Saturday, March 20, 2010

Train Graffiti, Part 2

My original impulse to photograph boxcars happened before I began to notice how the graffiti painted on them was so much a part of them.  I actually started looking at these all-steel containers as symbols of the 'iron age' and industrialism in general.  I moved in and recorded details of their door latches, and I found that the rust, fork-lift damage, general wear and tear was interesting by itself. Here's an example:

It didn't take long before I realized that these 'heavy metal' images would benefit from also having the colorful efforts of graf artists over-sprayed on them.  And so I began looking actively for the corners of boxcar doors that had this added element.  What I found eventually became an entire body of work that spoke to the relationship of not just the transformative application of color on such a cobby background, but also said something inexplicably appealing about the relationship of these outsider artists to their chosen 'canvases'.

Here are a few examples of this unique pairing of heavy industry and young artists who are using it as a means of reaching a broad audience:

I also began to notice that the lettering and numbers on the boxcars combined with the graffiti in ways that was unexpectedly interesting and even serendipitous in its possible meaning and interpretations.

In 2005 I had about 40 of these photos in a museum show at the University of New England, alongside my 'straight' photos, and the images of the graffiti stole the show.

More coming....

1 comment:

Teresa Evangeline said...

Thank you opening my eyes to the beauty found in this graffiti. Now, every time I drive across this country, I look for it on every passing train. Traveling art... I love it.