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Strange Faces

local culture


George Washington University


Strange Faces

GW has an artist on the loose

Marquis Woods


Maybe you've seen them on your walk to Elliot for a class; while walking to Gallery for a late night snack; or you've missed them entirely. Even though you may not have seen them, they've seen you walking, talking, laughing, and maybe even crying; but they've been silent.

Recently, numerous light poles and electrical boxes of GW have become inhabited by images of elongated heads with text penned nearby. They're not incredibly noticeable due to their lack of bright color and small stature, but their presence is slowly increasing. These heads stare expressionless at the viewer, but often convey a plethora of emotions in their simple captions.

The faces act as quiet guardians watching over the bustling campus, coincidentally brightening the day of any accidental observer. The artist often plays off their canvas, placing the main figure in harrowing situations or distorting it's appearance. For example, one such illustration features the figure hanging off the edge of an electrical box panel, asking those that pass for help. Each image is unique, making every piece worth seeking out.

All are signed "MER," which may stand for the artist's initials or perhaps a hidden slogan for something greater. Either way, the artist has definitely established a style that seems to fit in well with the urban college environment they have chosen to debut their character. The human-like face which speaks in short inspirational quips adds a much needed distraction from the stress that daily college life can create. After discovering these drawings, I now spend my walks from class to class looking at mundane technical equipment and signs hoping to find a fresh creation and unlock the next piece of the artist's puzzle.

After discovering these drawings I now spend my walks from class to class looking at mundane technical equipment and signs hoping to find a fresh creation and unlock the next piece of the artist's puzzle.

While gathering photos of the drawings, I began to formulate a theory behind their meaning or purpose. I first concluded that they were simply meant to spread positive vibes, however, one drawing in particular made me rethink my conclusion. The dark and unassuming laundry room of Guthridge Hall does not immediately scream "creativity," but somehow the artist managed to fit a topical piece in this space. The familiar face is drawn on the front of a dispenser of sorts with the simple message "Hmmm...Laundry day again..." written beside it. Here, the expected positive statement is replaced by a common observance projected onto the inhabitants of the room. It is as if the face is both commenting on the frequency of which laundry is done and the quick passage of time that has occurred between each session. This piece serves as evidence that the artist and his creation are simply observing the world and offering commentary. While not as provocative as Banksy, the artist wants to say something. Every day life can be mundane and routine, but there is always an opportunity for inspiration and creativity if you are willing to look around.

Note: Please send photos of the drawings you encounter on or off campus to The Rival on Twitter (@TheRivalGW), we'd love to see where the rest of these gems are hidden!