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Graffiti by Anonymous

artwork by AI


Graffiti—a word that brings to mind hoodlums, delinquents, punks, and criminals—yet it can be full of color, character, and beauty. It is not the work of criminals, but the work of artists. It is an art that is timeless, though often swept away. It is beaten, broken, and blasted away by time and nature, or those who see it as a nuisance.

I walked down the rocky tracks towards the beginning of the bridge that had been taken over by time. It was tall, standing solid, made of huge cuts of rock that supported the weight of giants that pass over every fifteen minutes or so. As I got closer, I started to examine every detail of my surroundings. I listened to the rustling of the leaves, the rocks clattering beneath my feet, and the creek that flows over the sand and countless boulders that have been broken down for centuries. I also heard a faint sound in the distance, a small rumble like lightning far off in the sky. I turned to my right and saw the lights of a train barreling towards me. Quickly I jumped to the side under the overgrown bridge and waited as the noise engulfed everything around me. As I stood watching this ginormous feat of human engineering flash past me, I could not help but notice sparks of color, large flowing shapes, and designs that seemed to dance on the train’s outer edges. This behemoth was emblazoned by beautiful paintings—artwork—true masterpieces.

A few months ago, I went to Chicago for a concert. While I was there, I went to a high-end shopping center. Inside there was a place where a man was selling art he had created. I have been to art museums like the Figgie and other places, but for some reason, this art seemed different. It spoke to me. There was nothing particularly special about what this man had created, but the way the paintings and sculptures made me think, really stuck with me. He was brave for being an artist in our world today. Artists aren’t paid well. The average wage of an artist is just $19.64 an hour, yet here he was, and I could see in his paintings there was a lot of pain in the beauty. He somehow captured that perfectly. Every brushstroke was purposeful, the subjects chosen carefully, each medium expressing a different inner part of his mind. It changed my perspective on what art is.

As the train adorned with masterworks from these vandals sped past, I thought back to that time in Chicago. What makes the art I saw in Chicago any more beautiful, authentic, or real than what is plastered over the trains that run across all of America? These artists risk damaging their reputations, losing opportunities, or worse, getting arrested. They are not compensated for their work; no one will recognize them. They do it solely for the love of their craft.

As this realization rushed over me like a train over the tracks, I began to wonder why our society views something like this as wrong. Sure, there are arguments for property damage, wasting time and money, etc., but this doesn’t harm anyone. The truth is, there are thousands of things in our society that are viewed negatively, rushing through the outer reaches of our little worlds, screaming at us, bursting out of their canvas, just waiting for us to admire their beauty, or hear what they have to say. Most choose to ignore these cries and go about their day, safe from the pain this beauty desperately tries to convey. Most will never know what is true. Art is an expression of the truth. In the end, your truth is up to you.

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