World Bulletin / News Desk
Spray-paint cans in hand, a generation of street artists is covering Colombia's run-down walls with rifles that shoot heart-shaped bullets and rainbow-colored pleas for peace.
On the streets of Bogota, corncobs that look like grenades and gun barrels sprouting carnations have provided the backdrop as the government and the leftist rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) worked for nearly four years to conclude a historic peace agreement.
The peace process suffered a shock setback Sunday when voters rejected the resulting accord in a referendum, apparently resentful of the blood shed by the Marxist guerrillas and the lenient punishment the deal meted out for their crimes.
But that only fueled the creative fire for people like DjLu, a graffiti artist known for dotting central Bogota with black-and-white messages of peace.
"I prefer a twisted peace to a perfect war," said the secretive artist.
DjLu, who prefers not to use his real name, doubles as an art professor at Catholic University of Colombia when he isn't out spray-painting public spaces as a self-described "servant of peace."
"I wanted to send a message that would open people's minds," he told AFP of his turn to politically charged graffiti a decade ago.
"I'm simply human, and as a human I think the conflict is absurd."
The prospect of turning the page on more than half a century stained by violence is increasingly fueling street artists' creativity in Bogota, where graffiti is surging as an artistic medium.
The city's mayor from 2012 to 2015, former guerrilla fighter Gustavo Petro, actively promoted graffiti as a public art form.
That stance helped counter the stigma of graffiti as vandalism, and giant murals sprouted up in iconic spots throughout the city.
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