CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo.,
Oct. 21, 2008 – Emily Booth, professor of art at Southeast Missouri State University, is providing a unique opportunity for students in her UI 100 course “Artist as Citizen: Communication through Public Art,” which focuses mainly on the study of murals and graffiti art.
Students recently began preparing the walls in the Serena Building stairwell for a graffiti art display that will be completed by Nov. 4 and will remain up for viewing for five days.
In their study of graffiti art, Booth’s class will host a local graffiti artist lecture and engage in focus discussions on topics of graffiti tradition from ancient Rome to the more current graffiti culture. During those discussions, issues of race, gender and socioeconomic circumstances will be addressed. The class will also host a member of the police force to give an alternate view of graffiti as art, that of graffiti as vandalism, trespass, destruction and defacement of property.
Booth said students were required to design or modify their own graffiti tag font and choose a word or phrase as a means of communication to the public before they began to “tag” the interior walls of the staircase in Serena Building.
“Painting in a hallway with strangers walking by, peering over your shoulder while you work on something that looks like traditional, illegal, subversive graffiti tagging is an entirely different experience than creating sections of a mural, working quietly and privately in a traditional studio setting,” Booth said. “Since the students’ major expository or persuasive paper and oral presentation will revolve around the theme of mural versus graffiti art, it is important that they be given every opportunity (intellectual, experiential, research-oriented) to sharpen their critical thinking skills while compiling relevant data. I will compose and mount a description of the project and its goals, hopefully that will create further discussion among the ‘public’ in the Serena Building. Other students not in the class who may be inspired to embellish with graffiti-inspired abandon will hopefully be deterred by this formal, written, wall-mounted description of the project. Although it may be antithetical to the spirit of graffiti, a formal presentation description will not only give viewers a point of entry and encourage dialogue, it will also lend an air of ‘exhibition’ to the display.”
Booth said the words chosen will be specific to each student and what they consider important to communicate in a public art forum.