The Conflict of Art and Crime

By Keira Parolari

April 19, 2017

Graffiti earned its age old reputation of deviance and mischief before it became a trend. From spray paint on the side of a building to pencil markings on a student desk, the age old question still remains: is graffiti art or vandalism?

These acts of vandalism didn’t become trendy or noticed until 1967. Students played a major part in creating tags in alleyways and underneath bridges. However, they weren’t seen as a form of art until the 1980’s when they were showcased in galleries. Today, buyers will spend thousands of dollars on graffiti style art pieces. Regardless of the positive opinions of graffiti, it still remains an act of vandalism.

In the streets of downtown Knoxville, taggers take time to create beautiful images of soldiers along the walls.

Where Graffiti stands in the eyes of the law has shifted back and forth over the years. However, in Tennessee, the potential sentence can be a bit extreme for a minor act of vandalism. According to Criminal Property Damage, a person could spend up to one year in jail and pay a $2,500 fine fee for damage less than $500. If the damage had been more than $60,000 it could change to 8 to 30 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.
One of the most popular attractions of downtown Knoxville, Tennessee is the graffiti alley. The walls are covered from top to bottom with colorful pictures that are regularly covered up with new tags made by other artists.

Despite both sides of the argument, graffiti is, by definition, defiant and public exhibition and considered an act of vandalism no matter how beautiful and meaningful they could be.

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Just Say No to “Just Say No”

Getting Involved: Student Edition

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