Urban art: defacing or expressive
Published: Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Updated: Wednesday, June 2, 2010 23:06
Graffiti is commonly viewed as a symbol of gang activity or vandalism. Graffiti can make people feel unsafe and a location where graffiti is present tends to look more run-down. However, graffiti is evolving into a skill known as urban art.
Urban art is a new form of art that is showing up in cities, but it isn't making its début in galleries or museums. Rather, it appears on the city's sidewalks, streets and buildings. To an urban artist, the entire world is a canvas.
From the artistic standpoint, this form of art is beautiful, unique and revolutionary. But from the business or homeowner's point of view, this art can be destructive, costly and deface both public and private properties.
There is no clearly defined difference between what would be considered "urban art" and what is just plain, old graffiti.
The New York Police Department defines graffiti is as "any etching, painting, covering or placing a mark on public or private property." The main difference between graffiti and urban art is whether the artist has permission from the owner to paint on their property.
"I feel like [graffiti] gives a different perspective…and gives personality to the city," said Kalvis Hornburg, student and visitor to Museum of Modern Art. "I really like the different graffiti as long as it isn't obscene."
The urban art form is gaining wider acceptance among art students.
"Graffiti has gained so much acceptance as a contemporary art form in the last 20 years, but it is still in a box," said Ben Stagl, student at the Art Institute in Chicago, IL. "That impulse to reclaim one's urban landscape and have a right to be able to affect that and have a statement there is as valid as it ever was."
Graffiti is generally frowned upon in most communities. However, graffiti is a common sight in New York City.
"When it comes to graffiti we encourage artists to work within the confines of the law, we don't want to deface business," said Laura Bucko, director of communications at Manhattan Chamber of Commerce. "However, if there is an opportunity for businesses and artists to work together we encourage that because there may be ways to enhance the community in that regard."
Urban art is still young. Right now it is at a crossroads. It is stuck somewhere between being a menace and being respected. The decision is up to the artists. Either their work will be become a disciplined form of art or it will retain its associations with gang tagging.