Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Graffiti Art

For my final commonplace entry I will be focusing on graffiti art. Specifically the graffiti art tunnel on campus just before the gates leading to center stage. While I couldn't get inside the of the tunnel itself, the art on the outside was more then enough for me to cover. I take frequent walks over to the graffiti wall when I need to think, clear my head, or if I'm looking for inspiration. And every time I've been over there the art has been changed. Nothing stays up there for more then a month or so and I often see groups of people walking over to spray over top of what's there to put up their own creations.

Now until sometime last year I didn't even know graffiti was an art form and you can believe otherwise if you so wish. However, graffiti art is very difficult. I learned this the hard way because two of my friends who are astonishing painters are also amateur graffiti artists. When I found this out I chuckled and foolishly asked "Is that really considered art?" they gasped and showed me some of what they had created and told me to give it a try. Not wanting to back down after my remarks I gave my best attempt at creating art...it was a mess. Needless to say I made a fool of myself and learned to keep my mouth shut. I later followed them to the water tower (behind my high school), which frequently falls a victim to this art form. Watching my friends execute even the simplest design amazed me. They had to get every line, swirl, loop, letter, shading, and "mistake,” correct the first time because obviously spray paint isn't erasable. Spray paint can also be very uncooperative and tough to work with as can the medium the graffiti artist chooses to work on. So from then on I became a believer in graffiti art. I have not attempted to make anymore graffiti art since my first attempt but I have the utmost respect for the artists that have taken the time to learn how to create this precise and expressive form of artwork.
After taking multiple pictures of the art that currently resides on the wall toward the back of UNCSA I decided to use this portion:

This particular piece of art has a mix of jagged, edgy lines and curved lines. The curves seem to only truly appear on arch figures in the graffiti and on the only off colored light purple part which has the largest curve in the piece. The piece mostly consists of zigzag jagged lines, which give the piece a harsh and coarse feeling. This is only the beginning of the graffiti area and covers between six to ten feet across and about three feet high. In the photo the graffiti appears to be smooth and almost glossy but in reality it has been painted on a rather rough surface of brick. I would describe this piece as symbolistic; it means something to the artists but passerbyers are left in the dark. I would call the work expressionistic as well because the painting has been created through an abstract medium in a way that many do not understand or see as vandalism rather than art. Graffiti art is imperfect and meant to be that way because it's about self expression and requires the artists to throw themselves into something that could very well be destroyed the next morning.

The majority of the graffiti is a bluish-purple color but one area is a much lighter purple that is not used anywhere else in the piece. The background is a yellow cloud outlined in red, an explosion maybe, coming from behind the main focus of the piece-the lettering. There are also three white stars bursting from the lettering. The shadows are colored in black and give another plain of depth to the work. This particular graffiti piece repeats itself you can see this by looking at the right edge of the picture where the pattern starts over. I can’t decide whether that sad smiley face on the lighter purple area was intended to be there by the original artists or added later without their knowledge. This piece bulges and pushes against itself, begging for more room so the jumbled letters can stretch out. The entire piece is outlined by a thin white line that contrasts with the black used for the shadows and fills making the painting pop from the wall.

Somehow I think the graffiti knows that people are intrigued by it and will stop to try and decipher it’s meaning. I felt like I had to stop and look at every part of this wall or I would miss something. I find this true for the photo as well. I can’t ignore it or push it aside just because I don’t know the intention or meaning of the artwork, we wouldn’t have half the art we do now if that were the case. This kind of art is truly a statement; being able to create art anywhere and everywhere is a gift. Great murals and depictions of society have been created by graffiti art.

Graffiti art would remind me most of mannerist paintings if I were to put it into a category from this term. The reason being, graffiti art delves into individualism and each piece of art, while similar, will always be different from artist to artist. The exaggerated lettering and shapes generally stay the same. But the color, curves, background, and meaning will vary from artist to artist. Graffiti varies from region to region much as paintings in the time of mannerism did. While Italy was still prominent the center or art was moving to France. Italian mannerism is not the same as French. In turn, a graffiti piece created in Detroit will not be the same as one created in Los Angeles. However, what graffiti art truly reminds me of are inscriptions such as the ones created on the French caves we studied in the fall term.

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