My Semester Project…Graffiti Culture: A Divergent Voice

When I started this project I knew almost nothing about graffiti or the huge culture that surrounds that art form. I simply took a camera and began taking pictures whenever I was in the city. Over the course of six weeks I was able to interview a number of graffiti artists around the city, and in Chicago, as well as gain a much greater respect and appreciation for the art. The following excerpt is spoken in my video, but I’m putting it here for you to read so that it is even more clear and understandable.

My exploration of the graffiti culture began as a discovery of a new divergent voice. Well, not new since graffiti has been around for a long time. Can graffiti be seen as a divergent voice, I asked? Can the art be a medium for a message that can get out to the public without going through mainstream media channels? What kinds of messages are there? During my exploration I discovered that there are many layers to the graffiti culture. Although people walk by graffiti every day, many only see it as vandalism or the disruption of public property. Most people do not really pay attention. Walking around with a camera for six weeks helped me notice things I might have never seen. There are sometimes messages hidden in the artwork if you stop to look, though the reasons for painting are varied. Some have no message, or if they do it would only resound with people who understand that culture, or are a direct part of it. I discovered that in many ways, graffiti is almost like a Zine, or a form of “community media” that those who are “in on it” would get, but those outside the “community” might not be interested in. And yet, like I said, if you take a camera or just look closely at the mural on 42nd St and 7th Avenue, or stop by the trash can in Brooklyn, or walk the streets of Inwood on a late spring evening, you might notice a divergent voice or two coming out through the paint in the walls or on the sidewalk. In the end, graffiti doesn’t have to be a divergent voice, but sometimes it can be.

Click the link below to watch my project. Although it is not uploaded in the Mville channel on youtube, it will be as soon as I can coordinate it.



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