How DC Mayor Bowser used graffiti to protect public space
Art scholars note that most types of graffiti are meant to claim or reclaim territory by those who are systematically excluded. “Writers” often work quickly and at night, when they are less likely to be seen and arrested for painting on others’ property without consent.
Bowser’s action would likely be considered vandalism if not for the fact that it was carried out by the city’s Department of Public Works, using city funds. She wielded municipal services as artistic tools to condemn another state-sanctioned action, the violence perpetrated against Black people.
Like a seasoned culture jammer, Bowser challenged the system by liberating the space from domination. She turned the streets into a canvas.