Graffiti, art or destruction of property

Breanna Roen, Staff Writer

As a resident of Grand Forks, chances are you or someone you know has been stuck waiting for a train to exit the town. We all get frustrated if there is somewhere we have to be and the train starts moving in reverse. As irritating as the situation may seem, we cannot help but watch the train go by.

As the train slowly drags on the tracks, I have always been fascinated by some of the graffiti that is spread across multiple cars. Simple cans of spray paint of many colors showcase themselves on the sides of the cars, showing everything from gang signs, curse words or actual paintings that look as if they could be hung up in a museum. These different styles of graffiti have caused quite a stir between people.

Is graffiti a work of art which should be maintained? Or is it a destruction of property that should have consequences followed with it?

Graffiti can be found in almost any nook and cranny of our streets, sidewalks and tunnels all around the world. defines graffiti as “writing or drawings scribbled, scratched or sprayed illicitly on a wall or other surface in a public place.”

The death of Bland made members of Black Lives Matter unite and hold remembrance towards her death. Only a few short hours after the mural was created, an unknown person painted “All Lives Matter” over the mural which sparked much controversy.

— Breanna Roen - Dakota Student

Graffiti is usually created through a few cans of spray paint and a creative mind. Graffiti can be traced back all the way to the earliest eras of cavemen and the many cave drawings that have been found around the world. These cave paintings have been seen as a way for people of the era to tell stories of their travels and encounters along the way. Explorers and historians alike have viewed these early forms of graffiti as art. In the earlier centuries such as 14th and 15th centuries, many artists who could not afford parchment would create these wall paintings in or on the side of their homes.

Artists like Leonardo Da Vinci were able to create pieces the size of a wall in a home. With our current era the view on graffiti has most certainly changed.

With a rise of gang representation and rebellious youth and adults, the degrading form of this art begins to show onto our streets. In larger urban cities like Los Angeles and Chicago, the amount of inappropriate words, images and symbols that are being shown on to these streets is ever increasing. These rebellious folk have of potentially destroying property with curse words, images conveying inappropriate actions, images or gang symbols which may not be noticed but only by fellow gang members.

These examples of graffiti make it hard for people to enjoy graffiti without relating the images back to delinquents.

There have been a few instances where graffiti is a very large controversy among already controversial topics occurring in our nation.

One example of this is the Sandra Bland memorial mural that was created by two Canadian artists in memory of Sandra Bland. The death of Bland made members of Black Lives Matter unite and hold remembrance towards her death.

Only a few short hours after the mural was created, an unknown person painted “All Lives Matter” over the mural, which sparked much controversy. This is only one example of how graffiti is able stir up controversial topics already surfacing in our day to day life.

What’s your opinion on graffiti? Is it a great example of modern art which is able to be conveyed to all who pass by? Or is it seen as a public nuisance which is a defacement of property and graphic images not meant for the public eye?

Many different ages, genders, cultures and everyone far and between has an opinion about graffiti. Seeing it on trains or under bridges around the Grand Forks area is a regular occurrence, and we are exposed to the subject everyday.

Next time you are sitting waiting for the train to pass, stop and take a look at the images that appear on our local trains or locations around the area. Seeing graffiti on a bridge or in a rather peculiar place where it looks like no person could possibly reach always leaves me with the same lingering question.

How in the world did they actually get up there?

Breanna Roen is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected]