A Column by Julie Hryniewicz
What does this mean, anyway? I see this image and images such as these in different parts of the city and I wonder what type of person damages the property of other people. I feel frustrated that our commercial property has also become a victim of two different pieces of graffiti.
I see graffiti as a cry for help. An outward expression of inner pain, boredom or perhaps a way to buck authority. I see a person or persons who have little regard for the expense, the inconvenience and the stress of having paint damage on brick, stucco, siding or cement.
Apparently there is an unwritten rule in the graffiti culture that it is not to be done on personal property, cars, places of worship or small businesses, but who do they think owns most of the buildings? It is the property of small business owners who have to fork out the resources to remove their ‘work’.
Perhaps we should get together and find out who is responsible so that we can sit him down and place some white paper in front of him to see what kind of an artist he really is. I say ‘him’ since most graffiti is apparently done by young males.
I am curious about what his message is. He must be trying to tell us something. He must think that he has one up on all of us because he is able to do his work under the guise of darkness, with his face covered, where he will not get caught.
Maybe he has already been caught and done some time or some community service hours or received some probation for his crimes. Maybe he is still in custody.
All I know is that I wonder what might have become of this individual if his creativity had been encouraged or nurtured as a child or if he was given a healthy outlet for his creativity. Maybe he is the next great artist of our time but he has become so angry at the world around him, because of circumstances that are difficult or challenging.
I see someone who has potential but who chooses to waste it by hurting others, with full intention. I see someone who I wish would have the courage to step up and tell us why he chooses to express himself in such a toxic and disrespectful way. They call it art, but I don’t recall hiring him for his efforts of permanent spray paint on original decades-old brick.
This week, I had the pleasure of putting up a piece of beautiful abstract art, done by a local artist by the name of Jackie Janisse. Jackie has used her passion in a way that brings joy to the lives of others and she gets to be compensated for her work.
I also witnessed a fabulous event, called Fashion 4 A Passion, where my sister and her class and volunteers from Superior Heights put on a spectacular evening of recycled clothing, modelling, music and so much more. They shared their talents with us in a way that was entertaining and supported a local charity.
Then we watched a performance of Wizard of Oz where my husband’s niece and her dog played Dorothy and Toto. We were beyond impressed with the quality of the performances and all of the remarkable actors, actresses, set designers, directors, musicians and more. They thrilled the audiences and gained confidence, accolades and appreciation in return.
At the show, we ran into a former colleague who plays music five days a week, in his retirement, and loving every minute of it. I love supporting artists and performers, of all kinds.
When street art or this type of graffiti expression is done on surfaces that were designated for this purpose, I am all for it.
If only everyone could be guided to use utilize their own hobbies, passions, talents and interests in a positive way, that was not a criminal offence, then we wouldn’t have to go around trying to remove damage to our real estate.
If you are reading this and know of a person responsible for making his mark on our community, in such a destructive way, perhaps you can let him know that I would love to understand what drives him to do such things.
As a community, we need to find better ways for youth to spend their time and have their voices heard. Since many who live in poverty, do not have as much access to organized sports or recreational programs, is there anything we can do engage at risk youth more proactively?
What is the message of this graffiti anyway? What is he trying to say? It is lost in translation.
If you have a child who may be involved or is at risk of this behaviour, maybe some blank white canvasses might be helpful. Creativity must be expressed, somehow…
‘The difference between graffiti and art, is permission.’ ~ Author Unknown