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New York Graffiti Art: Its Birth, Growth and Looming Death

New York Graffiti
New York Graffiti Art: Its Birth, Growth and Looming Death
on November, 27 2013

Graffiti has been in existence since the old times with its examples traced to the Ancient Egypt period. More examples were also recorded in Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire. Today, New York Graffiti has become the most popular wall art with several of the city’s streets adorned with these striking drawings.

Graffiti in modern times

In modern times, graffiti mostly consists of scribbles or drawings that are scratched or sprayed illegally on a wall, paved ground or any surface in a public area. The common media used in graffiti today are marker pens, spray paint and sometimes charcoal. The practice is prohibited in many countries and is often referred to as a form of vandalism with which the perpetrator can be arrested and imprisoned.

Graffiti Art

Graffiti has become widespread in many places especially in big cities. In Europe, a section of Amsterdam is a hub of wall writings. Ditto in Turkey and Greece. In America, New York City is considered as the Mecca of Graffiti Art in which many graffiti authors rose to become well-known artists themselves.

Graffiti started in New York in the 1970s with a bunch of growing up kids that used it is a game when they started to write and draw on building walls and subway cars. Kids in this era treated graffiti in a much the same manner as kids today would value baseball cards. Sacha Jenkins, an ex-Rolling Stone reporter who is now a culture historian and co-curator of “Write of Passage,” a graffiti art exhibit, said graffiti was part of his childhood in the New York setting in 1977.

Financial support for the arts

The question on whether graffiti is an art or form of vandalism has somewhat been disregarded as an issue in New York. The practice has become part of the culture of this densely populated city. Graffiti art even flourished more when financial support for the arts was cut in public educational institutions. Budding artists thus started to cultivate wall art as their instrument for expression. It is in the depth of the murals of New York City that future fashion designers, graphic and fine artists, logo architects and other visual artists began their foundation. And since many promising and talented artists took refuge from wall art, it created a community on the borders of New York. The graffiti works, in part, have become one of the attractions of the city that a visitor is said to have not seen the soul of the Big Apple without visiting the graffiti areas.

Endangered art

Graffiti finds its niche in public places. Yet while it is regarded as a unique art form despite its vandal nature, no government or private entity can protect it. It is there for the taking, anytime, by beholders. It is there as a tool of expression for aspiring and known artists. But it is not covered by any conservation policies or guidelines from the city and its people. It is vulnerable in many ways possible – both from the elements since it is exposed, and from the possibility that it can be stripped out when the situation calls for it.

City development

Dearth of dwelling space is a growing problem of New York. Although many residents have taken to residing in the suburbs, apartment living is still the number one pick by a bigger part of the population. With plans of revamping the city by putting up newer buildings, graffiti walls might be the first to go in order to give way to this development program. This could mean that the masked artist of Bronx walls will soon be disappearing and the charcoal wall on West Farms Road not far from East 172nd Street that served as a graffiti mural gallery for many years will no longer be seen. It is disheartening and yet the writings have no power to voice out resistance.

Bernadine Racoma

Bernadine is a writer, researcher, professional and multi-awarded blogger and new media consultant. She brings with her a rich set of experience in the corporate world, as well as in the field of research and writing. Having taken early retirement after working as an international civil servant and traveling the world for 22 years, she has aggressively pursued her main interest in writing and research. You can also find Bernadine Racoma at .

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