Mr. Brainwash’s Elvis


I chose this photo because it represents cultural appropriation. A few years ago, I watched a documentary about a graffiti artist Mr. Brainwash. This was one of his pieces. His pieces were all famous images and people modified. This one is of Elvis, one of the most famous musicians ever. Normally, in this photo he holds a guitar. In Mr. Brainwash’s image, he took away the guitar and placed a gun. The gun is the only think in the image with color, which helps it stand out. This makes the viewer attracted to it and notice right away that the guitar is replaced. In today’s time, the world is a much more violent place than it was when Elvis was alive. In a way, this photo represents how America has changed since Elvis’s time. Another unique take on this is that Elvis was in the army, so it represents a side of Elvis that is not well known. The fact that this is created by an artist who became famous due to his graffiti shows how this is a huge part of out visual culture. Graffiti has become apart of what we see frequently. You can’t go into a city without seeing tons of paintings on buildings. Mr. Brainwash has many examples of cultural appropriation with one of his most famous being the Campbell’s soup can being turned into a spray can. 




  1. This is a great example of appropriation. @barbaradodds, do you know anything about the medium of this artwork? Is this a print or is this something that Mr. Brainwash would have put up on the side of a building?

  2. I agree with all of Barb’s comments and think that she brought a lot of insightful meaning to this image. It definitely represents cultural appropriation and I think it also represents a form of bricolage. Mr.Brainwash turned this print into a form of bricolage through visual design by putting a different and prominent spin on this image of Elvis. I know that bricolage more literally refers to making art with whatever is available such as the stomp group that makes music by using household items. Therefore, I feel that this image contains a subtle version of bricolage. The artist replaced the guitar with a gun to convey a variety of messages to the viewer through using bricolage to think outside of the box. It makes the viewer curious as to why Elvis is holding a gun by creating a sense of oddity in the image. The image directly relates to the chapter “Viewers Make Meaning” as it outlines the concept that images themselves do not hold all the meaning, but the viewer products a meaning of the image. Barb outlined all of the meanings that she captured from the image. She related the image to America because this is her cultural background and it helps to understand images more fully by putting them into context. I used the concept of bricolage to generate a better meaning of the image because I recently saw stomp and the blue man group and this helped me tie bricolage with the image to generate my own personal meaning. Overall, this image is a great example of cultural appropriation and bricolage and gives the viewer a better understanding of this newly learned concepts.

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