The most powerful street art murals of 2014

For years, countless talented street artists have been crafting jaw-dropping murals that coat the walls and surfaces of public spaces around the world, and 2014 has certainly been no exception. In the past 12 months, we’ve seen some seriously exceptional pieces of art pop up around our city streets. In fact, there have been a number of artists this year to translate their talents into forms of public expression, broadcasting compelling messages and political statements.

To honor this movement, we’ve compiled a list of noteworthy street art murals that have spoken out and created powerful assertions throughout the course of 2014.

“Greetings from Baton Rouge” Anamorphic Art by Odeith – Baton Rouge, LA

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Portuguese artist Odeith wowed us in November with his crazy anamorphic wall mural, “Greetings from Baton Rouge.” The piece plays with optical illusions to create a uniquely jaw-dropping perspective from every angle. Odeith has been leaving his artistic stamp on walls around the world, and most of his paintings incorporate animals or insects that are native to that area.

"Stop Telling Women to Smile" Campaign by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh – Various Cities

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Started by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, Stop Telling Women to Smile is an art series that addresses gender-based street harassment by placing drawn portraits of women next to straightforward, controversial captions in public spaces. The campaign began in 2012, but has been receiving a lot of attention and new followers lately due to the viral video that captured an example of street harassment in New York City. At Art Basel in Miami Beach, Fazlalizadeh installed a few STWTS pieces around the city.

"All Hands on Deck" Project by Damon Davis – Ferguson, MO

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Since the decision was made not to indict Darren Wilson, the white police officer who shot unarmed black teen Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, the U.S. has been in uproar. One of the most powerful movements in response has been All Hands on Deck, a street art series by St. Louis artist Damon Davis. The idea came from Davis’s desire to assure family and friends that they are not alone. Rather than rebel against police forces, Davis hopes to bond the Ferguson community through art and public beautification.

“Big Mother” by Stik – London, England

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After nearly a year of planning, street artist Stik took on the wildly ambitious project of creating the tallest piece of street art in the U.K. The result stands at a staggering 125 feet, which was finally completed in November. The piece, entitled “Big Mother,” comments on the lack of access to social housing in London for those in need, and the painting itself was executed on the side of Charles Hocking House—an affordable housing resource for local families. “Big Mother” can be seen throughout London.

“Rise Up” by Meggs – Detroit, MI

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Meggs, one of Australia’s most progressive street artists, completed his largest solo mural this year, which was a colorful, larger-than-life mural entitled “Rise Up.” The piece speaks to the lack of hope and prosperity that plagues East Detroit, the neighborhood in which the painting was created. Taking up 6,000 square-feet, “Rise Up” now shadows over the city and serves as a positive reminder of Detroit’s new era of change.

"Tag the Jewels" Project by Various Artists – Various Cities

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When the Run the Jewels's new album, RTJ2, dropped in October, Killer Mike and El-P took on a rather unconventional marketing strategy: they launched a worldwide street art project called Tag the Jewels, recruiting 30 street artists to create public installations that interpret the album’s cover art. The original album work was done by Nicholas Gazin and illustrates two taped hands, one forming the shape of a gun and the other holding a gold chain. On the official Tag the Jewels Tumblr, all of the pieces contributed to the project, as well as a map of the murals’ locations, are listed.

"You Make the Dreams" Collaboration by Akisiew

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Australian street artist Akisiew is making the move into print publication through her collaboration with children’s book authors Peter Warrington and Rachel Williams on the new book You Make The Dreams. Using real-life photos of Sydney streets and parks as backdrops for the book’s fictional world, Askiew filled them with her illustrated characters and animals. The idea for the collaboration stems from the story’s creative themes, which explore how children can be easily inspired by everyday surroundings.

“Nada” by Axel Void – Oaxaca, Mexico

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Axel Void created the highly-talked about piece, “Nada,” in Oaxaca, Mexico earlier this year. Void took to the side of a train car to craft this statement-making mural, which was taken from an image of an immigrant who had been assaulted while traveling on a similar cargo train. These trains were used to transport immigrants from south to north Mexico with the intention of crossing into the United States. The mural now sits in an abandoned train yard.

Anti-World Cup Street Art by Paulo Ito – Sao Paulo, Brazil

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The World Cup this year posed some political and economic debates within its host city of Sao Paulo. To express his frustration, Brazilian artist Paulo Ito created a series of murals to highlight the unseen problems that came along with the worldwide event. Some pieces featured illustrations of men flushing money down toilet bowls, or children with nothing on their dinner plates but a soccer ball. The murals created powerful messages that lingered among the sporting hysteria.

“Fight for Street Art” by Eduardo Kobra – Brooklyn, NY

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Brazilian muralist Eduardo Kobra painted an eye-catching piece on the façade of a Brooklyn building earlier this year, featuring a unique pairing of artistic legends Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol, both sporting boxing gloves and somber facial expressions. The piece’s accompanying caption, “Fight for Street Art,” creates an effective message and poses questions for the future of New York City street art. The piece stands on the corner of Bedford Avenue and North 9th Street in Brooklyn.