I didn’t used to be a fan of graffiti. I thought it was dirty and broke the rules. The first memory I have of graffiti is looking at a picture of a waterfall and all of the rocks were covered with graffiti. I dismissed it and said that it was ugly, that the graffiti took away from the natural beauty. Then someone (who was doing it to get a rise out of me) said or, the graffiti makes the waterfall more beautiful. And though he was being an ass, it gave me pause; what I think is beautiful other people might find ugly or vice versa. What I think is dirty is art to someone else. I don’t think that I really began to appreciate graffiti until eight years later when I studied abroad in Argentina. Graffiti in Argentina (not always) makes a statement or is artistic. Not unintelligible scribbles, that mark territory or some such nonsense, like we often see (again…not always).
I started noticing the graffiti and other assorted acts of “vandalism” in New Orleans. Then I realized that I have a whole bunch of really great pictures of things written on various surfaces around New Orleans. So this is my tribute to the hilarious, sad, awe-inspiring and the huh? that is written, drawn, scrawled, painted, whatever around New Orleans.
I have so many pictures that I decided to break it down by section and/or topic. First I will start off with some hurricane and disaster related writings.
“Looters will be shot–Katrina Rule”
I interviewed various people about the “Katrina experience” for a Master’s project. One guy who stayed for the storm and lived in the Bywater told me that he knew he had to leave the City, not because of the storm, or flooding- these didn’t damage his area much- but because his neighbors were starting to arm themselves and sit out on their front porches to protect their property.
The ‘X’ represents all that was Katrina: death, damage, lasting effects and volunteers. The top signifies the date the house was searched; the left the group that searched it; the bottom the number of dead; the right the number of structural hazards. The arrow (not always used) signals that there was a gas leak around the corner.
One Lower 9th Ward man’s call for love.
I don’t know how long this table has been out here and I don’t know if this spot was where this man’s house used to stand. But I do know that this is a sentiment that is felt through New Orleans still. We seem to be a city that is wrapped up in nice paper, a sweet little bow and sold to consumers, who never really see pain in the truth.
“Piss off Isaac”
Succinct and to the point, this sign was posted after the last not worthy hurricane, Isaac. I was driving around (when I shouldn’t have been…) and found this little gem…along with this next one.
“NOT A ZOMBIE ENTRANCE”
Again, very clear statement: we don’t want you zombies.
From the ashes and oil we will rise
I feel like this is pretty clear: New Orleans has survived Katrina and the BP Oil Spill but we rise above it.
“Rise & Preserve”
It’s what we do.
The point? Graffiti is often times just another way to publicly chronicle events in our lives.