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Kyle H

United States

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Graffiti: Friend or Foe

March 16, 2016

Graffiti: Friend or Foe

    “Graffiti is not art, it’s vandalism.” “Graffiti is illegal and shouldn’t be done.” Graffiti is one of the most controversial topics that exists in this day and age. Some say it’s a misuse of public space, but others, like Boniface Mwangi from Nairobi, Kenya and Marc Schiller say other things. I, for one, believe that graffiti can bring life back to decrepit warehouses that have suffered years of  neglect and provide people ways to make money using their imagination.
Mwangi was a photographer who often found scenes of brutal violence. He says, “‘Covering that violence changed my life.’ I said, “‘No, I must do something to make sure this doesn’t happen again.’”  Briana Duggan and Robert Howell, the authors that wrote about Mwangi’s experience,  from CNN say,  “The horrors of what he’d seen kept Mwangi up at night, tossing and turning.” In 2008, “the ethnic violence that followed the disputed 2007 elections would motivate Mwangi to become an activist for social justice.”
    Mwangi wanted to speak out so he quit his job and began a traveling show across the country for peace. In 2009, he founded Pawa254, which is a play on activism, but he referred to it as an artivism. It is based in Nairobi Kenya, to help people like Mwangi. Mwangi, along with a group of graffiti artists and targeted Kenya’s political elite, hoping to send the message. Mwangi has been faced with death, beatings, and jail, but he says he will “always go back to the streets.”
Apart from that, Randy Kennedy, report for the New York Times, says “...even graffiti has sunk deeply into the DNA of the 21st century visual culture.” Many people may not like the fact that there is paint splattered on buildings, but they must understand that it is considered art, and there is no way of escaping the paint on overhangs and abandoned buildings. Marc Schiller, a founder of Wooster Collective said,  “The motivation of a lot of these artists is not to deface public property,” but, “It’s to find places that are neglected and to bring some sort of energy back to them, to reconnect them to people.”
    The bottom line is that there are many forms of street art, whether it is permitted or not. All graffiti may not be legal, but it is a way for people to express themselves means they are creating art.
Kennedy, Randy. "A Feast of Street Art, Luminous and Legal." The New York Times. The New York Times, 29 Aug. 2013. Web. 13 Mar. 2016
"Boniface Mwangi: From Covering the News, to Making It." CNN. Cable News Network, n.d. Web. 13 Mar. 2016


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