Legal Expression

This year, John Ciarrone, 22 is facing more than 100 charges for spray painting various areas within the city.  He began tagging at age 15 after friends got him into it and said, although he knows it is wrong, it was a good outlet.
“It was an outlet for my negative energy,” said Ciarrone. “I didn’t pick up skateboarding. I didn’t pick up hockey. I picked this up instead.” Contrary to the widespread belief that graffiti is associated with gangs, Ciarrone said he wasn’t trying to harm anyone and suggested that there should be more legal graffiti walls.

“Edmonton currently has one designated legal graffiti site, where the LRT emerges from the underground between Churchill Station and Stadium. The Edmonton Arts Council is working together with the City of Edmonton’s Capital Clean Up program in developing future legal graffiti zones.”

In the Design Program of Studies there are a variety of objectives that students must meet over the span of the course.  Not only will they demonstrate fundamental skills such as: the ability to communicate, think and solve problems but that they would also practice personal management skills such as: positive attitude and behaviours, responsibility and adaptability.  With this information, how can teachers entice students, who are against the concept of authority and punishment, in on the idea of concepts such as “responsibility” when taggers want to display works of “art” for the public to see?

How can the students minimize the barriers that society places on individuals who want to express their thoughts and energy through art and maximize the opportunities that are offered in the community or around the world?  In Brooklyn New York there are opportunities with the Sketchbook Project to have a personal sketchbook viewed online and in the physical world…literally touring the world.

With this project, artists are given a specific dimensions to work in.   This project is a great means for students within the class to work on a group project and submit sketches and know that their work will be seen by others in various parts of the world.

Sherry Turkle discusses the ideas of the digital world and the loss of attachment that can occur with work that is produced through a computer.  Students will have a greater sense of connection with their art work as they work with the physical mediums. The project does offer the gratification of the global viewing of work; an appealing trait that online portfolios offer such as Deviant Art.

The fundamental concept of graffiti is the ability to send a message without being subjected to censorship.  With the legal graffiti zones in Edmonton, artists are voicing ideas to a limited audience who are riding the train on the north side.  What about the downtown core?  The white collar suites that walk across jasper daily? Has the injustice and frustration that was once embedded in a tag disappearing?  Is the desired message more of “fame” escalating prior the twitter days?  The gratification and publicity that instant photos and publishing work online may be just as addicting as the simple means of expression.  Is it possible to capture the element of excitement and the thrill that vandalism brings in a context that is legal?

Will the physical “real world” have a turn around appeal?  Will the real world inevitably offer the sense of power that the digital world use to possess?  Is this even possible?


Posted in Design Studies, Global Art, Graffiti, Pedagogy Theory.