Friday, December 3, 2010

Got Graffiti?

Graffiti evokes strong feelings in people. Many feel that it is solely an act of vandalism and has no intrinsic value and many feel that it is art and an important form of self-expression. I do not condone vandalism but I find graffiti very interesting. What makes a person feel compelled to “tag” things in a seemingly random fashion? Is it gang-related or simply self-expression gone large?

The great photographer Alfred Stieglitz stated, “The goal of art was the vital expression of self.”  If what Mr. Stieglitz said is correct, then it follows that graffiti is art.

I have a small collection of graffiti in my photo files almost none of which are the large colorful displays one sees on train cars and city walls.  What attracts me are the simple words. Sometimes it is the pure angst.  A graffiti I found in Valencia, Spain says, “Estoy solo y solo estoy” (“I am alone and alone am I”).  One I found in Barre, Vermont simply asks, “got grief?”  Sometimes, it’s the na├»ve hope that moves me, like a couple found in Northampton, Massachusetts:  “Let us love us” and “Let’s recreate the world.”  Or just the plain randomness of “Wear a red hat I will too” makes me just wonder why.

Here is some of my graffiti collection…


Dale said...

There's a little restaurant in an even littler town in western CO. They encourage graffiti on the restroom wall. They ask you to keep it clean and upbeat. And they're rewarded with some great graffiti. The food's great too - can't remember the names.
I think if artistic expression and freedom were nurtured in school and life as much as following rules and fitting in were, we'd have less vandalism.
Some communities try to nurture artistic expression through community murals. I find them more acceptable than graffiti, but maybe that just shows my prejudice.

barbara l. hale said...

I think you are right there, Dale. I do think that people need an outlet for self-expression. Giving people an acceptable place to do it isn't a bad idea. Of course, it won't get rid of all the graffiti that is vandalism but it might help. And I totally agree with what you say about nurturing artistic expression helping to curtail vandalism. Wish we could give that more of a try! I've seen enough graffiti to know that many of the people who do it have real artistic talent and should be encouraged to use it constructively.

Dale said...

My wife says that little town is Forks - Western WA, not CO.
Anyway, we also have a graffiti wall in our house. It's an extra wall that was put in to hide a pocket door that we added. The gypsum boards got put up, but then other projects took precedence. Now we put up bits of wisdom on them in chalk so we can erase when we run out of room