Graffiti: Art or Vandalism?

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Art: the ultimate form of self expression. But, what constitutes an art? And, who decides? These very questions plague society as it tries to decide and define the official status of graffiti--art or vandalism? Because it has found its way into art galleries and because of the community of artists who challenge and inspire each other, graffiti should be considered art and as a way to express oneself.
The origin and history of graffiti is not what one might expect. Believed to have been created by a Philadelphia high school student named Cornbread in 1967, it was a bold effort to catch the attention of a girl (De Melker). In this same time period, graffiti sprung up in New York as well. It was “one among many forms of social protest” during the 1960s, “an era marked by social unrest” (Prahlad). Graffiti artists, often known as “writers”, used graffiti as a form of protest, most clearly exemplified in the “‘bombing’ (painting) of subway trains in direct response to the bombing of Cambodia and Vietnam” (Prahlad). The graffiti movement reached its peak in the 1970s, also known as graffiti’s “golden age” (Ehrlich). “The modern graffiti movement, associated with the hip-hop culture of break dancing and rap music, started primarily among black and Latino teenagers in Philadelphia and New York in the late 1960s” (Derfner 30). The tagging phenomenon spread far and fast because these artists “usually wrote on subway cars, which had the advantage of moving their writing across the city” (Derfner 30). This dispersion increased the popularity of graffiti, and the movement spread from city to city, painting the nation.
The influx of graffiti in urban cities raised some concerns with citizens. City officials were the main adversaries. So much s...

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