You walk alone down a dark street, hood over your ears to block out the cold autumn night. You keep an eye out to your left and right as you turn down the pitch black alley. It seems like the coast is clear, so you take out your supplies and start spraying. Twenty minutes passed and you feel the bliss of creativity rushing through your veins when suddenly you hear footsteps and shouting directed towards you from the other side of the alley so you take off running, leaving your masterpiece unfinished. When most people think of artists, this scenario is not the first thing that comes to mind; usually they think of pristine galleries with paintings displayed under bright fluorescent lights as appetizers are carried around on small trays and patrons applaud or scrutinize every piece of work. These two different scenes seem like they have nothing in common, while in fact they have more in common than most people think.
Street art is a newer form of art that usually involves spray paint, brick walls, and quick getaways. While early forms of street art were just considered graffiti and often gang related, the artistic craft has evolved into so much more. When most young people today think of a modern artist, the name that usually comes to mind is Banksy. Banksy and many others have taken what many people stigmatized as unsophisticated graffiti and turned street art into thought provoking and beautiful pieces. Many street artists today can do works of art with a spray can and a brick wall that many prominent artists of the past couldn’t hope to replicate with the nicest oil paintings and a canvas. Street art views the world as a canvas and while many critics say they’re eyesores around a city, some artists are able to turn a boring street corner into a beautiful landscape of color and culture with a barrier of entry simply being a couple dollars for a spray can and an empty wall in their neighborhood. What most of these artists do is illegal since many of them don’t bother to get a permit or even permission to start painting and this part of the movement should not be condoned, but this form of art gives people that would otherwise never be noticed the opportunity to express themselves.
And isn’t that what art really is? A medium for people to feel free and express themselves without judgement. Modern art began that way and in some places still is, but many people view it as something that only people in high society are involved in so it isn’t viewed as cool or popular. But in reality the true artists, whether they paint on a canvas with oil paintings in front of a park landscape, or spray paint a mural of Lebron James in a Lakers jersey on a street corner in Los Angeles, they are all the same in that they want to express their creativity and skill for the world to see. It is true that at one point, street art was just tagging to claim territory in inner cities, but it has now evolved to convey complex, beautiful, and sometimes painful messages about the neighborhoods or country that they’re painted in and should be given the same respect as artists of old whose paintings hang in galleries all over the world.
…to be continued.