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Diamond in the Rough

Banksy balloon girl art.
(Photo courtesy by Pixabay)

Banksy balloon girl art. (Photo courtesy by Pixabay)


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Graffiti is a splash of color you see out on your daily drive. One look out the window and you can see a vibrant creation under bridges or on the sides of abandoned buildings and trains. Usually, we don’t mind the graffiti much, but, sometimes, it catches our eye. Whether that reason is bad or good is in the eye of the beholder.

“In my sophomore year, I went on a student ambassador trip to New York and I saw a lot of graffiti on the walls of a building on a street the group was walking down. Even though it was on the walls of the building, I still think it was art. I thought it was all beautiful, too,” says senior Jocelyn Dobson.

However, the beauty of graffiti is subjective and sometimes is only seen as an eyesore or even art without meaning.

“Trashing buildings without the owner’s permission and writing something mean or hateful on the walls is ugly and definitely not art,” says senior Mary-Kathryn Raley.  

On the flip side, graffiti can have and bring meaning to places that seem run down or left to ruin. It can bring beauty to places all around the globe.

In Chile, I’ve seen graffiti, and it is all super pretty. They actually hire people to make graffiti on buildings to make them prettier. They are able to liven the rundown parts of the city,” says junior Sydney Pinochet.

People in these rundown towns and cities don’t always feel they have a voice to express themselves. Graffiti can give them that voice.

“Graffiti allows people to express their thoughts and feelings through art. It lets people add their own two cents in their city,” says Raley.

The definition of graffiti has a constant meaning. However, a better term to describe the thoughts and ideas painted onto walls, buildings, trains, and bridges is street art. Graffiti set the foundation for street art and allowed street artists to evolve.

“My view is that graffiti is vandalism and disrespecting a building, but street art is bringing beauty and meaning to something. Street art evolved from graffiti. Street art provokes questions in the viewer like, ‘What is this?’ and ‘Why does this matter?’ Viewers try to determine the meaning and message of the art, which is what street artists like Shepard Fairey and Banksy want you to do. You can take the same material and spot of graffiti to beautify a place. Street art improves morale and appearance of rough communities,” says art teacher Shannon Forehand.

The purpose of graffiti is controversial and unknown. It is an outlet often used, everywhere, and differently by each artist.

“I think graffiti is an outlet for expression because it is anonymous. People can express themselves in a way where others won’t know who they are and they won’t get in trouble, unless they get caught. Graffiti allows people’s voices to be heard. Including people who live in a vicious cycle of poverty and need an outlet to have a voice,” says Pinochet.

Some people see graffiti as a problem in society, something ugly and out of place. However, everyone does not think the solution to graffiti is to cover it up.

“The criminal intention of the graffiti artist is the problem. Planning would help get rid of the negative problem graffiti creates. Planning could be talking with the city council on where it is allowed to paint or asking permission from owners. Shepard and Banksy pioneered the idea of street art, but under illegal circumstances, so their positive message was not understood. However, with good planning in a legal circumstance, the positive message has a better chance to get across to the public. If a conversation was held to show the difference of graffiti and street art it would make an advance towards the positive,” says Ms. Forehand.

Some people don’t even think graffiti is a problem but should be left alone to create change and positivity.

“Graffiti is not a problem, and, if it was covered up, it would suck out the hope in cities that already have little in the first place. It would bring more hopelessness. Society conforms beliefs, and, when someone steps out of those beliefs through graffiti, it is only seen as ugly by society. Even though society does not give graffiti artists another place to express themselves, which is the real problem,” says Pinochet.  

Graffiti or street art has an impact on the community in which it is publicly placed, whether it is small, like a symbol, or big, like a mural.

“Graffiti creates emotion when you look at it, whether it is good or bad. The art tugs at your mind in a way that is trying to bring up change, thoughts, and new thinking as you look at it,” says junior Santino Longobardi.

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Brashier Middle College Charter High School News....written and created by students, for students
Diamond in the Rough