Outdoor Murals

Written by Patty Yu
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Muralists paint wall artwork, both indoor and outdoor murals, to express a statement, document a historical scene, or to provide an aesthetic appeal to some type of wall space. The content within art murals is usually conceived in relation to the architectural space or natural setting, creating an environmental artifact that works into the mural site. Many outdoor murals, meant for viewing by the public, express political or social ideas.

Many consider cave paintings the earliest mural art, followed by paintings found in tombs, and temples. Later, muralists began painting different scenes in churches, civic buildings, and a number of different outdoor spaces. In the Americas, outdoor murals play a significant role in architecture. Many famous muralists painted for libraries and museums, as well as U.S. Works Progress Administration artist employment to paint outdoor murals on various public buildings.

In the late 20th century, the Chicano population found a strong voice in mural art in the United States. Many outdoor murals recorded Chicano history that was otherwise unavailable in public education. This surge of mural painting caused artists of other backgrounds to emerge, creating a collection of diverse imagery painted along the walls of housing projects, freeways, parking structures, and many other exterior walls.

Damage to Outdoor Murals

Painted outside on public buildings, outdoor murals can be viewed by many people of different walks of life. Unfortunately, these outdoor locations make them very vulnerable to damage. Exposure to the elements like sun, rain, wind, and extreme temperatures, cause the paints to crack and fade. Many exterior murals also experience vandalism making them difficult to view.

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