Graffiti Eyes

Posted: Thursday August 18, 2011

Growing up in a small suburban New Jersey town, graffiti was and still is looked upon as a taboo form of expression. Every now and then some kid would spray paint a seemingly meaningless tag on a billboard or building side, only for the illicit mark to be quickly removed or painted over. It always interested me that such prompt action was taken to remove graffiti, where as in other more populous cities it was usually left up to nature to fade and wash away the marks. Reminiscing back on childhood memories it seems that graffiti, at least within the small suburban town I called home, was viewed as a threat, which left exposed to the public eye for too long would some how tarnish a certain "clean" image the town wanted to uphold.

As I grew older and aged through my adolescent years, severe cases of boredom would often take my friends and I to off limit places, such as abandoned buildings or under the various highway overpasses which criss-crossed and divided the local towns. We would dare each other too see how far one could climb out along the steel support beams of an overpass. Or sometimes we would just hang out in stinky old abandoned houses, until some inquisitive neighbor called the cops on use because we were making too much noise. It was certainly great fun and passed the time quickly.

Myself particularly always enjoyed hanging out under the overpasses because the huge cement pillars and walls stood essentially as an ever changing graffiti canvas. Most of the writing was just profane scribbles separated by the occasional mural. However the graffiti as a single entity, I found to be captivating to look upon. Regardless of the messages painted on the walls or the skill of the tags, the overpasses seemed to remain as a place where anyone could come to plaster the cement with the crazy thoughts fogging their minds. In a way it was very much a playground for us rebellious pubescent teens to congregate and escape the authority of an boring middle class town.

Recently I made a trip back to some of the overpasses, and was glad to see they remained just as colorful as I remembered them. A new generation of kids now call the concrete playground their hangout, as reflected by the recent tags which cover the fading scribbles and colors of a past generation's thoughts. Below are a handful of pictures I took of various murals and tags which caught my eye.

A short iPhone video clip detailing the underbelly of the overpass from which the previous five pictures where captured from.


The above is a picture of what one of the overpass looked like when my friends and I used to hang out there. At that point in time I hadn't taken up photography, so it's the only image I have.

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