Who are we to judge one’s creativity?

Who are we to judge ones creativity?

Karisah Watkins-Martin, Staff Writer

Grand Rapids resembles that of a painting canvas – one streaked with vibrant blues and yellows.

Walking through the city, your eyes observe the 100 foot tile mural of a woman, her skin a glowing orange complexion while her long flowing hair seems to reflect that of a broken mirror-one whose glass shards appear to make up the strands of flowing hair. And while this mural is one of the most prominent artistic pieces in the city, there seem to be more obscure ones hidden deep within the crevices of Grand Rapids. Tucked in the deserted alleys lies a colorful collage – one full of esoteric symbols and designs that may appear rather obscure to the untrained eye. While the mural placed on the side of the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum and the street art prove to be two artistic pieces on opposite sides of the spectrum,both are masterpieces.

Art is defined as the application or expression of human creative skill and imagination. Who are we to determine what is art and what isn’t? Who are we to judge one’s individuality? Graffiti-whether on the sides of buildings, in alleyways, or on train cars- is art.

For many years, many have tried to kill the graffiti argument- arguing against its destructive manner. However, Graffiti does not “destroy” property…It simply breathes life into the otherwise dull and faded gray brick walls. Others might deem graffiti as a “violence attractor.” They say the guns and knifes depicted on the drawings will lead to more violence and more killings. However, they fail to realize that referring to guns don’t kill people; the people who pull the trigger are the true murderers.

Graffiti is like a foreign language. To the untrained eye, it may simply appear as urban decay or vandalism. However, Graffiti is simply misunderstood, deemed a crime because some are unwilling to look past the obscure lines and shapes on the sides of our city walls. Graffiti tells a story, whether haunting or empowering. Graffiti is the social identity for generations of youth…it is the voice for the young that tells the inspiring tales of the old.

Many find graffiti intimidating, so they deem it as unethical simply because they fear it. However, we need to stop fearing the unknown simply because it’s “weird” or “we don’t understand it.” It is the rather intimidating and perplexing nature of the street-art that makes it unparalleled in the modern art society.

When you examine the true meaning of the word “art” you ask yourself what it is capable of doing. There is more to art than just the aesthetic value; art has the ability to cut through the dross of everyday existence. Art holds up a mirror the world and society as a whole so that we are able to glimpse the idiocy of it. It is able to show us reality in a world that prefers the “prettier picture,” it shows us who we really are, both good and bad, as a community. Graffiti is able to do just that; it allows us to abandon our blinders and clear the muck from our glasses that have been tainted by the moral pollution and grotesque nature of the world around us.

It is when you least expect it, walking down a dimly-lit alley to your car or snaked around an abandoned brick building, that graffiti seems to grab you. It is able to entice us and transport us to a sensual and aesthetically pleasing space in our minds outside of the traditional art galleries and museums. That’s the power of graffiti; its unpredictable nature has the ability to captivate you, anyplace and anytime.

Graffiti is art, and we as a community need to recognize this and learn to value it. Instead of scuffing at the cryptic shapes on the side of an abandoned garage, welcome it. Welcome it as a form of modern expression and allow it to transport you from this deserted alleyway to a different world; one that seems to be more appealing than the gray stone ways that lied there before.