan Roth have been famous for using laser tagging to create art, often in the form of symbols or words reflecting off large buildings or towers. The practice continues today by people who want to protest or relay important messages using laser tagging on prominent buildings!
Wall of messages: The wall between Israel and the West Bank of Gaza is controversial and a symbol of a rift between two communities that’s spanned decades. In 2007, Dutch and Palestinian activists Faris Arouri, Yousef Nijim, and Raji Najam spray painted messages sent from people around the world on the wall.
Banksy: Since 1997, the mysterious London artist, who rose to heights of anonymous fame, has been known for his overnight creations in unusual places. Banksy’s work often relays important political messages about love, justice, and people!
Guerrilla Girls: In 1985, an anonymous group of feminist activist artists began protesting sexism and racism in the art world. The group members wear gorilla masks in public, to hide their identity, and use a technique called culture jamming (a tactic to disrupt mainstream institutions, like consumerism) that includes ads, billboards, and even fashion to send a message.
Falko One: The work of South African street artist Falko One can be found within the poor neighborhoods of his country. The art often represents the people of South Africa, but his favorite subject? Elephants!