Nola’s Hidden Murals (And Their Meanings)

When discovering a new city for the first time, the street art and local artists have a big impact on the storytelling of the city. Artists express their personal experiences, as well as divulge the history and culture of their community. New Orleans is a loud, colorful and expressive city, and its artwork reflects that. While the many murals around around the city are beautiful to look at and take pictures of, it is interesting to know the deeper meaning behind some of the artwork.  

1. “Purple Purse”

Location: Exterior wall of Yes Yoga on Oak Street

Artist: Milagros Collective

The 'Purple Purse' mural was painted with permission of the Yes Yoga studio at the corner of Oak and Cambronne Streets .jpeg

This mural is intended to spread awareness about domestic abuse, while also creating something beautiful to look at. There are six murals in six different cities across the country, each containing a hidden message about domestic abuse. You are meant take a picture of the mural, put the “Moon” Instagram filter over it, and then a hidden message is unveiled. The artist is a local group called the Milagros Collective who focuses on energizing public spaces with playful spontaneity, and bright colors and patterns. A great photo op spot with a great message!  

2. “You Gay Girl”

Location: Corner of Elysian Fields Avenue and Chartres Street.

Artist: You Go Girl

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A graffiti artist known by the tag “You Go Girl” has risen to fame for her feminized art, which is impressive in such a male dominated industry. This mural was created for the 2018 Pride Parade, to show encouragement and inspire respect for the LGBTQ community. It reads “ You Gay Girl,” taking a spin of her own name, with two muscular arms on each side. To the right it reads “The first pride was a riot,” which is a reference to the Stonewall riots in New York City. New Orleans is a city with a major LGBTQ support and pride, and it is great to see the community reflecting that.

3. “These Are Times”

Location: Homer Plessy Way (formerly Press Street) between Dauphin and Royal Streets

Artist: Ayo Scott

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The NOCCA issued this mural to be designed last may. It represents the Jim Crow Era of discrimination when Homer Plessy was forced off a train car for sitting in the white section. In the mural it states the powerful message of “to remind us where we’ve been, and where we no longer wish to return.”

4. “Girl with Umbrella”

Location: N. Rampart and Kerlerec Street  

Artist: Banksy

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Banksy, a very popular graffiti artist known for his social commentary, produced 14 stencil works in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. The art was focused on representing life after Hurricane Katrina, and the social and political damage that came after it. Many pieces could be found on damaged homes from the storm and close to the lower 9th ward. All the pieces have been damaged or painted over except  one of a girl with an umbrella. This mural is covered by a plastic film, the reason that it is the only one not vandalized. This is the only opportunity to see a Banksy work still left in New Orleans so better get there while you can!

Along with food and music, art a key component in the reflection of a city. Finding murals and local artwork around New Orleans is a fun activity to learn your way around the city, learn the history, and see some stunning artwork!

PHOTOS: Miranda Kramer and Lily Heller

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