Meggie Schmidt

This week’s readings on street art and graffiti made me think of what I commonly associate as graffiti. Graffiti was something that was seen in a bad area of town and often involved spray cans that were used to write on old buildings. Often the writing wasn’t even legible as other people had written over and over the same area of a building, creating something that was not pleasant to look at. Graffiti and street art can actually be something to be celebrated, enjoyed and discussed.

According to The Washington Post article, “The Allure Of ‘Loser’ Culture” it states: “Even graffiti itself started out being less about what it looked like than about where it was: By marking up an off-limits public space, people without much power to affect the world at large could make themselves known and felt.” Graffiti typically involved the nation’s youth as they rebelled and wanted to leave a mark of themselves on society. I went to my hometown of New Orleans this weekend for a short visit, which turned out to be a long visit thanks to hurricane Sandy. I couldn’t help but notice how this city is exploding with street art and graffiti. Almost anywhere you drive around the city there are some works to be looked at further. They range in forms and different areas all over town, from the most manicured lawns, to the roughest neighborhoods, this subculture prevails.

According to the article “Jean-Paul Villere: Graffiti Today, Gone Tomorrow” it says “We are a race of story lovers. We love to tell them. We love to be told them. And every image left behind whether intentionally recorded or not tells a story.” This work below was done on the New Orleans lakefront wall. It leaves the viewer to wonder and create their own storyline.

When driving around the city of New Orleans, you may stumble across one of many Mardi Gras bead dogs. They are scattered all across the city. Each dog is unique and created to draw attention to the Louisiana SPCA. Their goal is to send a message to get dogs adopted, as around 20 dogs are found abandoned each day.
mardi gras bead dog.jpg
mardi gras bead dog.jpg

Halloween is a widely celebrated holiday in New Orleans. When walking through Uptown New Orleans, many houses decorate their lawn with festive decoration. They create a story. One house stood out for its extensive decorations and creative story telling technique of Halloween.


house 2.JPG
house 2.JPG

There were dozens of skeletons all across the lawn of this house each arranged with props to show a reference to history, current event, or a play on words.

This skeleton below references the painting “The Scream” by Edvard Munch.
the screamm.JPG
the screamm.JPG
the scream edvard munch.jpg
the scream edvard munch.jpg

dead tired.JPG
dead tired.JPG

femal fatal lady killer.JPG
femal fatal lady killer.JPG

These examples of street art and graffiti are all very different. Some were created to rebel against society, others were created to draw attention to issues in society, and some simply want to create something fun for Halloween and showcase their creativity. No matter the cause, they all celebrate art and promote a visual culture from which we all live in.


Paulina Johnson
Week 9: Street Art

When I see street art, my first reaction is to code it as “graffiti.” Personally, I think I view graffiti and street art as one in the same, though they are different. It’s almost as if my brain encodes street art as a more sophisticated form of graffiti, though graffiti has a negative connotation because it implies the existence of art in locations that were not intended to be used as canvases.

I find it interesting that Basquiat started creating art on the streets and later moved into a studio. The Brooklyn Museum article states that “[Basquiat] had little money to buy supplies, so he painted on window frames, cabinet doors, even football helmets—whatever he could find. After Basquiat began to make money, the quality of his art materials improved.” The streets served as a more accessible platform for creation--a free one.

Another intriguing fact that the lecture notes stated was that street artists don’t see themselves as street artists, but rather as artists with the streets as their canvases. I also found it interesting that an artist would create a work to be intentionally ephemeral, but due to the nature of street art, this is true. It’s also easy to see the effects of technology upon street art, as google maps-like technology has enabled sites like Urbascope to exist, for people to find pieces of street art in places where they may not be physically located at the time.

Photography has also changed street art by partially removing its ephemeral nature and bringing it back to through photographs with a longer shelf-life.

Relating to last week’s ideas centered on pop art, I found examples of pop-street art. It looks like this artist was inspired by Roy Lichtenstein’s “Crying Girl” series. We can see that the artist demonstrated a sarcasm about the ephemeral nature of his work, stating that “One day a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the streets.” He refers to his work as “scum,” hinting at how people commonly perceive street art.

Scalater Street, London, 2006
Scalater Street, London, 2006
external image 278282925_0063c87c1b.jpg

Lichtenstein’s Crying Girl:

external image roy_lichtenstein_gallery_18.jpg

external image 129309423958827301_c1d8b800-51ba-43af-99ab-3ad83e43aac1_198073_273.Jpeg

Though this street artist’s work may be washed away, we are able to enjoy it thanks to a camera lens.

When you think about it, though, street art and graffiti is part of what makes a city, a city. Street art differentiates an urban oasis from a usually cookie-cutter suburb. Street art gives cities part of their character.

Graffiti with a political statement, Salamanca, Spain 2011

continued from above

Street art becomes a tool for visual communication, as the "Work On the Street" article describes, stating that it "is a direct engagement with a city's messaging system, a direct hit on the unconscious, accepted, seemingly natural spaces in which visual messages can appear" (Irvine 22). This section struck me because, looking back to what I originally said about encoding street art as a kind of graffiti, I realize that I hadn't even considered how much advertising a city contains. We walk through the streets unquestioningly as we are inundated with cultural advertisements, yet we perceive graffiti and street art as unnatural and possibly profane, depending on content and location. The idea that street art is the residents' response to the messages that the city gives the impression that cities are a place for visual-cultural conversation.

Langford Wiggins

While perusing the readings and observing the different art works throughout this week’s discussion, I focused mainly on the question of, “How did "street art" and "graffiti art" become recognized cultural categories?”

In previous discussions, I have learned that Andy Warhol stressed the importance of popular cultural phenomenon and social changes within his “Pop” art works. In an effort to invoke change and spread awareness of social struggles, Warhol utilized his talents and his obsession with celebrities and was able to create a category which was accepted in society as a major category of art. I feel the same can be seen in “street art” and “graffiti art”

I noticed a trend in focusing on popular culture of a particular period and adding a personal artistic twist, as Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring have done, making it possible to create a new category of culture and art. Basquiat produced artworks “made on doors, fences and other supports, they are presented not as paintings so much as banners,… things meant to be carried into battle, posted as warnings...” Basquiat infused paintings and poetry, and created a new art form speaking on social injustices and global exploitation, i.e. Jim Crow and Eye-Africa.

Jean-Michel-Basquiat-1984 eye-africa.jpg jim-crow.jpg

Keith Haring, “played to the sobering realities of the Reagan era: nuclear dread, social welfare breakdown, unprecedented public greed and immorality and the dawn of AIDS.” Haring focused on the phenomenon of the 80s by producing art forms that focused on depicting “mankind's imminent apocalyptic end, via, a) nuclear oblivion, b) alien invasion, c) viral holocaust, d) machine takeover of our minds and bodies, e) catastrophic breakdown of public morality.” Towards Haring’s end, he focused many of his art works on AIDs activism.

keith_haring_safesex_by_lostintheeyes.jpgexternal image USA_IgnoranceEqualsFear_Keith-Haring.1989.jpg

In more recent art you can see the trend reoccurring, as graffiti and street artists are using graffiti as an art platforms and a means for speaking out about injustices, and social struggles within different societies. Faith47 is an artist who is responsible for “The Long Wait” painting showcased on street corners and walls with in the cities of South Africa. These pictures depict individuals waiting for a change within their society that will change their situation and outlook on life.

the_long_wait_-_18.jpg the_long_wait_-_15.jpg the_long_wait_-26.jpg the_log_wait_-12.jpg


Sagorika Sen

“Society has been completely urbanized…
The street is a place to play and learn...
The urban space of the street is a place for talk, given over as much to the exchange of words and signs as it is to the exchange of things. A place where speech becomes writing. A place where speech can become 'savage' and, by escaping rules and institutions, inscribe itself on walls."- Henri Lefebvre (The Urban Revolution)

Whenever you think of cities like Paris and Barcelona you think of them as the cultural capitals/epicenters of the world. However a city like Mumbai in India always triggers the words poverty,hunger, pollution and dirt in your mind. In other words a world beset with problems and with virtually no time for art. Especially on the streets.

So what happens when you have a bunch of urban globally educated twenty something individuals come together (who have been exposed to myriad cultural art forms around the world) with a burning passion to beautify the walls of their own city? You get the “Wall project”. These individuals just had to do something about this dirty wall that snaked along the local train railway tracks of Mumbai. This wall had remnants of spit, defecation and dirt that just had to be cleansed and replaced.

The Wall project just like every other form of street art was met with tremendous amounts of warnings, backlash from the state authorities. However for these dynamic group of art lovers with a burning desire to do something for their city- nothing was going to stop them.

The main aim of the Bombay Wall project was to add visual elements of color, form and texture to a space that is usually seen by people regularly and misused. Through this process they wanted people to be more observant about the spaces we use everyday and how we can use various art forms in the public sphere to generate interest about our mundane lives. In their own way they wanted to create a dialogic art form, to start a conversation without any form of political, social or religious affiliations.

Some other projects that branched out of the Bombay Wall Project are the “Dirty wall Project” and the “Bollywood art project”
This picture gives you an idea on how these artists chose to only work on dilapidated building and try to add a whiff of color and life into them

Here is an interesting video on the transformation of the "Wall" in Mumbai.

In conclusion street art seems like such a passive yet effective way to speak out about problems and issues. To me it is the only form of expression that people live with every single day of their lives.


Week 9:
Walking Down the Street: A Glimpse into the different shades of Street Art
Elizabeth-Burton Jones

external image images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQ038ewjPjkWASXtEVnXBB6A0xpLAtBRcvTWoD6y5RFzdXaYtXfXw

I believe that Street Art is a very complex category. I often get confused by street art because the meaning behind the art is not as apparent as other forms of art. I am not saying that a person has to have a meaning or a 100 word definition of the art that is presented, however street art seems to be more "up for interpretation" than other classical forms of art. The meaning of the street art depends on the street that the art is on, the city, the news, and the culture. However, the materials this week, helped me grasp the definition of street art and helped me understand that street art is an extension of the city in that it breathes life into every alley and every crevice of the city.external image images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTOHFHB6RWKobVp7cfdBff7EkYepPRATaoe0m97N-bCYsJto5Kqexternal image images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQ12CbhKTj_GNmGsR-B1vdSah76wLaGzC2J_nSDkmNprPlmuQVfYQ
In my hometown of Canton, Ohio, street art is for the beautification of the city. The trashcans are beautified, the parking garages are beautified, and the vacant walls are beatified. Some of the art can hint at a hidden meaning, but for the most part it seems to reflect the very strong art community in my city.

external image images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTaQrjsZgZ4Cjql1oWA5VD5kSgI-NQyN6fFd0lXPq_BRYcKCZm_mw

external image images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQ9FUMMdY0Zv7NSHxQOrhEbhRa5pqbXCbcYwBGCAi5QHzeFOtutEw

external image images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSMjSu5rwyfqyWEP3NDjOj8oXRWUwLyE-gPC7MbEcIX4YDz8ggygQ

external image images?q=tbn:ANd9GcR3ZvPBVP1hAeW5OgUIfnRD6hLruL0V72EukGi_FfZabxQ8rAwm

external image images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRw32I2mwKPgxP0mlaTmQ85mJiB9q-aSxgltaxacVO0vhmdPgk5eAexternal image images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSpFRXvUYZQ3DP7TYPGcHVvgqoJG0iY_b4WseIAEoj580mu82o0
external image images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRc12syK0uBLLVaGA4jAYKDtAw5vyNSsLjSNAwb6G0VgZ2pIP9w6Q
Art appreciation is very present in my hometown and it is used as a mirror to society. It reflects the art appreciation.

While moving to a bigger city, I have noticed that the street art is more for freedom of expression. For instance, in DC, I have noticed such pieces of art that include or suggest a movement and I have seen pieces of art that are for beautification aspects, but most of the pieces seem to be more message based. For instance there is a “stickman” that continues to pop up around my neighborhood in DC and in other areas (suggested article: This “stickman” is interesting and
external image images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTHQY7C6ApUj-L4dM1PIX1sBtUBiWmWPw7VeQDq-MqsEYX5bkqW

In Italy, it seems as though street art is very reflective of the city. There are chalkings and graffiti reflect the beauty of the history of the city (including the art history).IMG_0618 2.JPG
Through street art we can see the city. Street art can define the people that inhabit the spaces.

Another form of street art could be the street art of music. Literally having artist on the street singing. This form of street performance can be vary in talent. I think the connection between both forms of street art are very interesting, both artists find the street to be their canvas. Both reflect the city as well the grit of the city.
All in all, street art is a “mystery”, it is attractive and unknown.

"Many artists associated with the ‘urban art movement’ don’t consider themselves ‘street’ or ‘graffiti’ artists, but as artists who consider the city their necessary working environment.” (Irvine 1)

Works Cited:

Martin Irvine, "The Work on the Street: Street Art and Visual Culture" (pdf). Chapter in The Handbook of Visual Culture, ed. Barry Sandywell and Ian Heywood. London/New York: Berg, 2012: 235-278. This is a preprint pdf of the book chapter; for personal use only. See also the thumbnail list images cited (pdf). This book chapter represents a work in progress toward my own book on street art and city.

Sara Anderson
Overall Impressions

I found JR’s installation stirring, and hope I get the opportunity to see it in person. It was an interesting point that he was received differently in DC than he was in NY. It may be that the work stands out more in Washington, but it may also speak to the mindset of the people living in the different cities.

Street art captures my attention primarily because of creative options. The buildings and walls that are the foundation of the art can add to the impact of the work, particularly when chosen carefully.
external image london-street-art-25-L-7NN21g.jpeg

The point may of course be different between works, and the environment can be used to illicit very different reactions. For instance, the work above uses the fence in a very provoking manner while the images below utilize their foundation more lightheartedly.
external image london-street-art-25-L-GxvUcx.jpegexternal image london-street-art-25-L-M4JO24.jpeg
The location of the work can also have bearing on the size of the image as well. Many can be building sized, complicated works that command attention. Some of them, however, are in miniature. For example, Pablo Delgado typically does miniature street scenes like the one below.
external image london-street-art-25-L-3W6yUW.jpeg
Being so integrated with its physical surroundings puts the art in dialogue with its community and the history of the place. It plays on people’s senses of humor and emotional reactions. I certainly don’t think of art in a museum, gallery, or shop as “sterile”, but sometimes it adds something to my experience of art to experience outside of an institutionalized area.

The materials used in the work also make this a unique art form. JR’s installation is an excellent example, with the black and white pictures he glued up. The size of it and the grayscale give the work a very somber and serious feeling. Typically, street art is very bright and colorfully painted. The variations in the style make it one of my favorite forms of art.


Arielle Orem- Week 9

As I read about graffiti and watched the film Bomb It, I was interested in the power that the writers reclaimed through their work. In many cases, the writers were from marginalized groups (often a racial or socio-economic distinction) and felt as if they were invisible to the dominant culture. Through their work, the writers were making their presence known visually in public spaces; their work interrupted the city's landscape and people took notice. Graffiti became about getting your name in front of as many eyes as possible.

I am reminded of the theories of Hegel and Bienveniste concerning identity. Both scholars discuss the power that comes with asserting yourself as "I" (or with your name) and having it recognized by others. By writing their own names in public places, writers were confident that their work would be seen by many people. Bieneniste discusses the objectification of people by excluding them from participating in the conversation; writers use graffiti to force their subjectivity and voice their presence. The general public is unable to respond to the writer, giving her or him power over the public. In Hegel's master/slave dilectic, the writer has made himself master over the public.

Elisabet Diaz Sanmartin
The Medieval Wall

When talking about Street Art, it is clear that the canvas is the city; but some cities are more appealing canvases than others. The street art scene in Barcelona is bright and dynamic. "El Raval" is one of the principal focuses of ephemeral artistic expressions making it one of the most multicultural and vibrant neighborhoods in the city. The name of the neighborhood comes from the hispanic-arabic name “Arrabad” that means a spontaneous creation of groups of houses and shops and it is usually related with a low-income population. This poor neighborhood in the heart of the city with a chaotic architecture, affordable housing, dangerous streets and diverse community has triggered the imagination of urban artists.
Ivana Flores Mural Carrer Fernandina.jpg
Artist Ivana Flores working in El Raval

As an analogy for postmodern art, high and low culture are clashing in El Raval. One person can buy the most exclusive shoes by a cool city designer and at the same time eat a Shawarma for three Euros in a ramshackle shop where all the other costumers are from Bangladesh. Within the imaginary walls of this neighborhood exists a constant interaction between art galleries, old bars, prostitutes, trendy clubs, restaurants, fashion shops, artisanal establishments, editorials, tourists and immigrants. Urban artists feel compelled by the endless cultural manifestations and become part of the bustling dialogue of the neighborhood.

Here the metaphor of Intramuros/Extramuros has another nuance; It is an statement of principles. The neighborhood was included into the walls of the city during the Medieval age so it posses this “psychogeography” of the space of being outside and inside the wall. During the eighties, the government focused on investing in the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary ART (MACBA) which as a result created an aesthetic contrast between avant-garde architecture with a medieval one. Quickly, the area attracted tourists, became a skater’s sanctuary and is now used as the space hosting a famous electronic music festival called Sonar. Ironically, art lovers frequent the neighborhood because of the street art rather than the artwork inside the walls of the museum; However, numerous street artist that have been used public spaces as artistic laboratories also simultaneously present in galleries and museums. (Irvine 17)

Sixeart in Tate Modern

This viceversa characteristic that defines the “Intramuros/Extramuros concept is also reflected in the trajectory of the artists. Sixart (Sergio Hidalgo) started with graffiti. His artwork inherited the fantasy and childlike naïveté of Miro’s art (also from Barcelona) but with the fluorescent colors of 80´s aesthetics. The result is a series of enthusiastic comic like figures formed by simple forms overlapping one another. In 2008, Sixart was commissioned by the Tate Modern to form part of the collective exhibition of street art in London. The exhibition consisted in six gigantic walls’murals in the Tate factory building. – I have to confess that the lack of patina in these murals make the artwork less interesting than when they are in a spontaneous void space in the street. Now. Sixeart is a renowned artist and has his own studio.
Miss Van in Barcelona

Miss Van in Barcelona

Conversely, the emerging street artist Ivana Flores started her artwork in a studio using traditional canvas and lately she has started to use the street as a canvas. She also is very active participating in collective art street events like BAD (Barcelona Art District) Swap or The Walking Gallery. While some local street artists are achieving a notorious international fame other famous street artists (Bansky, Obey or Missvan) are coming to the city to participate in the spontaneous art on the streets and enriching the diversity and quality of street art in Barcelona.
Obey @ Barcelona (via txmx 2).jpg
Obey in Barcelona
  • Street Art Tate Modern Exhibition. With Sixeart

Street Art and Post-Pop: Reversing the Walls

Quick links to my resources:

--Martin Irvine