Class Report

Exploring the Murals of Richmond

Mural at 205 East Marshall St., Richmond, Va., by Aniekan Udofia

On Jan. 18, 2014, a KCDC contingent spent a cold Saturday viewing 20-plus murals in Richmond, Va., all painted within the past two years and curated by Art Whino.

Graffiti: A Brief History
Graffiti may be the only art form we can say was popularized by kids, some as young as 10 years old. Beginning in New York in the 1960s and 70s with taggers such as Taki 183, the movement was about having your name seen all over the city, and was less grounded in gang culture than many believe. (Numerous street artists claim their art is what kept them out of gangs.) Crime certainly had its place, however: Many of the youngsters stole their paint and crossed private property lines to make their tags.

Today, divisions within the scene mean artists define their work as street art, muralism, or new graffiti, to name a few names. Some paint with the aid of projectors, while others do their work entirely by hand. I believe both methods are valid, as the art springs from the individual artist first and foremost.

Graffiti in Richmond
Richmond didn’t gain prominence on the graffiti scene until 1997, when several well-known street artists moved to the city for Virginia Commonwealth University’s top-notch undergraduate arts program. As a center of arts training, Richmond was a natural spot for the Richmond Mural Project, which celebrates its third season this summer.

For those wanting to explore the city themselves, I created a map with markers and images of all the murals painted over the past two years. Along the way you’ll discover tags, local murals, and much more.

I interviewed several artists for the tour. Many of the interviews are posted on my website. (Under “Classes.”)

Related Resources

1980s History: Film
Wild Style” trailer

1980s History: Documentary
Style Wars
Stations of the Elevated
The Legend of Cool Disco Dan

1980s History: Books
Subway Art

Contemporary History: Documentary
Art 21: Barry McGee and Margaret Kilgallen
Beautiful Losers” (on Netflix)
Exit Through the Gift Shop” (on Netflix)

General History: Books
The History of American Graffiti

See more photos of this trip on Flickr!

Erika Rydberg, a D.C. transplant from the northernly lands of Boston, got involved with Knowledge Commons DC after an awesome experience in a Brookline, Mass., community skillshare during her college days. By day she works at a library and by night she can be found performing poetry, listening to music, or cooking copious amounts of vegetarian food.