There are two distinct traditions in North American mural painting: works executed on walls inside a building, and works painted on outside surfaces. In general, interior murals depict ideas and virtues that contribute to the well-being of the community. They can also celebrate the achievements of that community.
William de Leftwich Dodge, Talents Diversified…
Hugo Ballin, The Four Freedoms
Murals on exterior walls are often expressions of social protest or appeals for humanitarian understanding and social justice:
Diego Rivera, Pan-Pacific Unity
Juana Alicia, La Llorona
James Burns, Finding the Light Within
Marc Nicely, We Are Still Here
Unlike easel paintings, which are most often executed for a private patron, murals are emphatically a public art form. Since their narratives are meant to instruct and please a widely diverse population, their stories must be immediately comprehensible, and not require written or verbal explanations by experts — though such explanations may help reveal some of the less obvious elements in the narratives.
Click the image or text below for a full view and discussion