Graffiti: Its History and Metamorphosis

image courtesy zigazou76
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Taught by Sam Holleran

Sam Holleran is an urbanist, interdisciplinary artist, writer, and design educator. He works at the intersection of art, urban design, and civic engagement. He has researched design labs, flag culture, 19th century political cartoons, and medieval marginalia. 

Sam works as a Design Educator at the Center for Architecture and the 92nd Street Y in New York City, and previously worked at the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP). In 2015, he was the Participatory Design Fellow with the Design Trust for Public Space, working with the Queens Museum of Art and the NYC Parks Department to engage communities surrounding the Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

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Graffiti, an art form long associated with urban neglect and anti-establishment subcultures, has thoroughly entered the mainstream. With new exhibitions, books, and reality tv shows, graffiti has been financialized, packaged, and traded for high sums. While the aerosol bandits of the 80’s are no more, the tactics of early graffiti writing have been taken up by an unlikely set: advertisers and marketing professionals, who are increasingly looking for new spaces for their industry. With provocative moves picked up from the world of illegal art, advertisers are overhauling their industry, with top execs encouraging firms to “think more like vandals.”

This talk will examine the history of graffiti and its metamorphosis into ‘street art’ with a particular focus on self-promotion, and the interplay between the worlds of fine art, advertising, and vandalism. It will look at what’s at stake in the city’s changing visual spaces, and the changing face of one of New York’s most loved and loathed subcultures.

(please note, this is a classroom session!)

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