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‘Tagged’ exhibition to explore modern graffiti

November 6, 2012

TAGGED: Exploring Modern GraffitiNo one wants to wake up with profanity spray-painted across their garage door, but collectors would pay millions of dollars to own a chunk of wall that was defaced by London street artist Banksy.

From Wednesday, Nov. 7, through Saturday, Nov. 17, graduate students enrolled in NIU’s award-winning Museum Studies program will present their fall 2012 exhibition “Tagged: Exploring Modern Graffiti.”

The exhibition investigates the pervasiveness of graffiti in contemporary society, and considers both its artistic merit and transgressive nature.

The exhibition is located in Gallery 214, on the second floor of the Visual Arts Building on the east end of the NIU campus. It is free and open to the public, and the exhibition is accessible to all.

Hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and noon to 4 p.m. Saturday. The gallery’s curators will host a reception inside the exhibition from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15.

Graffiti defaces public and private property, but its influence can be seen in advertising, merchandising, and in some of the world’s most prestigious art galleries.

Stenciled moss graffiti by “green graffiti” artist Edina Tokodi. Image courtesy of Edina Tokodi.

Stenciled moss graffiti by “green graffiti” artist Edina Tokodi. Image courtesy of Edina Tokodi.

Within the last decade, a new wave of “green graffiti” utilizing yarn, moss, even dirt removal, has further complicated graffiti’s classification as vandalism and challenges assumptions of its destructive nature.

The blending of street, gallery and pop culture aesthetics forces us all to re-examine the definition of graffiti, which leads to this exhibition’s ultimate question: in the ever-evolving landscape of modern graffiti, is this form of expression an art or a crime?

Because this exhibition explores the nature of expression, visitors are encouraged to participate by creating their own graffiti on a “free wall.”

The exhibition is presented by students in ART 655 Curatorial Practice, a core course in NIU’s Interdisciplinary Graduate Certificate Program in Museum Studies, the only resource of its kind in the northern Illinois region. This certificate is jointly administered by the College of Education, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the College of Visual and Performing Arts.

The certificate has been designed to prepare students for careers in public and private museums and related historical societies, archives, or other agencies or institutions that work with artistic, cultural or historical materials.

The program’s coordinator is Peter Van Ael. Past exhibitions have explored such diverse topics as tattoos, green living and zombies.

For more information on NIU’s museum studies program, visit or email [email protected].

by Clint Cargile