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Monday, June 17
The Indiana Daily Student


Limits of art

When does art go from avant-garde to aggravating?

It came to light Tuesday that a woman has defaced national parks with art. Casey Nocket has traveled through the western United States, painting pictures at parks she’s been at and posting pictures of her adventures on Instagram. The National Parks Service announced Wednesday that it was conducting an investigation of the vandalism.

Nocket isn’t the first person to be caught defacing nature in this way.

And before any of that, people were carving their initials into trees and rocks. We want to leave our mark, to be remembered. But this does beg the question of how far is too far.

Many artistic greats weren’t loved or even paid attention to in their lifetimes. Van Gogh died poor and depressed. But this has changed as we have grown more connected. It’s easy now to create works and showcase them to the world immediately. Every artist can upload to their followers and the whole Internet.

Our acceptance of disruptive art has also changed. Art often struggles with topical issues and can be abrasive. It can even be illegal.

The rise in popularity of street art shows this. Artists like Banksy and Shepard Fairey have gone from public nuisances to household names. The fringes of our society move to the middle as time passes. People come to accept what once shocked them.

But even street art has been changed by the rise of 24-hour connection. Audiences are so much easier to acquire when all of your friends see your updates. Being the center of attention isn’t just about skill, it’s also about how well you use trending hashtags.

And I’m not blaming Instagram or social media. They’re as good or bad as people make them. But they do say something about how we are creative and how we express our creativity. Some people will go to great lengths to be noticed.

Maybe we should be more accepting of art in different forms. Maybe we should let people create beauty in many ways and in many places. Or maybe we should teach people that just because you can grab the world’s attention doesn’t mean you always should.

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