Friday, August 7, 2009

Contested Spaces: UND's OKelly Hall and its Graffiti

Today I heard some disappointing news that Dean Martha Potvin recently discovered this wall commissioned by the Integrated Studies Program (ISP) of a UND graduate and well-known 80's graffiti artist from NYC. Her reaction is to paint over it because it apparently is not fitting to an academic institution. This is the 3rd or 4th of such pieces the artist (I cannot think of his name right now...I think its Rich something.) has done for the deparment. The painters are working down the hall and as I snapped a few photos of this street art, the one quipped, "We're gonna paint that."  This event only secures in my mind that graffiti is a potent form of protest and art.  This small hallway is now an ideological and aesthetically contested space. 

 The ISP department is a creative educational process that flourishes in the face of traditional academic isolation.  This creative work appropriately marks the space of this non-conventional program.  A simple text panel could be added to the hallway to help educate passersby on the gamut of what is currently considered art and highlight, rather than alienate, the creative work and inspirational story of an alumnus.