OK, disclaimer done. Here I go:
Why did I decide to write a post about graffiti tonight? Well, earlier today I took my camera for a walk on the bike path that runs between the Hudson River and the Feeder Canal. It was sunny and I had a lovely walk, between a parking area by a dam, down to a bridge near a public beach, and back again. When I got to the bridge, I thought I'd look under it for a photo of the water and reflections, but instead I saw offensive graffiti. I took a photo, but I will not post it here, because, well, it consisted of several swastikas and a pro-Hitler statement, and I'm just not comfortable posting it on a blog that is a reflection of me. (So the other photos I took today will have to suffice for this post.) This piece of graffiti disturbed me and suddenly I felt uncomfortable and vulnerable walking alone. I walked quickly and didn't take another photo for the rest of my way back to my car. I'm hoping if I call the city tomorrow that someone will be able to remove this graffiti.
I am not unaware of graffiti/street artists artists that have become well-known and respected, such as the most obvious ones: Keith Haring, (who may have begun as a graffiti artist, but actually also produced street art by commission and sold work in galleries) or Banksy; nor am I unaware of the many graffiti artists making beautiful works of art on the sides of otherwise uninteresting urban buildings, or provocative political or social statements through their street art. But still, the bulk of graffiti I have seen is 'tagging', or offensive vandalism such as that I saw today.
Do graffiti art projects belong in the art curriculum? Is it appropriate to be teaching kids the art of graffiti-style lettering or 'tagging'?
I looked up the definition of graffiti, came up with many versions, but basically the idea was the same: Graffiti is any writing or drawing on a surface in a public place, placed there without authorization of the owner or the object on which it is written. Such graffiti are usually unwelcome, and are considered a form of vandalism.
I'll leave you with a link to a short article, Graffiti is Always Vandalism I found while researching information for this post. Thank you for reading, and for your opinions!