Street art has the ability to take all the “normal” of an everyday urban landscape and transform it into something extraordinarily beautiful. And because any surface can be a canvas, every neighborhood is a gallery with its art accessible to all. It’s the medium of the people, and whether it’s making a political statement, bringing a splash of color to an abandoned building, or making people laugh, street art creates a visceral reaction in the folks living in, working near, or walking past it.
You have to have passion to sneak out in the middle of the night to paint your truth; you must have drive and commitment to take on a commissioned piece that’s 11 stories high. It’s a living, breathing type of storytelling that changes depending on the time of day, the light, and the people who interact with it. It’s truth telling by the vandals and the mischief makers — only for the brave and (just slightly) insane.
This is not art for the faint of heart. But for young artists like Dasic Fernandez, the risk involved in street art is a part of the inspiration. As a teen hanging around the Chilean hip hop scene, Fernandez started out painting graffiti on walls with his friends. It was cool and dangerous and it bought him respect in his neighborhood. But though this painting started out as a way to impress his friends, graffiti soon became a way of expressing himself.
Fernandez simply loved painting. And he was good at it. Eventually, the young artist graduated to the complex, large scale murals he paints today. Work that is bold and breathtaking, mixing his spiritual and political sides with stunning color to make statements all over the world.
When you look at his works, you can’t help but be blown away by their vibrancy and scope. And the pieces are so transformative and beautiful that the capital ‘A’ Art World has started to take notice. The young boy from Chile painting words on walls with his friends has become an international success — with large numbers of people following his work, cities commissioning large scale pieces, and producers approaching him to make documentaries.
Fernandez takes his new found fame in stride, and for his next project, he wants to give back to the communities that inspired him as a boy growing up in urban Chile. He wants to create a “street art school” for urban youth in his home country.
“The idea,” Fernandez told Uproxx, “is to create a platform where the kids can actually exchange knowledge and experience.” He plans to have kids from his school travel to New York and be taught by working artists in the street art scene. Experience with other artists, he said, is the best way to learn.
“Personally, to me, it was the best way to learn about art,” Fernandez said. “And about life in general. Exchanging knowledge with artists was the best way for me to grow, and mold in my own heart.”
Fernandez hopes to see the school reach impoverished kids in tough areas in a way that traditional forms of art are unable to. Eventually, it might grow into a gateway for other artistic forms of expression.
“That was my experience,” he says of the way graffiti turned him on to art. “For kids in the neighborhood, in the ghettos that don’t have many opportunities, it gives them a way to dedicate their lives to art. Graffiti’s a very good way to catch their attention to get them into the art world.”
Fernandez believes that through graffiti teens can tap into their own unique artistic voices — without losing face in front of their friends or their neighborhoods.
“It’s not just about art,” he said. “it’s about how you connect to the people around. When you’re young, there are rules. And it’s all about finding a way to be respected by people your same age. And graffiti is a very good way to get respected by doing something positive. You’re doing positive things for yourself and community, but at the same time being respected in the neighborhood.”
At his school, Fernandez will allow kids the opportunity (for the first time) to experiment with their artistic ideas in a safe space. Street art, he said, helps you to know more about yourself, know exactly who you are, and then express yourself. Valuable skills that teens desperately need.
“Art is just being honest with yourself,” Fernandez said. “And street art is a way to catch kids’ attention and bring them to artwork. That’s how I see it. It’s a way to get in”
For Fernandez, street art brings people together, it changes them, and it’s a gift that he wants to impart on the youth of his native country. He loves the way street art draws people in and forces them to look at their neighborhood and the world around them with entirely fresh eyes — as a reflection of their own potential and beauty.
“I like for the people to see themselves in it,” Fernandez said. “What I really believe in is the capacity that we as human beings have when people just start being who they are and connect with the universe. It’s beautiful.”
The goal is to bring that beauty and connection to his future students. Because street art can be catalyst for something new for the kids, for something fresh, something good.