When you look at the human body, it breaks out in hives or other nasty ailments as a sign that something is wrong. Could it be that graffiti is a cultural cry for help?
By Darren Kaulback
Published June 01, 2009
It's everywhere. As I walk down my street, I see it on bridges, fences, sidewalks, mailboxes. I'm sure many of you can guess what I'm taking about, especially you urban dwellers: it's graffiti.
This may seem like an odd topic for a blog on "living green", but for me, "green" is much more than just being environmentally responsible. Sure, it's about a healthy planet; but it's also about healthy people living on that planet.
As I observe the tags, the colours, the attempts at more intricate designs, I see the faces behind them - faces of people who want to be seen, who want a voice.
I know graffiti can be ugly, promote other crimes and devalue a neighbourhood. But when you look at the human body, it breaks out in hives or other nasty ailments as a sign that something is wrong. Could it be that graffiti is a cultural cry for help?
Does our desire for conformity and control cut us off from a sense of playfulness or the unexpected?
I accidentally attended a neighborhood association meeting a few weeks back. Accidental as it was not my neighboorhood and it was promoted as a "film night." That aside, I was excited to see a group of 30+ people come together to discuss taking back their communities through guerilla gardening, creating murals in residential intersections and erecting public art.
It seems not everyone is happy with the homogeneous style of urban planning. I fully trust that these upstanding citizens will follow through with their plans to "beautify" their community. Check out the video we watched that night: it's worth a look:
Guerilla gardening and graffiti both have one thing in common - they are illegal. But I think they have another commonality. They are both driven by emotion - from artistic passion to rage.
One graffiti artist in Montreal continues to find himself embroiled in legal action as a consequence of his work. Check out these images: they bring a whole new dimension to the streetscape. They are playful and fun. Couldn't we all use a little more of that?
In Philadephia, back in the '80s, they reached out to the graffiti writers in an attempt to redirect their destructive behavior. A long shot you might say, but it worked.
Today's Mural Arts Program is a success and the once vandalized buildings are now a canvass for beautiful murals that decorate the city. These murals are more than just pretty pictures: they are a visual narrative of the city's history - its pain and its hope.
I know this is not a conventional solution, but it is a solution. Perhaps we need a little less uniformity in our cities and a little more soul.
Published on May 29. 2009 in Darren's blog, Raise a Little Green.
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