Hope Fedun ’19 always took notice of the graffiti in her brother’s Bronx neighborhood.
Hope, who intends to minor in art and major in communications at Salisbury University, looked deeper into the artistry, inspiration and motivation behind different graffiti works for her Capstone Experience.
“There’s so many different types of graffiti,” said Hope. “There’s ‘old school,’ which is what you think of traditionally. I like old school the most. I liked looking at different pieces – political, some for fun, some to deliver messages. I looked at why the artist chose to do what they did in that spot, if there’s any reason for it, or if it was ‘I’m bored, and that’s what I want to do.’
“It’s a pretty even mix. Even if it looks like they did it just to do it, it might mean something to them. With others, you can tell there is something more behind it. With many artists, you can read why they do it.”
Hope found that graffiti artists tend to stay local with their works. She visited all five boroughs in New York City and studied the different sorts of street art in each, where it was placed, and tried to figure out the ‘why’ behind it. Some messages were obvious, while other works required her to research the artist to discover the message behind their work.
Bansky’s Hammer Boy Mural, Broadway and West 79th Street, NY, NY Source: Hypebeast
“It can be pretty tough,” said Hope. “People don’t tag with their full name. It is illegal in most places. It was hard to figure out sometimes which artist was who. With some artists, it is not hard to figure out. There’s a lot you can read online. Bansky, for example, is a British graffiti artist that people emulate a lot.”
Some of Hope’s favorite graffiti came with clear explanations of the thinking behind it. The artist walked viewers through what all went into his work.
“He does light bulbs around the subway,” said Hope. “He included speech bubbles about how long it took to plan; buy all the paints; and create everything. It helps people realize [why he does it]. He’s doing it to brighten a subway station.”
Some cities commission colorful works of graffiti, but Hope finds beauty in all of it, even the unauthorized pieces.
“All of that, that’s a little more impressive,” said Hope. “It’s so quick and final. There’s no reason other than their own [inspiration]. They’re not getting paid. The reasons that drive them are personal.”
Hope recreated some of her favorite graffiti works onto poster board for her final presentation. Instead of spray paint, she used paint and markers.
“Spray paint is difficult on a smaller space,” said Hope.
The magnitude of several of the graffiti works also impressed her, and she marveled at the efforts behind the graffiti she studied.
“One thing I realized is how many people are around,” said Hope. “They’re not in subdued areas. Working that many hours and in hard angles and with so many people around, that’s definitely impressive.”
Hope has also experimented personally with graffiti art, though only in the safety of her home.
“My brother and I used to use it,” said Hope. “We used to take down old doors and spray paint them together. I think that’s where [my interest] came from. It’s such a hard medium to work with.”
During her years at Hun, Hope worked with a variety of other media while taking drawing classes, Computer Aided Design, ceramics, and advanced studio art honors. Her interests in art sparked the focus of her Capstone, and graffiti presented a unique form. Having done just a little work with spray paint gave her an appreciation for the artistry behind graffiti, and she came away with an understanding of the wealth of meaning and messages the medium offers.
“I chose something that I didn’t have a lot of experience with, but that I liked,” said Hope. “I liked taking three weeks to explore it and learn about it and talk in the presentation about what I did.”