In case you haven’t noticed, graffiti is an art form. Of course, people have been expressing themselves through graffiti [from the Greek word graphein—to write—but you knew that] since ancient times. Archaeologists have found graffiti on ancient Roman buildings, at Pompeii and on Mayan sites. And we also know that people who don’t like their buildings defaced have been following graffiti writers around with scrub brushes and sponges ever since. In the 20th and 21st centuries, street artists often have been similarly disparaged as taggers, scribblers and vandals.
More recently, though some graffiti makers have gained recognition as artists, and cities have embraced their works. Sometimes the works are part of urban art competiitons, sometimes they’re more spontaneous, and sometimes they’re even commissioned by cities. In their highest forms, “graffiti” murals are amazing works of vision, artistry and skill. In some areas, they transform blank, neighborhood concrete-brickscapes into urban landmarks and give an otherwise struggling street a civic and psychological boost. Cities that commission these works deserve kudos for enlightened outside-the-box thinking and urban planning.
You can view an international gallery of large-scale graffiti murals at Web Urbanist. Calling the gallery “13 panoramic street artists stencil far and spray wide,” the site features huge murals that are breathtaking in concept, scope and detail. For those of us who can’t even spray paint a lawn chair without making a mess—and for those with an appreciation of artistic talent—the murals are nothing short of astonishing.
[Image credit: phlegmcomicnews]
Gloria Shur Bilchik is a freelance writer and community volunteer in St. Louis, Missouri. She is the editor of Occasional Planet. She views the preservation of progressive values as vital to making the US a humane, livable place for her children and grandchildren.