Banksy art exhibit in Miami through Feb. 28

Michelle Castano

Staff Writer

We have all heard of the ‘elephant in the room’, but have you heard of ‘the graffitied cow in the farm’? If you follow Banksy’s street art, then you might have. The illusive British artist and activist, known as Banksy, once created an exhibition that featured graffitied livestock back in the early 2000’s. 

Most recently, Banksy’s name became controversially infamous due to the fact that he remotely shredded a painting labeled “Girl with Balloon” after it was sold at the Sotheby’s auction house for $1.4 million. Ironically, this stunt garnered worldwide attention and made the shredded stenciled art work even more valuable; moreover, Sotheby’s renamed the art piece, “Love is in the Bin.”

Fresh off of showcasing it’s exhibition in Toronto, Canada, traveling art expo, “The Unauthorized Art of Banksy” made Miami, Florida it’s next destination. Making Magic City Studios its temporary home, the exhibit will be running until Feb. 28. Miami was chosen as the next destination because the show’s curators wanted to go to areas that weren’t necessarily considered “art hubs” like Los Angeles or New York. 

“Everyone deserves to see stuff like this. Why can’t it go to Miami? Why can’t it go to Toronto? This is not just a show for people that are in the art scene or the art world, this is for people to pop by; if they have heard of the artist and want to get a little more insight of his work,” said co-curator, Chris Ford. Exhibit ticket prices were approximately $40, which was reasonably priced for the masses in which the curators were hoping to lure and reach out to. 

All the art pieces ranging from silk screens, photographs, stencils and spray painted canvases were on loan from private collectors. According to Ford, a large amount of screen prints were commercially sold by Banksy when he started out because “he’s always been a working artist;” moreover, through selling his art, Banksy was able to fund his next projects that were in the making. “Private individuals who have his work were kind enough to loan us pieces; but we also attempted to find works in which we thought would help to improve the narrative that we were trying to give to audiences.”

The Unauthorized Art of Banksy showcased about 80 unique works of art which included an image of a boy and girl skipping together and wearing a police bulletproof vest, an image of Winston Churchill sporting a buzz cut-like mohawk and a version of the famous “Girl with a Balloon”. According to the Unauthorized Art of Banksy, in a recent poll, Banksy’s “Girl with a Balloon” was voted as the best loved art work in the UK; in fact, the piece exemplifies the artist’s innate skill to distill complex emotional concepts into a succinct and universally understood image.

This artwork is a stencil of a young girl [3 to 5 years of age], wearing a dress and reaching out for a heart shaped red balloon that is flying out of her reach. The red balloon is the only object in color within the stenciled work of art.

The alluring aspect within this exhibition, is that no one exactly knows who the artist with the pseudo name, “Banksy” really is. He could be the man walking next you on the street, your next-door neighbor, or even just a regular guy with a nine to five job that moonlights as an artist.

Aside from the Sotheby’s auction, Banksy has done many unusual stunts. “My favorite stunt was when he sold his works in the NYC street stands when he did his residency there for $65 a piece.  In my opinion, it was amazing to allow people to see these works of art that are vastly expensive in an irreverent manner,” said Ford.

The art works within the exhibition not only raised questions and caused some giggles from Banksy’s quotes, but they featured the artist’s willingness to challenge not only one’s mind but democracy, parliament, and injustices around the world. He brings to light events that are sometimes not covered in the media in a way that not only raises some eyebrows but broadens one’s horizons and points of view. “I like to think I have the guts to stand up anonymously in a Western democracy and call for things no-one else believes in— like peace and justice and freedom,” was once stated by Banksy.

Photo: Banksy’s infamous painting, “Girl with Balloon.”  Michelle Castano/The Observer

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