Abandoned Canvas (2012)

by Naithon Henning and Majaliwa Mzombwe


Graffiti artists in Birmingham, working under cover of darkness to create art in public spaces and on private property, talk about the meaning of their art, which is not appreciated by many building owners.

Filmmaker Statement:

Abandoned Canvas: Painting on Birmingham’s Margins is a film focused on Birmingham’s graffiti scene. The community we spoke with recall how within the 80’s-90’s graffiti was thriving but regrettably inform us today it is hanging by a few strong threads. One of the troubles the graffiti writers find themselves continuously fighting is the stereotype that graffiti is vandalism therefore is done by gang members or troublesome youth. This film was created with the intent to destroy the negative stereotypes stuck to graffiti and express that it is an art form used to beautify the abandoned spaces Birmingham has in abundance.

Discussion Questions

Comprehension:

  • What is one stereotype about graffiti writers?
  • What is one of the most recognized graffiti names in Birmingham?
  • What is one of the most universal ways people encounter art?

Analysis:

  • What harm is graffiti causing to the people of Birmingham?
  • Should graffiti be removed from buildings?
  • Why are the newer generation more accepting to graffiti being an art, and more willing to allow it to grow than the older generations?
  • What would making graffiti legal do to graffiti itself, in your opinion?

Resources

Daze's Flickr page: Local graffiti artist
City Action Partnership: A Nonprofit organization enabled by state legislation and city ordinance to provides services in downtown Birmingham, Alabama.
Gallery of Graffiti in Birmingham

Further Reading

Painting Without Permission: Hip-hop Graffiti Subculture by Janice Rahn
Graffiti: Two Thousand Years of Wall Writing by Robert Reisner 
Crimes of Style: Urban Graffiti and the Politics of Criminality by Jeff Ferrell