Evolution of Art, Take It to the Streets

The way I first discovered the world of street art was surprisingly, not on the street. It was when I walked into a bookstore one day and saw a book entitled “Icepick: Icelandic Street Art”. The front cover was full of strange, abstracted, but strangely realistic pieces of “street art” so I judged this book by its cover and purchased it. For the next several days I became totally obsessed with every aspect of the book and began to research this secretive form of art. I even began trying to recreate some of the pieces I saw or work off the photos to create some designs of my own. It was the most inspiring thing I have ever come across.

Then just the other day I was at Blockbuster renting a movie and I saw a film called “Exit Through the Gift Shop.” It is a documentary about street art and includes interviews with the most famous street artists alive. So of course, I excitedly checked out this movie and watched a man who knew nothing about street art, create his very own pieces and sell a million dollars’ worth of art in only a few months. This is when I realized how big this type of art is getting. Banksy, the most well-known and celebrated artist, had celebrities like Jude Law, Angelina Jolie, and many others show up to his first gallery in the United States. One of his exhibits included a full grown, painted elephant. Art is evolving. Banksy is transforming art by using many different forms, painting elephants, and basically decorating our world. As with any kind of art, street art has many different forms. This can include: stencil graffiti, sticker art, wheat pasting, street poster art, street installations, video projection, and many others.

The question is: Is this vandalism and should it stay illegal in the U.S.?

I say no. Street art is very difficult to control so why keep trying? If it is appropriate for all ages and not offensive material (which it generally is not), it is not hurting anyone. There are a lot of people like me who would love to see street art driving to work or just walking down the street. I strongly believe in freedom of expression and I really think if people just knew more about this topic, they might feel the way I do about it. If it cannot be legal, I think it should at least be tolerated in more places.

However, people who are against street art may not understand the difference between the terms “graffiti” and “tagging” in comparison to “street art”. “Tagging” refers to writing a name on a building and “graffiti” tends to be more offensive and gang related. Street art however, is something much more tasteful and appreciated by the masses. Street art is free art. You don’t have to pay to see it in a museum; it’s right on the street where you live. There will always be parents worried about what their children will be exposed to but street art is usually not used to portray offensive material. It is an abstract form of art. In some places, it is not even enough to have the property owner’s permission to display street art on their building but the artist also might also need to apply for a permit.

For more information on street art, the film “Exit Through the Gift Shop” films many well-known street artists on the streets and contains interviews as well. To see some of Banksy’s art, visit his website at http://www.banksy.co.uk/menu.html.

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Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

I believe that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes: large, small, round, square, triangular, trapezoidal, and all those in between. Beauty is an interpretation, so why should everyone’s be the same? Beauty is unique. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Thanks to today’s media, anyone can open a magazine and see a plethora of excessively thin, similar looking models. Women are especially subjected to this unrealistic expectation of how to dress and how to look.  Modern society seems to have an obsession with looking attractive and perfect. But what is perfect? Is perfection an extremely thin, blonde-haired, straight-teethed, big-eyed, smooth-skinned model with long legs and a flat stomach? What about the people who don’t have those genes and who don’t look like that?

Sometimes they are discriminated against. This discrimination starts as early as middle school when cliques form. Perhaps people working in media are unaware that what is shown on television and in magazines can have huge effects on the lives of teenage girls. Many young girls feel pressured to look and dress a certain way. This causes them to have extremely low self-esteem when they look in the mirror and don’t see a model. These girls do not think they are beautiful because of what they see every day in the media.

There are direct and indirect consequences of the media’s portrayal of beauty. The direct consequence of beauty in an advertisement is people are more likely to purchase that product because they want to achieve the same beauty. It is a natural human behavior to want to belong to a group. An indirect consequence of beauty in the media may result in unhealthy behavior. Teenage girls striving to look like unhealthy models may turn to eating disorders or even suicide as a result of their increasingly low self-esteem. I would dissolve this universal image of beauty, because we need to teach young girls what beauty really is. We need healthy sized people in the advertisements and normal, everyday people’s beauty to be shown for what it is, unique. It’s their unique sense of style and personality that makes them beautiful and different. We need to show young people what really matters: personality and intelligence. If this expectation of beauty created by the media didn’t exist, maybe people would see that and young girls wouldn’t be ashamed to wear glasses, or have braces!

This is why I really love what Dove is doing with their new campaign and showing real beautiful women in their ads. If only more companies and designers would follow in their foootsteps…

How Much Do You Really Know About the Food You’re Eating?

    The majority of the audience viewers after watching the film Food, Inc. were shocked and disgusted after learning more about how the food they consume everyday was processed. If you have not seen this documentary, I highly recommend it because it opened not only my eyes, but the nation’s eyes to the truth behind today’s food industry. Each year, contaminated food causes thousands of deaths. Little did we know, there are several corporations that control our nations food supply and the details of the treatment of the animals and the processing of our food have been kept quiet and not by mistake.

When profit is a higher priority than the consumer’s health, many issues become increasingly problematic. For instance, a large health problem is genetically engineered food. Currently forty-five percent of theUnited Statescorn is genetically engineered. What’s so dangerous about that is several studies have shown genetically engineered food increases people’s risk of cancer. On top of that, if genetic engineering was used in farming, pollution would increase and this would put many animal species at a risk of extinction. Animal rights activists greatly oppose genetically engineered food for that reason.

Also, diabetes and obesity rates are rapidly accelerating, along with the cases of E.coli, harmful bacteria, and other related illnesses. How can we slow it down? The Humane Society of the United States was terribly upset about the treatment of the animals before slaughter in farms all over the country but still remain extremely unsatisfied even after the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act was passed. Why is this? Birds are not included in the Act and more than nine billion chickens and turkeys are cruelly slaughtered each year.

This cruelty is most likely what caused the outbreak of swine flu. When pigs are crammed together in warehouses and forced to live in their own waste, diseases are bound to form and when the slaughter time comes, these diseases can easily spread to humans and create an epidemic. Farm animals that are confined in that way create three times as much waste as humans. This waste is used as manure, which pollutes the soil, water, and air. Not only do the farms pollute our environment but they waste natural resources as well. Half our nation’s grain is fed to the farm animals instead of the people suffering from hunger.

The biggest mistake people make, is thinking that we cannot do anything to change how our food system is currently. The official website for Food, Inc. has several petitions that anyone can sign and make a difference. In addition to that, we can purchase food that is healthier for us than a lot of the processed food mentioned above. We can change the way our food industry operates by changing where we buy our food from.  We can support our local farmers and not the corporations that run the major farms. You can change the world with every bite!