Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Graffiti Wall

The graffiti wall in the courtyard of Harder Hall is a place for a little freedom of expression. To discourage graffiti on public property a section of the wall has been designated for this exact purpose. It allows students to indulge in their graffiti love in a less destructive way. This wall has been around for quite some time and every so often it gets painted over. However until this clean slate is created, layers upon layers of art build up. A very interesting mixture of styles, colors, and subjects combine to create a unique collage. While it is a form of self expression it also creates a venue for students to display their work. It is an ever changing wall, constantly being covered and restructured into something new. While some students take it more seriously than others, it creates an interesting mash of abstract patterns, recognizable objects, and text.

Right now there are many remnants of individuals work. The background is covered with pinks and blues creating a patterned tube structure. The tube is divided up into small sections each one with its own unique pattern. At the top are the initials “JB,”” JW”, “OL” and the year ’09, we can assume that these are the initials of the artist or perhaps somehow related to the piece. Parallel lines serve to divide up the space up even further. Some parts of it seem to be spray painted while others are clearly hand-painted. While some parts are very angular, others are much more organic and freeform. One part that particularly interests me is the figure that occupies the bottom portion of the wall. She doesn’t have much detail, and is made up of solid shapes. We can tell it’s a girl because she has a yellow dress on and a bow in her hair. However all of her features are completely obliterated. The wall seems to be dripping from her face and hair into the rest of her body. The red of her hair seems to give the feeling of blood running down her white skin. Her lack of identity gives her a rather disturbing presence as well. She is outlined in blue and it is difficult to tell whether this was done by the original artist or added later by someone else. It does serve to separate her from the background, giving definition to her arms and hands. A portion of her bottom half is recently covered up by a gold square. This square has a match about two feet away from it which is identical in form. An interesting green and red pattern resides in the space next to the figure. It is an organic form radiating from the center to form a pattern similar to a mandala. Harsh black lines divide the colors and are also used to create dots within the shapes.

Another fascinating notion regarding the wall is the anonymity of it. Many times you never see the artist in action and it seems as though a new piece has just magically appeared. There is no title card or description of the artist’s intentions. This relates back to a long standing debate in the art world of the individuals v. the collective. It is essentially a collective work of art that has contributions from many different sources. However this collaboration is not organized in any specific manner. It is up to the individual to take the wall in a new direction even though it will be viewed as a whole. A certain amount of discrimination takes place in the choices of what to cover up with one’s own work. This community work adds individuality to Alfred’s campus that cannot be seen anywhere else.


  1. The initials stand for Jason Blanford, Justin Windman, and Owen Linders, don't hold me to the spellings. They graduated last year and painted the entire wall as a part of their senior show. Also you should contact Claire Bresette because I think she organized the petition to have the wall reserved for graffiti...it was very controversial considering some of our staff are openly against the use of spray paint.

  2. It would be interesting to find out more about the person who made it thier mission to preserve the wall for graffiti. Was graffiti a big problem around campus before then?