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Column: Art or Vandalism?

Mia Sinha, Opinions Editor

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In the past few generations, graffiti has taken a major turn in how it is viewed by the public. However, it is illegal and is considered a form of vandalism or criminal mischief by law enforcement.

“Vandals” used to be kids with nothing better to do but get in trouble spray painting curse words or gang related symbols on buildings and walls. Today, graffiti is often thought of as a form of art or a platform for political/social expression. Now, when mentioning graffiti, one’s mind may go to the work of Banksy, a world-renowned, politically active graffiti artist.

The perception that graffiti is art is most likely raising the frequency of vandalism. However, because of this high and mighty perception of graffiti artists, the spray painters are held at a higher level in terms of what their work should look like. In turn, one may see less “tags” or signatures, such as words and symbols to represent that the artist was there. Instead, one sees images, phrases, or even comics that get across the message the artist wants to share with the world.

Last summer, I went to Greece and discovered that almost every building had some sort of spray paint on it, mostly just scribbled Greek words. Even the famous Parthenon had been spray painted. I was disgusted at how someone would deface such an important part of history. At that time, what I did not realize was modern forms of expression like this, where disagreement with some part of society or government is pronounced, are rare and quickly disappearing into memes on the internet. Don’t get me wrong, the graffiti on the base of the Parthenon was an undesirable mistake, considering it is an ancient building that needs to be protected and preserved. However, the graffiti that I saw on walls and abandoned buildings was stunning and emotional. Considering the economic state of Greece, much of it was political statements and mockeries of their current government.

When I walk around the Square, it always brings me a bit of joy to walk past the graffitied basket of puppies near High Point, and I think that’s what the artist wanted. The point of this illegal art form should be to bring about emotion and provoke thought in the general public. That is why communities should do more to encourage graffiti as art by paying for murals or public pieces of art by graffiti artists. This would then promote more artistic graffiti works, rather than the “tags” and random curse words, while also bringing color to the concrete streets and buildings of cities.

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Column: Art or Vandalism?