Clad in steel-toed snow boots, I traversed the ice-coated snow and slush on the rail trail leading to Great Cohas Brook in Manchester feeling like a giant; with each step, the slick surface of the mess of precipitation crystalized in the extreme cold collapsed bearing the full weight of my stride. Mind you, the pathway on which I was walking is not simply a path through the woods — the sound of screaming wheels ricocheted off the rocks and trees that peppered the adjacent highway.
As I was walking, I shifted my eyes leftward to see a colorful collage of spray painted symbols on a boulder, oddly enough. The symbols were mashed and layered one on top of the other in what seemed to me a bizarre language long since past.
In contrast to the mainstream opinion of graffiti — that’s what it was, even if it was nature that served as the canvas instead of property — graffiti in of itself is art, but not the art like you know; this is art with meanings more than one.
I am aware that graffiti often tends to be malicious, vulgar, and otherwise inappropriate at face value and generally has no place in civilized society — I am not advocating for, nor am I promoting in favor of the defacement of nature or property — but if one reads between the nonexistent lines, as it were, one may be able to see a glimpse of raw, unfiltered beauty.
It can be seen in the way graffiti is created. Due to the anonymity of graffiti, people not directly involved in the creation thereof will never know the answer to such questions as:
- What was the person feeling at the precise moment when they decided to add a slight curve to an otherwise straight line?
- What particular grouping of shapes was used to create the image as a whole?
- Why did the person choose to draw in that direction instead of the other?
- Why was a particular location used? Why that spot? What made it “the one?”
The list can go on in a complex myriad of related queries, but I think the main idea of what I’m saying has been made abundantly clear.
Second generation Romantic poet, John Keats once famously said in his poem, “Ode to a Grecian Urn,” “Beauty is truth, truth beauty.” Even though Keats was a poet, the concept of graffiti and the composition of art is similar.
Let me be clear, those that deface and otherwise destroy property, or in my case, nature, should be caught and punished — not arguing they shouldn’t — but even the act of destroying something, expressing what’s true to oneself in a very specific moment is beautiful, too.