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Dallavis Garage Door

April 9, 2018

“Hip-hop began as a sub-culture,” J. Anthony Snorgrass, Ph.D., MCRP, AICP said. “But now it is deeply embedded throughout the advertising world and it nearly dominates the art world. One of the most prolific ways the hip-hop culture combines art and advertising together is through graffiti.”

Art, Advertising, and Hip Hop Culture is an Avila class taught by professors Snorgrass, and Marci Aylward, MFA. Its purpose is to uncover the influence that hip-hop culture has had on not just music, but the art world and the advertising world.

“One of the most prolific ways the hip-hop culture combines art and advertising together is through graffiti.”

This is where the story begins. You may have seen the loading dock garage door behind the Dallavis Viscom building (Look closely. Stand behind the building and be in view of Thompson Hall. Now turn around and look back at Dallavis). This story isn’t so much what the mural is, but how it got there and why.

The whole idea behind graffiti is to make a statement and to do it without it being commissioned – without permission. The graffiti on the Viscom garage door was the idea of the students in Art, Advertising, and Hip Hop Culture in 2016, and it was done without university permission.

“You might say there was some acknowledgment, but there really wasn’t any permission to do it,” Snorgrass said. “The students knew the statement they wanted to make: Hip Hop is about unity, love and having fun, so we painted the garage door in the spirit of unity and love, and we had a lot of fun.”

“Hip Hop is about unity, love and having fun, so we painted the garage door in the spirit of unity and love, and we had a lot of fun.”

A famous adage says “It is better to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission.” That is the backbone of Hip-Hop and of noncommissioned graffiti. “But I believe in safeguards,” Snorgrass said. “Yes, I helped the students to push the envelope, but I already had resources necessary for painting the door back to its original color, if need be. As a matter of fact, we would make it better than it was if we were told to.”

There was a brief moment of controversy with the new graffiti. It was reported as vandalism the next day, as expected. “There was a pow-wow, for sure. There was a big meeting, and I was prepared to restore it to its original state,” Snorgrass said. “But instead, we found out that we had support for keeping it. And look, it was an opportunity to explain and enlighten others. And if you can teach something without causing any harm, teach it.”

In addition to the Viscom graffiti, there is now the “mural in the moat” at Marian Center – which was commissioned and dedicated in the fall of 2017. Stay tuned. There may be more to come as Avila’s rich history continues to unfold.

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