Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Fall 2011

Document Type



Art History

First Advisor

Robert Nauman

Second Advisor

James Cordova

Third Advisor

Anne Becher


This thesis explores a form of public art, Guatemalan bus art, which is largely unexplored and undocumented. Guatemalan public buses are old American yellow school buses which undergo a structural and aesthetic transformation in order to become Guatemalan public buses. Through a description of the theoretical framework of public art and a presentation of the aesthetic transformation of the Guatemalan buses, this thesis attempts to draw a connection between art in theory and the actual creative process of decorating a bus. By looking at two categories of images that appear on the buses, religious images and images of machismo, this thesis asserts that the culture of fear in Guatemala provides insight into why these two categories of images are valued for their ability to provide safety and protection. Relevant artistic movements are also presented in this thesis for the purpose of comparison/contrast with Guatemalan bus art in terms of the varying functions of public art. In summary, this thesis argues that Guatemalan bus art is a form of public art which is responsive to cultural need.