Street art often provides many unanswered questions, not only about the artwork itself, but also who created it. There’s seldom clear authorship for most street art and usually no contextual information about the artwork or artist in the way there is for in a museum of gallery. That can make it difficult to attribute the artist or read the artwork, though that’s also part of the allure of street art.

Much can be open to question and debate about a specific artwork. It’s like a mystery wrapped inside an another mystery, wrapped inside an enigma, firmly tucked inside a conundrum, trapped inside a phenomena, and buried in a Pandora’s box full of yet even more questions.

Take for example, savvy reader, this stenciled wheat-pasted artwork pictured here. It’s mounted in a sealed doorway in the Arts District, near Downtown Los Angeles. The artwork depicts a life-size human figure clad in a monkish robe. The figure’s head is that of an elephant and pink. The word” Rise” appears on the sleeves of the the robe.

We know what you’re thinking, savvy reader! “What the fuck?” Right? That’s what you’re thinking, right?!?!

For passersby who see this piece of mystifying street art — if they notice it at all — there’s probably the same WTF reaction. Or, at very least, a weary-eyed, seen-it-all “Meh.”

But it’s worth examining this work more closely. There are potentially sacred religious iconography involved here, which implies a certain degree of depth and gravitas. 

The elephant reminds us of the Hindu deity Ganesha. Are there esoteric religious readings of this street artwork that only those in the know can understand? Are we missing a clue? Why the word “Rise”?

Like an inquisitive and bored four-year old child who’s newly discovered the deeply satisfying amusement of trolling their parents by repeatedly asking “Why?” … we ask “Why? Why WHY, savvy reader?

These are questions that MUST be answered, savvy readers! We welcome your interpretations.

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