People have been expressing themselves for hundreds of years through various methods, including writing poetry and novels, composing music, and creating art in the form of sculptures and paintings. A controversial form of expression, however, is graffiti art. While some see it as vandalism, in reality, it is just another form of expression, but on a much larger, yet controversial canvas.
Many people believe graffiti should not be considered art for various reasons, cost being one of them. In 2012, the Kansas City Parks and Recreation Department spent about $130,000 a year to remove graffiti. High costs are enough to turn people against graffiti and the artists who create it. Other reasons include the fact that many graffiti artists are doing their art on the sides of buildings not owned by them, or the fact that gangs may use graffiti to “tag” their territory, or even that graffiti depicting weapons can incite violence.
When someone says that graffiti isn’t art, perhaps it comes down to the eye of the beholder, and sure, when personal property is graffiti-ed without consent, it can raise concerns or agitate. However, America is filled with opportunities for new ideas and new businesses, and if someone’s expression can lead to success, then by all means, let them succeed; of course, as long as they do it legally. Some people believe that graffiti depicting weapons can incite violence, especially in major cities. “Tagging” territories has also been an issue in other states.
Yet when people do graffiti peacefully, with intentions of expressing themselves, this act shows us that not all graffiti is bad. Graffiti itself has been around for centuries; its earliest examples dating back to the Ancient Egyptians and the cave drawings of the Early Humans. It is a form of free speech and free expression that has lasted throughout the ages and the test of time, allowing people to put their views and their creativity out on a public level.
While graffiti is indeed a form of free speech, that doesn’t mean all forms of it are entirely legal. Without the consent of the person whose property is being graffiti-ed, the artists’ right to free speech is not protected, due to it being a violation of the property owner’s right “to the exclusive use and enjoyment of their property.”
Illegal graffiti has been prevented through the creation of designated graffiti areas, including 5pointz in Manhattan, New York, which allowed graffitists to express themselves without damaging the property of others before its demolition in late 2014. Designated areas like 5pointz have been proven to reduce illegal graffiti by 80 percent. This allows for graffitists to fully express themselves and their creativity without doing it illegally.
So this begs the question, should Yadkin have a legal area for graffiti artists to master their craft? In our opinion, to conclude this controversy, graffiti should be considered more of a form of art, rather than a criminal act. But seeing as students don’t always follow the rules, legalized graffiti areas, like 5pointz, may not be established for Yadkin, at least not in the near future.
Daniel Higgins and Hannah Kaufman serve as seniors on the editorial board for Yadkin Virtual Academy of Journalism.