The face of Pope Francis is everywhere! From posters to websites... made of dirt, or wax... He's quickly becoming an art icon, synonymous with the Catholic Church, and with Rome.
It's no surprise then that locals and tourists will come across his image, thumbs up and all, at the entrance to one of the busiest subway stops in Rome, the Spanish Steps.
"Many street artists started out with graffiti, and they usually began tagging subway trains, so they're kind of going back to their roots.”
ATAC is Rome's public transportation agency. It lent the space, the subway station, to make this project possible. But the artwork is part of a street art exhibit. Half of it will be displayed, starting June in Rome's Contemporary art museum. The rest, is on the subway station, among the people.
"People love street art, they love art brought to them, amongst them. There have been a lot of reactions. There's the selfie, where they take a picture with Pope Francis, with their thumbs up.”
The Pope might be the most recognizable image, but this exhibit has 14 other works, courtesy of top French street artists. They had a whopping two days to complete their work, in order to keep the element of surprise. Many, like this Roman cat were planned. Other like the Pope's portrait were improvised.
"Personally, I think that the dialogue that John Paul II started with youth now bears fruit. A movement like street art, a rebellious movement like street art wants to make Pope Francis one of the symbolic images of this city, and many other things.”
In the coming weeks, Italian street artists will fill out the remaining empty walls inside the subway station. ATAC issued special collectors item tickets, based on the artwork. Organizers say it's the first of many collaborations to bring art to the people.