Graffiti Is Art Essay Topics

Los Angeles is the most densely inhabited city in the state of California, and stands in second place after New York City, as the most populous in America. Most people in the city socialize mostly through cultural traditions and arts that are mainly practiced in the area. These arts form the basis of communication and expressions whether political or social. That being a few of the forms of expression graffiti is being widely used in the city. This form of art is employed as a means of social and political expression. The reason as to why young people use this form of avenue is that it is quite public and will relay the message. The fact that they are not provided with platforms to express themselves is another key issue to be addressed. In this paper, discussion on ways through which this work of art expresses the social and political issues in relation to Los Angeles will follow suit.

The city holds a history rich of arts and culture that has attracted millions of tourists from all over the world many years ago. In fact, the city’s greater area represents the most important site for television and movie production in the whole of the U.S. Other works of art related to Los Angeles include literature, music, museums, architecture, paintings, and street art, just to mention a few. Wordings; Graffiti artists use certain terms like crews, bombing, taggers these form a characteristic of graffiti traditions, although significantly, this type of dialect is to the idea that the whole culture is associated to the wider American customs that we are a components. Culture and language cannot be separated; culture creates language and the language creates culture. This distinct language is a preserve for graffiti tradition members and can be learnt through participation or continuous exposure to tag culture. This tag language is one form that graffiti is used to express social issues. The present graffiti words are obtained from the daily social life, the comments, phallic symbols, the jokes. Such graffiti is written in a common language so that individuals can comprehend, in addition to, partake in its humor or react in kind (Phillips, 47). The second category is images; in the context of community-based graffiti; these graffiti look like vivacious characters and vibrant texts. They have an origin in hip-hop culture and were selected because of its ability to both isolate, and form an interconnected faction that replicate current social issues in Los Angeles. It reflects a culture that is emerging in the society; it is ingrained in clothes, music, and dialect. The style was a preferred method, and individuals who create these images were part of the society that is influenced by the occurrence of these descriptions. Graffiti carried out by Gang is the type that is emphasizes a lot of the communal identification that this expressive means may value. However, the power that this illustrations yield, is usually disregarded. Graffiti expressing political notions is founded in interior representation by which negative political thoughts are channeled. These types of graffiti are mostly employed through activism movements in times of political protests; they have the ability to induce an emotional response, whether good or bad from their targeted audience. Objects, images and social conducts that contain a common implication among communities stand to unite the people. Under graffiti, the art has stood as a representation of opposition and a common dissatisfaction with current social certainty.

Ancient graffiti expressed love affirmations, social opinions and simple terminology of the notion in comparison to current popular information of societal and political standards as seen in the streets of Los Angeles (Phillips, 46). This is the same as in today’s world. Graffiti has been commercialized and is gaining popularity while others are seeking its legitimization. In 2001, IBM a large computer firm instigated a movement in Chicago, and San Francisco, which was advertising peace the campaign primarily, involved the community spray work of art on pavements the given symbols to illustrate “Peace, Love, and Linux.” However, because of the law which states that graffiti art is illegal the act saw the artists detained and prosecuted with damage charges, in addition to the repair costs, and penalty measures, IBM Company was fined more than US$120,000. In Los Angeles, Sony instigated same advertising campaign in 2005 and other cities, but this time taking into consideration the legal challenges of the IBM campaign. Sony compensated proprietors for the privileges to paint on their properties; portraits of dizzy-eyed city kids gathering, who were imitating a skateboard, a paddle or a rocking horse using PSP gadget. The two campaigns are an expression of an application of graffiti as a means in passing information, which the society does not approve to some extent. The war is clearly illustrated in Los Angeles, where two people were shot dead by the graffiti artist when they tried to stop them from doing what they love best. . Another social aspect is the growth of computer gaming depicting the art largely. These is to the positive aspect of the art, for example, the jet set radio program (2000–2003) shows the story of an assembly of youths fighting the subjugation of an authoritarian police that seeks to hinder the graffiti artists’ liberty of expression. Frequently, graffiti is reputed as an element of a culture that seeks to rebel against authority and laws in general as seen in the state where a certain group brands themselves and seek to warn visitors of their presence. What in my perspective makes the art wrong is the fact that most vandals are young people, ranging from young school going to youths, who vandalize public spaces for invalid reasons such as boredom, anger or revenge. For successful artists, ideas that perform this art often diverge and can illustrate a wide array of approaches and perceptions.

Most artist use materials such as paints and sprays, these sprays have a negative effect on the surroundings because of the fact that it contains. Harmful chemical elements like chlorofluorocarbons or volatile hydrocarbon gases are contained in the paints used for graffiti in painting a surface. These are harmful to the environment, and will continue to worsen the global warming situation in the world. Alternatively, moss graffiti can be adopted which will use moss, which is more environmental friendly to create the images or the wordings. The mixture is prepared through gluing moss unto a plane by mixing beer milk or yoghurt to serve as an adhesive for the art. These efforts of making the situation more environment friendly does not justify the fact that each year, in the clean up exercise of graffiti, large amounts are accounted for.

The society can approve a policy less lenient for destruction and instead provide an avenue or a place designed specifically for these artists to express themselves. Arresting them will only make the condition worse and they will continue to spend cleaning up the streets. On the other hand, with the already tarnished streets, what the locals need to do is first; to identify objects and locations prone to graffiti, and educate property owners effective and efficient of cleaning the places. Participants in these forums will mostly include property owners affected by graffiti, recreational facilities public works, shopping malls, schools, government, businesses, and other institutions. This will resolve the crisis in the short period; in the end, they can construct their buildings with hard to write on bricks or plant shrubs and hedges. Improved lighting and cooperation of the community and the authority will solve their so-called problem.

Looking at an artist’s perspective bring us to understand why they are so passionate about the art. Certain anthropologists explain that the art is an expression of one’s ideas and ideals. It goes beyond just the images and is mostly a representation of political ideas, race and art. This passion goes beyond fear of being caught, which has made a blog that highlights these paintings as being top five most viewed sights. I must say that these pieces of art is quite eye-catching and has its own beauty. The artists also are said to have a distinction between street art and graffiti basing the difference in that the artist signs graffiti while the street art is simply a form of expression, which is often done randomly. These facts also lead us to asking the question is the form of art an unnecessary struggle. I believe when one wants to pursue something he should go for it. Being a true believer means one is not swayed by the changing world, but one should also consider doing it peacefully. Overall, the art can signify liberation, love or territory. What the artist need is to make the community understand from their point of view. Successful artists in this field have received awards to prove that the entire art is not a negative vice and can be displayed in museums. In other words, it can be a visual method of communication with these it would play as both an art and a mode of communication to the users. Being an old form of art goes to show it has its form of justification and is not all negative (Ganz, and Tristan, 98).

A closer insight to the teenagers responsible for this form of art these explain that graffiti delineates the effect neighborhood, politics, and culture that is the society in general have on the day today activities of these teenagers. Most outstanding thing of this insight being the spirit, pride and allegiance that are expressed through in the voices of the said teenagers. This is not a glorification or the justification of gang behavior, but we rather perceive it as an objective that focuses on a specific social group that is not readily featured in the mainstream media and is trying to reach out. Gangs are not prevalent in many communities; my hope is that concerned parties would be enlightened, through various channels to be able to communicate with this group of a generation that is in need of help.

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Feb 8, 2013

Filed under: Example Papers — Tags: art essay, essay on graffiti, essay on Los Angeles, research paper on graffiti — Joan Young @ 10:33 am

The world of graffiti is changing. The vandals of the past, slathering the walls of public buildings with crude slogans and other graffiti, have given way to a new group of people who have begun to identify themselves as artists of a newly developing school: Street Art. Kirk Semple explains that “the term street art was first used in the 1980’s in reference to urban guerrilla art that was not hip-hop graffiti” (1). In fact, famous and elusive street artist known as "Banksy" demonstrated that painting the streets can be much more than just the common conception of graffiti (Banksy). In the prologue to his book, Nature’s Metropolis, historian William Cronon explains that cities are closely related to nature. “All people, rural or urban,” Cronon suggests, “share with each other and with all living and unliving things a single earthly home which we identify as the abstraction called nature” (Cronon 19). This paper will explore the role that street art plays in connecting urban and rural environments. It will argue that street artists can and should use their artwork to bring nature to the mundane, grey, bleak, walls of boring city buildings or streets. Although street art is technically illegal because it has been inaccurately categorized as graffiti, it can have a positive impact on the city by connecting rural and urban environments. For these reasons, people should promote and protect this type of art. I will develop this argument in three interrelated sections. First, I will explain the differences between street art and graffiti. Next, I will probe the specific ways that street art can improve a city. Finally, I will develop the idea that street art should be legalized and protected.

People have very different views of street art. Some people condemn it, while others condone it. But it is without question illegal, according to laws such as New York City’s 10-117 subdivision, which states: “No person shall write, paint or draw any inscription, figure or mark of any type on any public or private building or other structure . . . unless the express permission of the owner or operator of the property has been obtained” (New York City 1). Many people believe that street art and graffiti fall into the same category, that they are one in the same. However, they could not be more wrong. In his article, "Artist Driven Initiatives for Art Education: What We Can Learn From Street Art," G. James Daichendt explains that “[g]raffiti, by definition is a text-based art form that involves writing one’s name or the name of something important to the artist on a public surface” (7). He goes on to note that “street art is less concerned with letters but emphasizes the visual image, contextual use of space, and uses a wider range of materials that extend beyond the spray can” (Daichendt 7). This important distinction he makes between graffiti and street art shows how the two are fundamentally different. While graffiti is used to broadcast sometimes crude words to the world, street art is more carefully planned, more artistic, and often times displays a message for the general public. Graffiti for the sake of writing a name or phrase on a building should be illegal, because it adds to the grunge of the city, displaying a look of anarchy and unlawfulness. Street art, on the other hand, does not exhibit these unruly characteristics. Though people can argue that such art is vandalism, it can nevertheless add to the artistic appeal of a city and connect the city to nature. As a result, street art creates a happier, more productive community.

In recent news, street artists have made many positive impacts on cities around the world. A prime example is Banksy (the elusive street artist mentioned earlier), who recently staged what he called a “one month residency on the streets of New York” (Nessen). Throughout the month of October, 2013, Banksy produced a new piece of street art every day and posted a picture of the piece on his Instagram. This sent residents of New York City on a scavenger hunt to find the artwork (Nessen). Banksy’s art project benefited the city of New York by encouraging its residents to venture out to parts of the city to which they may not otherwise have gone. The project also helped build community throughout the city, as groups of citizens who admired Banksy’s artwork banded together in search of his latest piece. In an NPR piece, a Banksy fanatic related the ways that he interacted with NYC residents as they all worked toward the common goal of finding the artwork (Nessen).

In addition to building community, street art connects nature to the city. Artists often create their art out of natural materials or with nature as their subjects. In both cases, nature is brought to the city through street art. Banksy has produced art all over the world. In addition to his stint in New York, where he created many of his pieces out of natural material, such as a sphinx created out of rocks near a dump in Queens (Figure 1), Banksy also brought nature to the war-torn city of Gaza by using his artistic ability to paint on the Israel wall (Figure 2). His painting depicted two children climbing up to a hole in the wall, through which a beautiful oasis with an ocean and sand and a palm tree could be seen (Banksy). Banksy was brave enough to dodge the war zone, as well as the security guards at the Israel wall, to bring a little taste of nature to the war-torn area. The depiction of and use of nature in street art helps make the city a happier place to live in, and cheers up its residents. Psychological studies have supported this idea. They show that “people’s psychological health is associated with their relationship to nature” and that “immersion in either simulated or actual nature boost[s] vitality” in study subjects (Howell 1). This research suggests that natural art can make the city a happier place in which to live. Street artists might use natural media such as rocks, or add a real flower to a painting of the 9-11 disaster (Figure 3). They can also depict a natural subject, such as the oasis above. Regardless of their particular technique, street artists can remind residents of their connection to the natural world.

    In addition to the subject or medium of the art being natural, the act of creating street art brings artists out of their studios and onto the streets⎯into nature itself. For example, a New York elementary school used sidewalk chalk to decorate the sidewalks all the way around their school with pictures of what they learned about in class, specifically natural things. The entire school chipped in, once again exemplifying how street art can bring people together and get them outside (Hershenson 1). The art brought beauty to the mundane sidewalks, at least until the next rain. This and other works of street art bring admirers and viewers out into nature. Instead of paying to visit an art gallery, the public can wander the streets and get some fresh air while enjoying local artwork free of charge.

    Because this art is public and not housed in a gallery, problems of defacement and destruction arise. As the teachers at the New York elementary school explained, the chalk drawings, as with all street art, are “disposable art” (Hershenson 1). That being said, disposable art should be worn away by nature, and not by other artists or citizens. Some artists purposefully use materials that they know will decompose or break down over time to achieve a certain aesthetic, but this decomposition process should not be accelerated by other humans (Semple 1). In his piece, "The Trouble with Wilderness," Cronon argues that the wilderness is all around us. Everything we come into contact with should be treated like nature. Just because we are in a big city does not mean we can litter and harm the city environment. Cities are as much part of the wilderness as are the wild parts of the world people normally think of as wilderness (“Trouble with Wilderness” 89-90). It follows that as soon as a work of art is added to a city landscape, it becomes part of that wilderness, and that no one should harm the art. Among devoted street artists, there is “an unwritten, now largely accepted rule stat[ing] that no street artist has the right to destroy the work of another” (Anderson 115). Sadly, however, this rule is not always followed, and beautiful works of art are often washed away, painted over, or defaced by other artists’ “artwork”⎯mostly graffiti. This destruction of artwork was the subject of an NPR interview with citizens of New York who were searching for Banksy’s pieces while following his Instagram treasure hunt. The common goal among the treasure hunters was to be the first person to find the Banksy artwork. People wanted to discover Bansky’s works not only out of pride, but also because soon after the artwork was found each day, not much time went by before it was defaced or removed. Each treasure hunter emphasized the importance of “document[ing] a clean Banksy” (Nessen). An NPR blog showed many devastating examples of before and after pictures of Banksy's artwork (Figures 3, 4, 5, and 6):

    These depressing photos show the result of vandalism to the artwork (Peralta 1). The destruction and theft of these pieces of art is a very real problem. Steps should be taken to protect the art that becomes part of Cronon’s urban wilderness, because the artwork affects the city in the many positive ways mentioned above.

    Although street art is illegal in most places around the world, many cities have begun to recognize the positive effects the artwork can have on their residents and city environments. As a result, many cities have supported street art by commissioning works of art for the walls of their buildings. If the cities do not commission the artwork, building owners often will. They hire artists to paint murals on the sides of their buildings to brighten the neighborhood around them. Two pictures of such murals can be seen below (Figures 7 and 8). The first image is from my hometown of Dayton, Ohio, and the second is from my current city of South Bend, Indiana. Cameron Mcauliffe argues that such creativity is important to the post-industrial economy (190). As city officials know, decorating the streets will attract tourists and improve the moods of both the producers and consumers who do business in these spaces.

      City residents have begun to get on board with street art as well. In fact, many citizens enjoy street art’s presence in their neighborhoods. As some city-dwellers have explained, “walking in the decorated streets was similar to reading a fairy tale, liberating them from the mundane experience of living in ordinary towns” (Anderson 115). This statement shows how happy street art can make the citizens of a town. In fact, in a survey asking citizens to respond to street art on their own street, 83% supported the art’s presence (Mcauliffe 190). Humans are the part of nature we often forget. We are all animals, and need to be protected and sustained as much as any other part of nature. If we live in a happier and more colorful environment, we will be more productive and positive people in general. A study of college students and their reactions to colors showed that "bright colors [like those often used in murals and other works of street art] elicited mainly positive emotional associations, while dark colors [such as gray, black, and brown, colors that often compose city buildings] elicited negative emotional associations” (Epps 1). Street artists simply try to do their part to make the world a happier place to live by bringing color and nature to the mundane city streets. As one street artist put it, “if the world is gray, we do try to color it a bit” (Anderson 115). Accordingly, these artists should be allowed to create their art and have their work protected.

      In summary, though street art has garnered a poor reputation because of its origins in the vandalism of graffiti, it is fundamentally different on account of its artistic value and capacity to improve city landscapes. Once governments realize the important role that street art plays in revitalizing towns and communities, they can begin overturning laws that forbid this mode of expression. Under this scenario, we might see an explosion of street art across the globe. Conversations about street art could bring communities together and lead citizens to places of their cities they may not have ventured to on their own. The use of nature as both a medium and subject might improve city dynamics, making people happier as they recognize the nature that is all around them and their connection to that nature. More people might get up off of their couches and into the fresh air either to create or observe street art. Furthermore, if laws are passed to protect the artwork once it is put in place, artists will be assured of their place as the community improvers. They will no longer have to worry about who might vandalize their work with graffiti. These positive changes, however, can only occur if we promote and protect street art.

      Works Cited

      Anderson, Laurel, et al. "Symbiotic postures of commercial advertising and street art: rhetoric for creativity." Journal of Advertising Fall 2010: 113+. Business Insights: Essentials. Web. 6 Nov. 2013.

      Banksy, Dir. Exit Through The Gift Shop. Prod. Jaimie D’Cruz. 2010. Paranoid Pictures, 2010. DVD.

      Cronon, William. Nature's Metropolis. New York: Norton, 1991. Print.

      Cronon, William. “The Trouble with Wilderness; Or, Getting Back to the Wrong Nature.” Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature. By Cronon. New York: W.W. Norton & Company Inc., 1996. 69-90. Print.

      Daichendt, G. James. "ARTIST-DRIVEN Initiatives for Art Education: What we can Learn from Street Art." Art Edu 66.5 (Sep 2013): 6-12. Print.

      Epps, Helen H., and Naz Kaya. "Relationship between color and emotion: a study of college students." College Student Journal 38.3 (2004): 396+. Expanded Academic ASAP. Web. 13 Nov. 2013.

      Hershenson, Roberta. "It's Ephemeral, But Sidewalk Artists Have a Field Day." New York Times 7 June 1992. Business Insights: Essentials. Web. 6 Nov. 2013.

      Howell, Andrew, et al. "Nature Connectedness: Associations with Well-being and Mindfulness." Personality and Individual Differences 51.2 (2011): 166-71. Print.

      Mcauliffe, Cameron. "Graffiti Or Street Art? Negotiating The Moral Geographies Of The Creative City." Journal Of Urban Affairs 34.2 (2012): 189-206. Academic Search Premier. Web. 4 Nov. 2013.

      Nessen, Stephen, narr. “Banksy Project Sends Fans Online To Find Art In the Streets.” All Things Considered. Hosted by Audie Cornish. NPR. 16 Oct. 2013. Radio.

      New York City. "City and State Anti-Graffiti Legislation." NYC.gov. Ed. New York City. City of New York, n.d. Web. 13 Nov. 2013.

      Peralta, Eyder. “SEE: Banksy’s Month (So Far) In New York City.” NPR. Ed. Kinsey Wilson. NPR, 20 Oct. 2013. Web. 28 Oct. 2013.

      Semple, Kirk. "Underground Artists Take to the Streets." New York Times 9 July 2004: B1. Business Insights: Essentials. Web. 6 Nov. 2013.

      Images

      Figure 1: Banksy. "Queens by banksyny." Instagram. N.p., 22 Oct. 2013. Web. 6 Dec. 2013.

      Figure 2: Ortner, Markus. photography of a Banksy graffiti at the Israeli West Bank
      barrier in Bethlehem. Wikipedia. N.p., 2005. Web. 21 Dec. 2014.

      Figure 3: Banksy. "Tribeca by banksyny." NPR. N.p., 15 Oct. 2013. Web. 14 Nov. 2013.

      Figure 4: Nigam, Ambika. #banksy spotted and already hacked. NPR. N.p., 15 Oct. 2013. Web.
      14 Nov. 2013.

      Figure 5: Banksy. Manhattan. Concrete confessional by banksyny. NPR. N.p., 15 Oct. 2013.
      Web. 14 Nov. 2013.

      Figure 6: Hill, Seth. "Where'd the priest go? Banksy's Concrete Confessional last night and
      this morning." NPR. N.p., 15 Oct. 2013. Web. 14 Nov. 2013.

      Figure 7: Lee, Bonnie. Riverside Dr, Dayton, OH. 2008. Flickr. Photograph. 6 December 2013.

      Figure 8: Zavakos, Rachel. “South Bend 933 Bridge Mural.” 2013. jpg.

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