I spray graffiti and vandalize the community property. Luckily, you have the free will choice to observe my graffiti or not. It is however, applied for graffiti’s purpose. I wasn’t really clear on the difference between graffiti and artwork, but I was shown that contrast recently. Noticing a distinction is the first step to change.
Another travel show was playing on my kitchen TV, while a made a mid-morning breakfast this week. I’m sure my antennae was tuned into the (crystal clear) KCPT channel Create. Someone was visiting a European country, they were diving deep into the local culture. At this point in the show, they were highlighting a local street artist.
The expansive murals decorated bland brick walls. The splashes of muted colors enhanced the public spaces. The figures of beautifully modern women, men and children acted out simple dramas and human moment stories in stylized brush strokes. The artist was using her skills to relate the real and raw emotions of human life. Her style is so compelling and fresh, you felt the essence of each character and instantly understood their sadness, their bliss or their peaceful contentment.
In the interview process, the artist talked about how she preferred to paint and enhance the forgotten and dilapidated structures in a broken downtown area. When not working on large scales in public areas, she chose found objects and rusty old junk, to paint with her masterful civilian stories. She spent time explaining her disdain for choosing a new blank white canvas, as her medium. She wanted to take something that was perceived as trash, and turn it into treasure. Her artwork wanted to live in surprising places. It was finding it’s way onto oxidized old electrical panels or the inside of a drawer of an old desk. Her studio and gallery didn’t have easels or rectangles of painted sketches hung neatly on the wall.
The show host asked her about graffiti. They questioned her ‘street art’, in comparison with the local common graffiti art. She showed how, her canvas was a brick wall, just like the taggers and vandals. She showed how they both drew things in public places for the random passerby to see and experience. She showed how each artist had a unique style. She also showed exactly why hers was quite different.
Graffiti in the sense she was explaining is a simple thing. Although colorful and flashy, the design is one basic thing. It is a signature. She was comparing how her artwork may have been signed somewhere, but the content itself was a story. The pictures she creates are compelling and reflective. They are snippets of our human condition brushed artistically with her specifically compassionate and poignant point of view. A can of spray in the hands of a graffiti artist, merely writes their own name.
The video showed several versions of true graffiti. I had never looked at it that way before. Their spray-painted words had fluid spirit, distinct technique and panache. The signatures were brashly tagged in conspicuous spots. They emblazoned their own mark on the community and no one else could claim otherwise. Their name says it all!
So what is this blog? What is this weekly thing I sit down and bang out? Early and ahead of my day, or at the very tail end, spent and exhausted, just to slam something up on the screen? Using poor English and making up my own rules as I go. Sometimes making up words too.
For the most part, it’s Graffiti, through and through. I just want to tag the internet with my own signature. I want to see that picture of just my face, on my own facebook wall, attached to a story that I wrote about me. Ha! So sadly true. Sure, I’ve developed some style. I have constructed and completed tales of intricate nature, about the status of my own inner thoughts. I have made some kind of signature here, in almost 5 full years of writing.
True artwork is more than that. True artwork is a channel. The creator and greater consciousness than we can truly fathom, can work through an artist, the hands and fingers tell God’s story, not our own. A few tiny moments in this blogging journey have felt that way to me. The words just appear up on this endlessly expanding digital journal. I have noticed afterward, the complete blankness of my own mind and the fluid rush of energy, that actually did all the typing, almost without any of my intervention.
I am glad this artist pointed out the contrast. I am happy that she spoke a truth. Sometimes we forget to see the difference when God is behind our work, and when it is solely designed to enhance our own experience of the ego. We want that recognition for ourselves. We want to hear how great we are. We want our signature to be the focus, not God’s divine handiwork. We want to be noticed… At least I do.
So again this week, I tagg and spray. I swish and swoosh all over this screen and you get to read another signature story of me, that I have created to tell about me. Maybe though, someday, I can graduate and switch focus. Maybe the words will swing in their aim. Maybe they will open up and expand, being that channel and wide open high speed cable for transcendent truth… authentic art itself.
Until then, bear with me. I am still learning, still growing and practicing, still trying once again to let God know that I am here, and willing, if it be God’s will that I am used for God’s purposes…
With Sincere Love,