It’s an often used stereotype that artists are rebels. Whether they are fighting against authority, traditional artistic practices, or even their own parents, artists are seen as strong individuals on the edge of modern culture, trying to change it from the outside. Marco Valesi, an Italian student at UC Merced in California, may not be an artist, but he is certainly following suit.
Valesi is currently working on his thesis at UC Merced. His chosen topic is urban art, and how it affects the cities it is found in. The rebellion in such a choice isn’t apparent until one considers the identity of his father. Valesi’s father, a rich gallery owner in Italy, unintentionally turned his son off from traditional art at an early age, due mostly to the fact that it was so inaccessible to people without the money to enjoy it. When he discovered urban art, however, he found a new, infinitely accessible art form that appealed to everyone.
In his research, Valesi differentiates pointless graffiti from true urban art. While the former is simply done for the adrenaline rush of doing something illegal and not getting caught, the latter is a liberating and exciting field where artists can make their message known to the masses. His research focuses on areas like the border between Mexico and the United States, where artists attempt to portray that their ideas really aren’t all that different. The murals attempt to push ideas past those boundaries that people cannot move past themselves.