Photo Caption: Intriguing image of Miguelito's mother, the one who inspired and taught Miguelito about art, and Miguelito's fan positioned in the background. Image models the past, present and future of the street art community in relation to the death of Miguelito.
The movement made during the painting scenes and where many characters shake the can to the music is precise and intense in the way it pairs with the music but if you think about it, it exists alongside the moment where the artist is cultivating their image in their heads and is setting out to finally express these thoughts. In one particular scene, Miguelito receives a lot of encouragement from an older friend to find the right color and execute the best design for the moment and we get to witness the process of mapping out the image, the gestures the artists make with their arms (spray can in hand) before putting a piece up and then the grace and ease they need to find within themselves to put the piece up. And through that we get to see an expression of a very interesting pairing of pressure and freedom in this scene.
There is a recurring problem throughout the play of Miguelito's mother actively "whiting out" her artwork. Though this perplexed me at first, I began to understand that in a way, this was also a form a protest and a way to stand up against the immense pressures put in place by wealthier powers and governments. It was a way for Miguelito's mother to maintain ownership of her work by putting forth a form of protection. If she is the one whiting out the art, there is now way for landlords and city planning officials to do so. The system has already robbed her of her child and she is a character that makes a point not to succumb to the oppressiveness of institutionalized injustice. Again here we see the theme of whiteness coming into play and though the act of spraying out the art with white, the play is acknowledging the problems the effects of "whiteness" impose on other communities systematically at a disadvantage.
Gentrification is affecting this community throughout the entirety of this play and the characters are facilitating statements against the changing demographics within their community. What I find most significant throughout this play and most prevalent and what probably has the greatest influence on the art produced throughout is how systematic inequality has a great influence on daily life. The professional economic acheivements put in place by European settlers in America are affecting so so many aspects of peoples' daily lives in ways that is a violation of their rights as well as their happiness. In the the play we watch a landlord having to give into to economic pressures and sell property which is going to be remodeled and sold as a more expensive place to live. This is demonstrating the very real issues the Mission District is grappling with as its seeing more and more of its original community members being pushed out and being replaced by wealthier, upperclass white Americans. It is almost as if history repeats itself. The term “whiteness” has a way of defining the ultimate goals of americanization and links it to the many ways in which the culture of the US forces people of different ethnicities and identities to assimilate to fit the created mold of what it means to be American. Through language used by characters in film and portrayal in describing what various European races are experiencing in their transition to the US, we see the irony in how America is presented domestically and internationally as a place of diversity when it is actually promoting a lot of conformity and structure.
In simple terms, street art in this community in the Mission District is the vessel for bonding and ritualistic ways in which characters in the play and people living in this community go about initiating and executing street art invites the idea that there is almost a kind of religiousness to it. It’s inspiring. It’s empowering. Street art is an unapologetic art form and exists for the purpose of being seen and heard by passersby. The whole element to the story of “Who Shot La Miguelito?” where Miguelito obtains a true fan, inspired to start developing street art of her own, represents the whole point about what making street art means to people. In a world so oppressive and so cruel and where blatant racism and gentrification is all too prevalent, courage and self-sustaining power needs to be derived from somewhere and passed on to whoever is in need of it and art’s ability to do so without words and purely to just be is what allows it to be so naturally ingrained in this culture. It does the most for the culture by just existing. Some of it is bold, some of it is subtle, some of it is excited, some is gloomed, some is sharp and some is softer but all of it has a message and all of it is an extension of a very real emotion or state of mind prevalent within its community. Street art, in all its multifaceted forms, has a lot to prove. Perhaps it has even more to share.