HYPERLOCAL NEWS HUB BY THE UNIVERSITY OF MEMPHIS DEPARTMENT OF JOURNALISM
Cooper-Young Graffiti: Art or Eyesore?
For such a decorative community, why is public displays of art such a conspiracy?
Ashli Blow/MicroMemphis Reporter
If you take a walk though Cooper-Young there are many pieces of street art, graffiti, or small road trinkets that will catch your eye. Besides reports of vandalism to the Memphis Police Department, community members and vistors never publicly voiced a concern online. At least not to the the extent as many Memphians did on the Commercial Appeals comment section of the story, "I Love Memphis Campaign Mural Promoters Find Tough Crowd Downtown." The story drove 155 responses. The feedback was in response to the "I Love Memphis Mural" in Cooper-Young.
Here are a few positive and negative responses from the Commercial Appeals article:
Kristan Huntley, Cooper-Young Community Association Director, said that she noticed that community members had opinons on the mural from both sides of the spectrum.
"The CYCA was not involved with the mural," she said." We actually did not know about it until right before it went up. However, it serves kind of as a landmark in our community.Also, I feel it is promoting positivity in the neighborhood. Which is good."
In the year 2000 the CYCA did work work on the Cooper-Young Trestle, a structure creating a welcoming entrance to the community.
In regards to unapproved street art or graffiti on public property, Huntley said it is generally frowned upon in the community. Although, the CYCA tends to leave most street art up if residents do not complain about it to the association.
"As a general rule of thumb, as long as it is not offensive and no one comes in our office talking about it, then there isn't a rush to take it down. The graffiti in the community is not gang related and is done by artist. There have been times that a board member and I have gone and cleaned up areas like the bridge on Barksdale."
The CYCA have plans to create a mural along the bridge on Mclean and an urban art project under the bridge on Barksdale. However, these projects are in early phases and have had limited discussion.
Huntley said they have only talked about the possibility of murals and projects along the the underpass. Community members will be included in the decision and the CYCA is looking into a fund that will push the project forward.
Michael Schmidt, Director of Multimedia Arts at The University of Memphis, said street artist have to be aware of the context they are placing their art in. He said the people who live, work, and play where the images are placed, will be the ones who judge the art pieces and whether they belong in the community.
" I support the idea of public art. There's a difference, though, between a public art commission that takes into consideration the perspectives and needs of those occupying the environment, and something that has been placed upon the environment without, perhaps, regard to those inhabitants," he said.
Huntley said that the art under the bridges are most likely being done by an art collective, a group of artist working together to make a statement to the community.
Cooper-Young Street Art Gallery
All photographs taken by Ashli Blow unless otherwise noted on picture
Ashli Blow | MicroMemphis Reporter
Ashli Blow is a reporter for MicroMemphis and a student at The University of Memphis majoring in Broadcast News and Marketing. Follow her on twitter!