Tag Archives: graffiti

Restroom research: Study examines bathroom graffiti by men, women

A new article published in Gender, Place & Culture examines how men and women express themselves in the seemingly private and anonymous spaces of public bathrooms.

Texts or drawings in the bathroom stalls, while created in a private space and presumably during a very private moment, are meant to be public — transmitting ideas, images and even responses.

Using data collected in 10 university bathroom stalls, the study examines differences in communication patterns in women’s and men’s bathroom stalls through an analysis of graffiti content and style.

The research indicated that that while communication patterns tend to be supportive and relationship-focused in women’s bathrooms, the graffiti in men’s bathroom walls are replete with sexual content and insults.

In addition, an analysis of the response-and-reply chains suggests that, in the bathroom stalls, hierarchies of power are established and reinforced even in anonymous, unmoderated spaces, and even when no humans are physically present.

The first major study of bathroom graffiti was produced by Alfred Kinsey in the 1950s, which found that many wall inscriptions were highly sexual, but sexuality was defined quite differently among men and women. Men’s bathroom graffiti centered on sexual acts and sexual organs, women’s graffiti referred to love and relationships in non-erotic terms.

Further studies in the 1970s and 1980s suggested that women’s graffiti was becoming more sexual and political.

In the latest study, 60 years on from Kinsey’s work, Pamela Leong, an assistant professor of Sociology at Salem State University, monitored graffiti in 10 single sex bathrooms.  Leong found that women were more prolific, accounting for 70 percent of graffiti, and male graffiti was what she characterized as overtly sexual, crude, competitive and aggressive.

She characterized female graffiti as less sexually explicit — messages were more relationship oriented, confided private thoughts and feelings, as well as messages of support to fellow writers. She also said women often referred to bowel movements, indicating a need to discuss such things privately for fear of being judged “dirty” or “unfeminine,” a contrast to social acceptance of male lavatorial behavior.

Museum working to preserve plywood art in Ferguson

The Missouri History Museum and the Regional Art Commission are working to preserve art that has been added to plywood meant to protect storefronts or cover damage from protesting in Ferguson and St. Louis.

The wood has been enhanced with drawings, bright colors and positive sayings, such as “listen with love” and “heal the world,” since a grand jury last month declined to indict white Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed, black 18-year-old.

Hundreds of artists have banded together to highlight the community’s strength and provide a positive outlet that will allow people to move past the images of businesses being looted and burned, said Tom Halaska, owner of the Art Bar on Cherokee Street and an organizer with Paint for Peace STL. The effort has received tremendous support from business owners and residents, he said.

About 100 board-covered businesses have been decorated, and participants plan to continue their artistic mission, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

The museum hopes to eventually collect some of the art for research or possibly for an exhibit, according to Chris Gordon, director of library and collections.

But not everyone supports the preservation effort, and opposition has been felt by business owners and protesters alike.

“It’s not the history you’d want to remember,” said Varun Madaksira, owner of the Original Red’s BBQ in Ferguson, which was set on fire after the grand jury announcement.

Tony Rice of Ferguson has been protesting since Brown was killed on Aug. 9. He believes the plywood art masks residents’ sadness.

“It’s an attempt to whitewash the pain the community has suffered,” Rice said.

Supporters of the effort say art can help turn a negative situation into a positive one. Boarded-up buildings can lead people to believe an area is unsafe, said Rachel Witt, executive director of the South Grand Community Improvement District.

“When you put paint on, it really changes the perspective,” she said.

Bansky ends monthlong residency in New York City

The secretive street artist Banksy ended his self-announced monthlong residency in New York City with a final piece of graffiti, a $615,000 painting donated to charity and a debate: Is he a jerk or a genius?

Banksy, who created a new picture, video or prank every day of October somewhere in the city, spent his last day like thousands of graffiti artists before him: He tagged a building near a highway with his name in giant bubble letters. The twist was that these letters were actual bubbles: balloon-like inflatables stuck to a wall near the Long Island Expressway in Queens.

As if to underscore his dual identity as both a street punk and an art-world darling, he also donated a painting that was auctioned off for $615,000. The original painting first sold for $50 at a Manhattan thrift shop that benefits Housing Works, an organization that fights homelessness and AIDS. Banksy added a Nazi soldier to the landscape scene and Housing Works sold it in an online auction.

Throughout his 31 days in NYC, Banksy put pictures of his work on BanksyNY.com, with clues as to locations but nothing precise. That spawned a treasure hunt by fans who tracked the works down, shared locations via social media, then swarmed to see them.

But by the time Banksy was done, New Yorkers were divided in their opinions. Some tweeted “Go home, Banksy!” Others declared their admiration.

The turning point for many was an essay he wrote criticizing the building replacing the World Trade Center. Banksy called the new design “vanilla … something they would build in Canada,” and added, “It so clearly proclaims the terrorists won.” He offered the essay to The New York Times. The paper wouldn’t print it, so he posted it on his website.

“The terrorists won” comment upset many New Yorkers, including Brian Major, 51, of Brooklyn. “Enough!” Major said. “Who is this guy? Everybody’s got a right to an opinion but what gives him any kind of credibility in New York? Shut up, Banksy! Go home!”

A lifelong New Yorker, Major says he understands graffiti culture, and he also appreciates fine art. But he doesn’t think Banksy’s art is all that good — “though I’ll give him credit, he’s a good marketer.”

But Sean Lynch, 25, of Staten Island, thinks Banksy is “one of the more captivating artists of our generation.” Lynch said it was magical visiting Banksy sites around the city and hearing conversations about art that the works inspired, with “people of all different walks and cultures sharing opinions, sharing stories. … The walls started to talk to them, in a way.”

Banksy, who refuses to reveal his full identity, began his career spray-painting buildings in Bristol, England. In New York, many of his images were silhouetted figures or spray-painted messages. The art ranged from a stencil of a dog lifting his leg on a hydrant to a video of a “slaughterhouse delivery truck” filled with stuffed animals. Some works were defaced by other graffiti artists. But interest grew with each piece, and at least one Banksy street work was covered with Plexiglas to preserve it. He also sold some pieces, unadvertised, for $60 on the street.

Radhika Subramaniam, a professor at Parsons The New School for Design in Manhattan, says Banksy is part of a long tradition of graffiti artists like Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat whose work ultimately earned recognition from the art establishment. But he also fits into a contemporary trend of opening up public spaces to conversations about who owns them and what can happen there – especially in today’s cleaned-up New York, where Mayor Michael Bloomberg, when asked about Banksy, called graffiti “a sign of decay and loss of control.”

OK, but is Banksy any good? “There’s plenty of wit in what he does, as well as some thoroughly ordinary, sometimes pleasant, sometimes banal, but sometimes sweet things,” Subramaniam said. But he’s also “not a naïf in the art world. After all, who would care if you or I were to set up a blog and enact a residency like this? It’s only because he’s able to marshal this kind of PR and marketing that … catapults his residency to another level and elicits these polarized points of view.”

In a final gesture that was simultaneously serious and self-mocking, audio commentary posted Thursday on Banksy’s website called his final piece- his name in bubble letters by the road — “an homage … to the most prevalent form of graffiti in the city that invented it for the modern era. Or it’s another Banksy piece that’s full of hot air.”

But three men apparently thought it was worth something. Newspaper photos show one of them on a long ladder, trying to reach the installation.

All three were arrested and charged with criminal trespass. One was additionally charged with criminal mischief. Police are seen in one photo cramming the bubble letters inside a van.

Artist pleads no contest in Chick-fil-A protest

An artist who painted a graffiti protest on a Chick-fil-A restaurant has pleaded no contest and been sentenced to three years’ probation.

Manuel Castro Jr., a West Hollywood artist, entered the plea last last week to accusations that he painted a picture of a cow and the words: “Tastes Like Hate” protesting the Chick-fil-A president’s comments against same-sex marriage.

City News Service reported that Castro pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor vandalism charge and was sentenced to three years’ probation, 200 hours of community service and $800 in fines and fees. He was ordered to stay away from Chick-fil-A establishments for the term of his probation.

He also was barred from possessing any paint, paintbrushes, spray paint, aerosol cans or vandalism tools outside his home. A restitution hearing was set for Jan. 9.

Gay artist arrested for Chick-fil-A graffiti

A gay artist who allegedly painted “Tastes like hate” on the side of a Chick-fil-A restaurant in Torrance, Calif., was arrested on Aug. 8.

The Los Angeles Times reports that police are looking for a second person said to be involved in the vandalism.

The artist, Manuel Castro, 30, was arrested on suspicion of vandalism in West Hollywood, said Torrance police Sgt. Steve Jenkinson.

The graffiti — accompanied by a representation of a cow holding a paint brush — went up while gay rights advocates protested nationwide against company president Dan Cathy’s public denunciation of same-sex marriage and Chick-fil-A’s donations to anti-gay causes.

The graffiti was painted on Aug. 3, at about 6:40 a.m., hours before demonstrators were to arrive for a kiss-in protest.

Castro told the Huffington Post he painted “Tastes like hate” on the exterior wall of the restaurant: “Everybody is entitled to free speech, but it seems like for the gay tribe, this is more of an issue of equal rights — human rights,. I’m against what these people stand for, what this company stands for. They’re trying to take away what little rights we already have.”

Police learned of Castro’s comments but also independently identified him as a suspect, Jenkinson said, adding in a news release that “numerous items of evidence” were discovered at the scene.

Students protest hate incidents at UW-Platteville

More than 200 UW-Platteville students walked out of class and marched on campus during finals week to protest 25 reported incidents of racially motivated hate crimes on campus this semester, according to Channel3000.com.

Those incidents include graffiti, threats and vandalism.

“I’m ashamed. Flat out, I’m just ashamed. I think people who tend to want to brush the events under the rugs aren’t really walking the footsteps of students of color on this campus,” graduate student Kate Bucko was quoted as saying.

“We have to stand up. We have to tell people how serious this is,” Quincy Buffkin told the crowd.

Students told Channel3000.com that the march was a call to start a conversation about the issue. Some said the conversation should have begun long ago.

UW-Platteville Chancellor Dennis Shields told students the real problem was that no one had come forward with information on who is responsible for these acts.

Graduate students organized the rally via Facebook and word of mouth. It event comes a week after university faculty and staff held a similar march to bring awareness racist acts.

UW-Whitewater has also been plagued with a series of hate-motivated incidents this semester, including two attacks based on perceived sexual orientation.