The Graffiti Controversy
by Laura Mooney
When you walk down the street on any given day, it is not uncommon to see fences, buildings, and even sidewalks dotted with a spectrum of spray paint in unrecognizable words and images. The general consensus is that graffiti is nothing more than ugly, crude vandalism to public property which express a lack of care about one’s neighborhood or city. Is it possible, however, to have artistic graffiti, and to actually consider it to be works of art? Graffiti is slowly making its way into popular culture and can now be seen in art exhibits, but what about when it is done the old fashioned way, on a bare cement wall in the middle of a city? Slowly, the world is expressing its acceptance for graffiti as an acceptable form of art that can be displayed in public, including Prince George.
In order for graffiti to truly be accepted as an art form, it must first be legalized. A number of cities around the world have taken this step and made street art legal, including Melbourne, Australia, and Venice Beach, California. Graffiti artists, also known as taggers, are controlled by restricting graffiti to certain areas of the cities. This ensures that taggers have a safe place to go where they will not be penalized for their work. To guarantee further control, and quality control, some of the legalized areas have their own curators and review boards. These groups of people are responsible for examining the work of graffiti artists to determine whether their paintings will be welcome additions to the designated areas. With such a small legal area for the taggers to work with, there is often a lot of competition between them. This unspoken competition also ensures that the work put on the walls is the best the taggers can create, and provides the viewing public with endless amounts of quality art which showcases exactly what one can do with a can of spray paint.
Even cities closer to home, such as Vancouver, are slowly getting on board with seeing graffiti as art. Vancouver now has one legal area, Leeside Skatepark, where taggers can go to showcase their work. While smaller cities such as Prince George have not quite gotten on board with the idea of allowing taggers to show their work in even a legal area, we do have immense graffiti style murals that showcase the talent we have hiding in Prince George.
Whether graffiti will become a legitimate art form in the future or not, it is a uniquely beautiful way of expressing one’s inner artist. Hopefully, one day, more cities will recognize the potential of graffiti, and will follow in the footsteps of others to create areas where taggers can create art, providing points of interest and a more visually interesting city.