By Camilo Santamaria, Paola Rodriguez, Mariana Romero and Maria Paula Ulloa

Urban art is controversial in our country, Colombia, because there are people who like and support it and others who dislike it.

Urban, or street, art allows artists to express themselves. It emerged from a need to transmit social and cultural beliefs.

It often carries a strikingly subversive message that criticizes society with irony and invites social struggle, political criticism or simply reflection. It always seeks to enlist and above all to persuade society; to draw attention is its main objective.

Many subjects of street art represent emblematic personalities of the past and the present, often from politics.

Street art critiques society and invites reflection.

Unfortunately, some people in Colombia equate urban art with vandalism — a very different stance than in London or Berlin, where many people appreciate street art.

Above all, street art aims to persuade society by using beautiful images to call attention to aspects of society that the public may not know about, due to official policies.

Some graffiti focuses on human rights. Some artists write, while others may draw or offer phrases.

The authors and photographers are all students at Gimnasio Los Caobos, a school in Bogotá, Colombia.

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WorldAmericasAre street artists vandals or prophets?