Get Your Spray On

Photo by Claire Frausto/GUARDIAN
Photo by Claire Frausto/GUARDIAN

On Monday, May 19, University Centers offered part two of their on-campus graffiti art event Graffiti Hill in an overall effort to give students an eventually permanent space for graffiti art.

Photo by Claire Frausto/GUARDIAN
Photo by Claire Frausto/GUARDIAN

 It was commutative respect and overwhelming student response, Esther Kim and Armando Abundis told the UCSD Guardian, that motivated University Centers to transcend its original proposal of holding a one-time event last quarter into a plan to hold Graffiti Hill on a quarterly basis.

“What I noticed [about the first Graffiti hill event] that I really appreciated was that no one abused it,” Kim, a University Centers Marketing representative, said. “There was no profanity on there or anything offensive. It was just people having fun, drawing whatever they wanted to draw […] I think it was awesome to see that people were really respectful of each other.”

Last week, students were offered another shot at spray paint and sharpie conception, only this time around, it was not limited to one day only. The structures for this quarter’s event were left up for four additional days without supervision, allowing artists to maintain the thrill of anonymous artwork suddenly springing up when eyes are turned away, as figures like Banksy have ingrained into the nature of graffiti.

“The nature of [graffiti] is kind of in secret at night; you get to do whatever you want—spontaneous,” Kim said. “I think it will be cool to watch [the artwork] transform as well.”

In addition to opening its doors to all artists, University Centers also featured four student artists who had their own spaces to themselves during this quarter’s event. Two of the artists, who originally reached out to University Centers about this event through a link on their Facebook page last quarter, represented Marshall College and Muir College as they each created a mural illustrating the principles that their own colleges live by.

Kim calls the timing of Graffiti Hill with the student movement to bring back Graffiti Hall “uncanny.” She and Abundis, senior graphic designer at University Centers, maintains that the two were not connected and that the original conception of Graffiti Hill simply arose at the same time as Graffiti Hall’s closure.

“It just so happened that the whole controversy with Graffiti Hall happened at the same time that we were coming up with this concept,” Abundis said. “Once Graffiti Hall was painted over and some of the student body was upset, there was an effort by the administration [and] our department to create that sort of space.”

Many students and alumni continue to express their dissatisfaction with the university’s decision to paint over Graffiti Hall and forbid any more graffiti art on its walls. In a letter to the editor on May 23, Scott Weisman, a 1990 Muir College graduate, noted the administration’s change in attitude toward Graffiti Hall and voiced his disappointment in regard to its shutdown.

“[Many interviews in the past with] administration officials and police […] document a tolerance and even affection for the wall-writing and writers, completely at odds with the attitude displayed today,” Weisman said. “It is sad to see this harmless activity, thought of fondly by so many, tolerated by the administration for so long, so vociferously quashed.”

The end goal is now a permanent graffiti exhibition similar to Graffiti Hall somewhere on campus, Kim explained. But until that can be established, University Centers is determined to provide an alternative outlet for student street artists.

All in all, Abundis maintains that University Centers hopes to show students that, despite the extinction of Graffiti Hall, UCSD still respects graffiti as a valuable form of art.

“We will not be editing anyone’s work [in Graffiti Hill events],” he said. “We will not be covering or censoring [the artwork]. We are University employees guided by the Principles of Community, so if there’s anything out there, any type of artwork regardless of what it is, […] everyone’s free to do what they want.”

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