Graffiti: Vandalism or Art Form?

The Warriors brought me back to the earlier years of my childhood… a New York City covered in graffiti. Now it’s extremely rare to see walls, shops, or subway trains covered in graffiti. Part of the reason for the decline in graffiti art has to do with heavy fines and penalties. Individuals who decide to use the subway as their canvas can face serious charges. In 2007, Alain Maridueña aka Ket faced a $5,000 fine and community service for vandalism. Maridueña is often called one of the “godfathers of graffiti” due to the international recognition he gained for his art. Today he speaks at universities and his work is shown in galleries. Maridueña says that he “grew up in Brooklyn in the ’80s. It was a tough time. We had a lot to deal with, including the crack epidemic. This was a positive thing. It gave me a sense of self-esteem.” It is clear, from Maridueña’s statement that he thought of graffiti as a positive outlet. Many people do not share his perspective on this issue.

Graffiti became very popular during the 1970s in New York City. It is considered to be a highly controversial subject. Some people view graffiti as an art form, while others consider it to be vandalism and a cause of urban decay. Often the younger crowds used graffiti as a form of rebellion, communication, and expression. Gangs used it to mark their territories, and others used it to create murals to honor their loved ones.

I think graffiti gave people a sense of self-importance. It allowed them to leave their mark and their influence on a specific location. It also provided recognition and fame. Since, graffiti is more often suppressed rather than encouraged, I would like to know if anyone believes that it should be recognized as a true art form.

Jon Naar

Subway Train
Alain Maridueña's Graffiti