For decades now, art has spread itself across many forms, platforms, and even on buildings. Graffiti originated in New York, in the 1970s. The artists started to create their designs on any wall they could find, buildings, or generally on any flat surface accessible to the public. The styles range, changing across each city it spread to. The goal of these creators was to have their work publicized as much as possible, or even to tell a story. Quite frankly, they were successful. Filling the streets of nearly every neighborhood, It had overtaken many other aspects of beauty the city offers. Citizens often admired the simplicity and aged look of buildings, and the overall historical feel of the town. Controversy arises regarding the outlandish displays of artwork when it distracts from the setting overall. At least that is what is often told.
On one hand, nobody wants to see a picture of a guy’s rotten teeth and naked women on the side of the building where one may buy groceries. The lack of acknowledgment of the context regarding the artwork and where its placed generally continues to give graffiti its bad reputation. Most of the time, without proper placement, the art itself loses meaning and value. Very few individuals based in wealthy neighborhoods take the time to discover the hidden meaning of an art piece simply because they can’t control it. Ironically, the graffiti, and culture that follows it, often demands open-mindedness from all backgrounds and social class. It has no regard for the state of mind one may be in, or if the inhabitants of the area would like to see it or not. Raising awareness or advertising in the form of street art is the brilliance behind capitalism. People often don’t like that they don’t always have a say in what they consume, or what may be newly added to the city they call home. People may not agree with the message that is now fully spray-painted on the wall, hence, it is often removed. Individuals often say ignorance is bliss, and instead of looking at the art for what it really is, we criminalize forceful awareness. It’s easier to remove something that is not understood than to face the uncertainty and leave with new knowledge, and a new perspective. That to me is the true crime. Who are we really punishing here, the artists or ourselves?