By: Elizabeth Ivanecky

Graffiti is vandalism — I won’t even begin to deny it, but it is also an important way for Mac students to artistically express themselves anonymously.

With November just a couple of weeks away, the stress of midterm exams and assignments is here. What it doesn’t mean is dropping all of our creative energy and redirect it only towards our studying.

The anonymity of graffiti art at Mac gives both freedom and power to the graffiti artist to speak their mind without the fear of their identity being discovered.

“Have you seen the White Whale?” adapted to the context of McMaster from Herman Melville’s classic Moby Dick nearly covered Mac’s pavements over the summer and start of the school year by an anonymous chalk artist.

Lines such as, “if all the buildings on campus were sea creatures, McMaster Hospital would be the Great Leviathan,” made you giggle a little at the unique comparisons of literary figures to familiar structures on Mac’s campus.

While part of a larger thesis project, the drawings of whales incidentally brought back memories of finger painting and chalk drawing in kindergarten to me. They helped me forget about the world for a moment and live in the world of imagination.

Chalk drawings around campus aren’t the only ways to share with others visually how you are feeling — writings on school property walls are rather fascinating. Whether on the walls at Mills library, on pages in a research book for a paper or even in the stairwells, reading an inspiring quote or encouraging words someone wrote for a stranger makes you feel connected for a moment to someone else’s lived experience. These snippets of life make you realize that we do not study in a vacuum at McMaster.

You might be indifferent to these drawings and writings or refrain from calling them artwork, but individually and as a whole they share a story about a part of someone’s life that wanted and needed to be heard by others. For a brief moment, you acknowledged someone else’s existence as a creative being and lived in their world of imagination.

Interestingly enough, there is no written policy on persecuting graffiti artists or the illegality of the act itself. It only becomes concerning if the graffiti art depicts racial slurs or hate graffiti of any sort against a group or groups of individuals. While vandalism is still a crime, we could infer that there is little priority on getting rid of current street art and the positives it can bring.

We are not alone in the midterm season or throughout semester for that matter. We may finish our work individually and alone at our crammed desks, but in the end we all have to slog through late nights, early mornings and some semblance of a weekend to complete our terms sanely.

It’s easy at this time of year to adopt a narrow focus of going from class to library, finishing assignment after assignment and ultimately just getting from point A to point B. Frankly, I’ve learned in my own experience as an undergrad that the extra hour editing a paper won’t make much difference, but an hour spent posting a blog entry or making a homemade card for a friend will.

I challenge you today to prove to yourselves that even with the heaviness of our textbooks in our bags and midterms looming in our minds that we are more than our student IDs and cumulative averages.

Try leaving a kind note in an envelope or message in a bottle for someone to find on campus — at least you will have shown that schoolwork at Mac didn’t cramp your style.


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