Graffiti: Art Or Vandalism?

Graffiti: Art Or Vandalism?

Graffiti as art has the power to make a difference, and tells a story worth reading.
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In the debate over graffiti’s classification as art or vandalism, I always fell somewhere in the middle: graffiti is, in it's purest form, an artistic expression of ideas and emotions, but it is also often unwarranted. This debate struck me as I walked through the streets of New York City last week. Out of all the places I have traveled to, cities are my favorite spots to explore and people watch. They now also have a special place in my heart because their buildings have become canvases for some of the most honest art I have seen. I understand the controversy surrounding graffiti and respect both sides of the argument. That being said, I think that the positive aspects of graffiti are worth being celebrated.

Two years ago, I visited Jamaica on a service trip. The first impression that I had of Jamaica was the delicious food we picked up at the first take out restaurant we could find outside the airport. Still the best fast food I’ve ever tasted. The second impression I had was the attitude of the people. Every person that we passed said hello, waved, or stopped to talk to the local man who helped us find our way around.

Looking back on the trip, I remember the first thing that made me feel welcome was the graffiti on the side of a building in Kingston. I wish I had taken a photo of it, because it really captures the overall character of the trip. One person had written the word “love.” It had faded over time and would have been invisible had it not been for another person that wrote in larger writing after it “will always be enough." This is my favorite type of graffiti because it shows a dialogue between two people that have probably never met. Some of the people we met in Jamaica were so full of light and yet they had so much less than what Americans consider as living in poverty. It’s safe to say that I will be returning to Jamaica some day, and I can’t wait to see who else I will meet.

Graffiti has become a more legitimate form of art through artists like Banksy, who has had his work displayed in various exhibits. People buy his artwork and he has many followers who are fans of his political activism and satirical images. Graffiti can be used to vandalize, but at the same time, it can be used for good. Graffiti is not all names, swears, and offensive pictures. Some of the graffiti I have seen have positive messages and sometimes quotations that someone felt was worth sharing.

Public statement is part of the power of graffiti, but I think it could be just as powerful without being unwarranted. I like to think of graffiti in a similar way to scars on a body, because it serves as evidence that the building (or the body) has been lived in. Many people have taken to graffiti to showcase the voices that feel unheard. Graffiti has value as art and it tells a story worth reading. Instead of walls being used to separate people from each other, graffiti brings people together and keeps conversations going.

Cover Image Credit: Banksy

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8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.
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Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.


7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

For these reasons and more, my dad will forever be my No. 1 man. I love you!

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From One Nerd To Another

My contemplation of the complexities between different forms of art.

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Aside from reading Guy Harrison's guide to eliminating scientific ignorance called, "At Least Know This: Essential Science to Enhance Your Life" and, "The Breakthrough: Immunotherapy and the Race to Cure Cancer" by Charles Graeber, an informative and emotional historical account explaining the potential use of our own immune systems to cure cancer, I read articles and worked on my own writing in order to keep learning while enjoying my winter break back in December. I also took a trip to the Guggenheim Museum.


I wish I was artistic. Generally, I walk through museums in awe of what artists can do. The colors and dainty details simultaneously inspire me and remind me of what little talent I posses holding a paintbrush. Walking through the Guggenheim was no exception. Most of the pieces are done by Hilma af Klint, a 20th-century Swedish artist expressing her beliefs and curiosity about the universe through her abstract painting. I was mostly at the exhibit to appease my mom (a K - 8th-grade art teacher), but as we continued to look at each piece and read their descriptions, I slowly began to appreciate them and their underlying meanings.


I like writing that integrates symbols, double meanings, and metaphors into its message because I think that the best works of art are the ones that have to be sought after. If the writer simply tells you exactly what they were thinking and how their words should be interpreted, there's no room for imagination. An unpopular opinion in high school was that reading "The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne was fun. Well, I thought it was. At the beginning of the book, there's a scene where Hawthorne describes a wild rosebush that sits just outside of the community prison. As you read, you are free to decide whether it's an image of morality, the last taste of freedom and natural beauty for criminals walking toward their doom, or a symbol of the relationship between the Puritans with their prison-like expectations and Hester, the main character, who blossoms into herself throughout the novel. Whichever one you think it is doesn't matter, the point is that the rosebush can symbolize whatever you want it to. It's the same with paintings - they can be interpreted however you want them to be.


As we walked through the building, its spiral design leading us further and further upwards, we were able to catch glimpses of af Klint's life through the strokes of her brush. My favorite of her collections was one titled, "Evolution." As a science nerd myself, the idea that the story of our existence was being incorporated into art intrigued me. One piece represented the eras of geological time through her use of spirals and snails colored abstractly. She clued you into the story she was telling by using different colors and tones to represent different periods. It felt like reading "The Scarlet Letter" and my biology textbook at the same time. Maybe that sounds like the worst thing ever, but to me it was heaven. Art isn't just art and science isn't just science. Aspects of different studies coexist and join together to form something amazing that will speak to even the most untalented patron walking through the museum halls.

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