Message Received.

When I first started studying art I was taught that paintings have specific meanings. Often this “meaning”, whatever it was, would be the artist’s intent, or at least what critics or historians thought the artist’s intent was. This whole idea of “meaning” was treated as though it was something specific and objectively knowable and fixed, and it doesn’t take much thought to realize that’s pretty goofy. What a work of art “means” is in the eye of the beholder even if, when talking about art, it’s generally convenient to have some idea most of us can agree on. Or not. I’m not really sure what specific meaning I’m trying to get across here and if you think, hey, he’s making kind of a meta-comment on the nature of meaning and how flexible it is I’m just going to say, yeah, let’s all agree that I really am that smart.

Anyway that brings me to this:

I’m just amazed by how this artist has turned a postal delivery label into a work of art, into something that sends out their message. Every artist, whether they think about it or not, works within certain limitations: limitations of time, materials, space. For graffiti this is usually true in spades. Artists who tag buildings or spots on the street have to work fast, although they often have large spaces to work with. Here the work is confined to a small space, so small you might miss it, but it’s so vivid and so well done. That’s probably in part because the artist wasn’t as limited by time—whoever made this didn’t have to worry about getting busted by the cops.

Here’s another one that may be by the same artist.

I liked these so much I was tempted to pull them off and take them home with me but then I realized that whatever the message is it was meant for everyone. If I removed these pieces I’d change and limit the meaning, and I don’t think that was the artist’s intent.

11 Comments

  1. michelle combs

    Oh, I love this so much. I am a huge fan of graffiti.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I’m so glad you like it. I may not take the graffiti home with me but at least I can share it.

      Reply
  2. Allison

    Back in the day, I would light finger xeroxed signs posted on boards at college. I stole one for a women’s recovery group because it read, “Allison, I know this world is killing you.” – and at the time, I was pretty depressed, so I felt it was a message to me.

    Another one I took was one that they had wallpapered the school with – it was a parody taking a stab at the LGB Student Group – it was for the Asexual Student Society – (The ASS). It pictured clip art of a vintage postman, and read, “The only thing I worry about getting every day is the mail! Grab hold of the ASS!”

    I should probably feel bad, but I don’t.

    The other one that made an annual appearance around campus was a sign that went up on the first really cold day in fall – it read: “Wear Jeans Today If You’re Gay!” – that was an LGBSU work of art. They had another one that said “Come out, come out wherever you are!”

    Whoever did their fliers had it going on.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Those really are some brilliant fliers. I’d feel kind of guilty taking even one in case it meant one less person getting the message but at least fliers are mass-produced so they’re really meant to be taken.

      Reply
  3. Ann Koplow

    I’m just amazed how you turn every blog post into a work of art, Chris.

    Reply
    1. Ann Koplow

      Message received?

      Reply
    2. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      When I read your blog and your comments it always amazes me how art, as a form of communication, is a collective process, and I appreciate your voice as part of that process. Message definitely received.

      Reply
  4. Red

    I agree. Artistic meaning is subjective. Artists may disagree though!

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Disagreement is the source of art too. If we all said the same thing there’d be no reason for art. At least that’s my opinion.

      Reply
  5. The Orangutan Librarian

    Love this post so much! I’ve always been a fan of graffiti art 😀

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Wonderful! Ever since I started collecting graffiti three or so years ago it’s been really nice to find how many other people are fans as well.

      Reply

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