Where Mess and Masterpiece Meet

His name is Banksy.

For years, nobody actually knew who he was. There was only his graffiti to go by, artfully profaning the buildings, streets and subway systems of Britain.

One of modern history‘s most talented and incognito insurgents, Banksy’s is a legacy of revolution and fearlessness, of upheaval and political oppression, of normativity and why we should question it.

Nobody actually knows who Banksy is. But according to the most recent and in-depth investigations, he was, by all accounts, a product of public school and middle-class suburbia.

He was probably something like you.

He was another boy in the rank-and-file of British social assent, and he left it all behind.

Celebrities like Gwen Stefani and Brad Pitt now fork over millions of dollars for his paintings. Britain itself bears the marks of his revolt against conformity and oppression.

The frenzied search goes on for concrete confirmation of Banksy’s identity.

But Banksy’s entire artistic career turns on a determination to keep his “real” identity hidden. Why, then, are we so intent on ferreting out his personal information? Why are his “real” name and his schooling and his parentage so much more important than the art itself?

The fault lies not with Banksy, but with us. Banksy sacrificed his claim to renown so that another identity might be made clear: that of a revolutionary prepared for combat with his native culture. For so many years, we have missed the point. 

Banksy took himself out of the picture so that his art might be the focus. He doesn’t need you to know his name. A name is just a name.

An identity is what you make of your life.

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Spoken Word Salvation

His name is Propaganda.

His mission is simple: Take the message of Jesus Christ to the streets.

A far cry from the “frozen chosen” stereotype of the Protestant church, Propaganda (real name Jason Petty) spits spiritual rhymes worthy of the spoken word elite. In Petty’s mixtapes, theology and musical theory combine to produce songs at once jammable and profound.

White-collar denizens of the conservative religious hierarchy may well balk at this unconventional method of proclaiming the gospel. Truth be told, however, Petty’s music is reaching an audience too long excluded from the love of God.

Who did Jesus himself hang out with?

Page after page of the Bible reveals Him spending time with sinners, with tax collectors, beggars and prostitutes. With the very people who, in today’s society, would be least likely to listen to the mediocre white-bread soft rock clogging Christian radio’s airwaves.

Petty’s raps put the language of Jesus Christ into the language of the people who need Him most.

Culture clash? Yes. Does it work?

You bet.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: 

TALK to the people in your community and your church

VOLUNTEER at a local shelter or soup kitchen

LISTEN to Propaganda’s music and follow his blog at http://www.myspace.com/propaganda