OSTRACIZED FROM THE ART WORLD

Beauty can be found anywhere, even on the streets

Story by Jordan Daniels  Staff Writer

Art is subjective; its beauty is relative to the person viewing it. Art challenges us and makes us think about ideas, whether they’re grand concepts of social change or pretty thoughts that make us smile. But it also causes controversy.

As a form of street art, graffiti is held with negative connotations due to its deep roots in hip-hop and gang culture. But can graffiti also be seen as positive art?

Growing up in the Bay Area, a region enriched with culture, the idea of tagging was hardly foreign. I witnessed people making graffiti murals, symbols, and words of peace, love, and hate. 

When you remove the parts that are just full of violent or disturbing images and simply focus on the pure and meaningful art, you find something extraordinary. 

There’s something raw and exciting about graffiti on city walls and streets, especially in more metropolitan areas. People of older and more conservative generations see it as cheapening the look of the city, but from an artistic perspective, it only makes the city more wondrous and mystical. People respond well to the intricate and colorful visuals that graffiti is comprised of. 

Taking a look at classic street artists like DONDI, who created the famous “Children of the Grave” piece on subway cars in New York, and contemporary artists like Shepard Fairey who created the iconic poster of Obama with “Hope” below his face, it’s hard to see graffiti as anything but beautiful and expressive. 

If Pablo Picasso tagged a wall of the city, people would crowd around and claim his work as a part of Long Beach culture. So why is it such a struggle for modern graffitists to be seen as artists and have their work appreciated in our cities? 

Sure, there has been a rise of artist and graffiti studios where artists can create and display their pieces in small spaces, but I think that can limit the artist’s creativity and doesn’t truly allow them to share their work with the world. 

The best art is art that you stumble upon. It’s surreal when you’re strolling down the street alone or with a friend and you stumble upon a blend of colors, words, and pictures. It’s like finding a hidden treasure that opens up to some sort of deeper meaning. 

Graffiti definitely has pieces that don’t contribute to a city and can represent something negative, but there are also many pieces that should be seen as forms of beauty and artistic expression. 

In the words of famous graffitist Banksy, “Some people become vandals because they want to make the world a better looking place.”

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