Street Bible | The Street Bible: Prints by Aaron Wallis
The Street Bible is a series of prints depicting drug dealers, gang leaders and rappers in the context of Christian Iconography and the Illuminated Manuscript. The project of Jackson Wyoming artist Aaron Wallis. All work in the series is handprinted using non-digital techniques.
The Street Bible, Aaron Wallis, Jackson Wyoming, Printmaking, Silkscreen, Lithography, Letterpress, Gold Leaf, Illuminated Manuscript, Christian Iconography, Drug Dealers, Gang Leaders, Pablo Escobar, El Chapo, La Familia Arellano, Stanley Tookie Williams, Larry Hoover, Freeway Rick Ross, EPMD
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EPMD
Gold Leaf / Letterpress / Silkscreen

The Street Bible Artist Statement

The Street Bible began as a series of prints depicting rappers in the context of Christian iconography and the illuminated manuscript. The subject matter has evolved beyond pop-culture to directly address the mythology of the criminal in society, focusing primarily on gang leaders and drug dealers. Through deification in the counterculture, these figures have become lionized in a manner similar to Christian saints. Their rags-to-riches struggle against the established class structure, and their subsequent persecution, mirror the struggles of early Christian martyrs.

 

The Street Bible questions basic assumptions of morality as inherently subjective. In the U.S., millions of poor people are trapped in the criminal justice system while bankers and CEOs live above the law. Ordinary citizens go to jail for minor drug offenses, but the federal government fails to hold itself accountable for drug trafficking to fund covert operations. When money determines what is morally acceptable, can the American power elite legitimately claim superiority over the criminal?

 

The Street Bible drawls parallels between incidents like murder of Óscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador in 1980 by CIA backed death squads. Compared to the murder of Juan Jesús Posadas Ocampo, Archbishop of Guadalajara, by the Tiajuana Cartel when his limo was mistaken for El Chapo’s, Romero’s murder was intentional and government sanctioned, while the murder of Ocampo was accidental. Does employing identical methodology create moral equivalency?

 

I chose printmaking for The Street Bible because it is an inherently populist medium, historically linked to pamphleteering, propaganda, and religious texts. The series consists primarily of silkscreen prints, but also includes intaglio, letterpress and lithography on paper. Many prints also use hand goldleaf or chine-collé. None of the prints in The Street Bible are printed using an inkjet. I believe in the continued relevance of traditional printmaking in a digital age and the intrinsic and unique feel of a hand-printed image.