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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Canvas or menace?

    Bryan Fraunfelter, a psychology freshman, passes by several pieces of graffiti art on a wall along Sixth Street near Park Avenue.
    Bryan Fraunfelter, a psychology freshman, passes by several pieces of graffiti art on a wall along Sixth Street near Park Avenue.

    One campus crime is as simple to spot as reading the writing on the wall.

    Some view it as art while others view it as pure vandalism, but everyone can spot graffiti around campus.

    Nicholas Shen, a pre-physiology senior, said he has been creating graffiti for four years. He views it as an artistic form of expression and does not consider it to be vandalism.

    “”If you want to be a contemporary artist and you want to use canvas and paint brushes and expensive acrylic paint – you’ve got to have the money and the means to do so, and take courses and classes if you want to publicize yourself and sell your stuff to museums,”” he said. “”However, with graffiti art is kind of like – we do it whenever. We don’t do it for the money. If we paint something on a building and it’s illegal, no one knows who did it.””

    Shen enjoys working with graphic graffiti, which involves letters, usually writing a name or phrase, but he thinks that stencils are more socially accepted because they are more straight forward, he said.

    “”To save my own ass, I don’t do any illegal graffiti, but it definitely started out that way,”” Shen said. “”Kinda doing it wherever you can, whether it’s on buildings or billboards, sidewalks – finding any kind of urban environment as a canvas.””

    But not everybody views graffiti as harmless art.

    “”It is vandalizing university buildings and it is a consuming task to remove off buildings,”” said Associate Director of Facilities Management Christopher M. Kopach. “”It can cost thousands of dollars, which can be allocated in other areas on campus especially during our very difficult budget times.””

    Kopach said campus graffiti takes place on a regular basis, and his staff works diligently to try and remove the graffiti within a 24-hour period.

    “”There is no artistic expression when you’re vandalizing brick and signs that have to be redone,”” he said. “”Some are permanently etched and cannot be removed.””

    There are a variety of different liquid cleaners used to remove graffiti, but Kopach said in some cases, like in bathroom stalls, facility management needs to repaint the area entirely.

    Cobi Twena, a communications sophomore, said graffiti sends a powerful message and makes a statement.

    “”There are many great walls throughout history that have graffiti on it, such as the Berlin Wall,”” Twena said. “”Walls that border people typically have graffiti. People want to break down borders.””

    Twena said the location of graffiti is significant, and he believes the majority of it is an act of vandalism.

    “”If a business is attached to a strong statement, it could have negative consequences,”” he said.

    Nicholas Gonzales, a journalism junior, said some forms of graffiti on campus are intricate stencils and a lot of work goes into it.

    “”A lot of it is art,”” he said. “”Not like the tags your see on the street that just looks like a bunch of sloppy hand-writing.””

    Gonzales said he understands how business owners view it as vandalizing property, but when graffiti is done in more hidden locations, it is not harming anyone and should be enjoyed.

    “”The graffiti on campus you really have to look for, it is not always so noticeable,”” Gonzales said.

    For example, he said the red heart that has been stenciled on the bike path by the Marley building will probably remain there for a while, since it isn’t harming anyone.

    Shen said people tend to be oblivious to their surroundings, but if someone has a reaction to a visible graffiti work, it doesn’t make life so bland.

    “”If you’re a real graffiti artist you’re going to do it anywhere: whether it’s a rich house like a mansion or the suburbs or in a downtown city,”” Shen said.

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