Tag Archives: graffiti

Wall Quotes at HB Woodlawn


This piece is about painted wall quotes from graduating seniors at a high school in the Washington DC Metropolitan Area.

Main Piece: (L is the informant and I is the interviewer)

“L: At my school when you become a senior and you’re graduating, you get to write a quote on the wall. In your group.

I: In your group?

L: In your, like, age group. Like the 2005’s. Or the graduates of the 2005’s.

I: What school do you go to?

L: HB Woodlawn in Arlington, VA.

I: Why do you guys get to do this?

L: Um, to have like your message to the school. So people can look at it. It’s not necessary to look at, but it’s not hidden away in a yearbook.”


The informant is a 13 year old girl who attends a middle/high school in Arlington Virginia called HB Woodlawn. She started attending the school in 6th grade and plans to graduate from the school as well. The school is small in comparison to the other local public high schools and can only be attended through a lottery system. The school is known as the “Hippie” School because of it’s nonchalant rules and artistic programs that other schools in the area do not have. This senior tradition at HB Woodlawn allows students to leave a quote or message painted on the walls of the school for future students to read, instead of having a yearbook quote.


Leaving your mark at this school reminds me of graffiti and leaving messages in that way as well. Since the school is artistic and focuses heavily on creative ideals, it makes sense to me that they would have this unconventional way of leaving senior quotes. In a way, this version of senior quotes allows for more students to view the messages over the years. For example, if you are a freshman looking at a yearbook, you will only see the quotes of the seniors from that particular year. You would miss out on the quotes from seniors in the years before you entered the school. However, in this version of senior quotes, you will see the quotes on the walls for years and years.



Graffiti Wall at Scripps College

Background information:

My sister, Jennifer, attends Scripps College and is graduating this year (2018). She is an English major and an Economics minor at the school and is greatly interested in literature, culture, and classic novels. Because Scripps College is a small, private, liberal arts college in the middle of the 5 Claremont Colleges Consortium, she has found that it has been a fantastic school for her to expand and learn about her interests and passion for literature. Due to her immense love for the school, she has been an active member in the college’s social life and learned about countless traditions that Scripps College engages in.


Main piece:

Walking around Scripps, my sister Jennifer, notes that one of her favorite locations is the Graffiti Wall located right in between the Toll Residence Hall and the Browning Residence Hall. She told me that this wall was something that she remembered all the way from her first tour of Scripps College as a prospective student. She remembers it so vividly because it is completely filled with past students’ names and she could not wait to be able to write her name on the wall upon graduation. Jennifer told me that seeing other students’ names and the year that they graduated was a huge inspiration to her because she often passed by it on her way to classes at Harvey Mudd College and saw how many women that had been in her place in the past. She said that the Graffiti Wall gave her a wholesome sense of history because she saw names from people that had graduated back in 1931, when the Graffiti Wall was started due to Scripps College’s first graduating class. Therefore, this wall gave her a very warm feeling and made her feel at home at Scripps and also felt like she was contributing to the traditions and history at Scripps College.


Personal thoughts:

When my sister told me about the impact that this Graffiti Wall made on her, I was very pleasantly surprised. I attended Scripps College for my freshman year of college and did not have the same connection to the wall, so it was nice to hear that she felt so connected to the school. I believe that since she enjoyed the curriculum at Scripps more than I did, this shaped her pride and desire to be featured on the Graffiti Wall upon her graduation. Now, she will make her mark and get a chance to sign the Graffiti Wall in May of 2018 when she graduates from this beautiful liberal arts college and will forever be a part of the history at Scripps College.

Storm Drain called “Hitler’s Tunnel” in Palos Verdes

The informant is from Palos Verdes, apeninsula area on the coast of Southern California.

The informant claims there is a large storm drain that leads into the ocean which has gained popularity among the youth of the area. The storm drain, nicknamed “Hitler’s Tunnel”, has been responsible for inspiring many myths in the area.

AB: A bunch of kids would go into–literally go into the tunnel, and… allegedly, there was a group of middle schoolers from Dana High–from Dana middle school, whatever– that went into the tunnel and was never seen again. It was a group of like three kids. There’s like a bunch of creepy graffiti outside of that tunnel because, like, everyone goes there to get scared…or whatever. 

Why is it called “Hitler’s Tunnel”?

AB: The Hitler part actually had no significance at all. I was wondering, like, “Is it a tunnel that was used during World War II or something like that?” and turns out there’s actually nothing with that tunnel that has to do with World War II or anything like that. Just has to do with three kids that disappeared there once.

Do people still go there?

AB: Yeah, people go there to tag it and write obscenities on it. And that’s pretty much what it’s known for.


A Google search of “Hitler’s Tunnel, Palos Verdes” yields thousands of results, including many videos taken by youths exploring the tunnel and maps indicating the locations of the tunnel.


Folk Art

Tagging- Folk Art

“When I was in my crew back when I was in bad footsteps I used to hit up my name and the crew. I used those things that they use for rock climbing and two niggas would have to hold the rope and pull me up so I could hit up spots like on the bridges over the freeways and on high buildings and shit. I got caught a few times, I don’t do that shit no more though, its not worth it.”

Frank’s account of “hitting up” referrers to “tagging” or “graffiti” using spray cans. In gang and “crew” culture, getting ones identity out in public especially on hard to reach places is especially respected. Although illegal, it is easy to graffiti at night and not get caught by the police.

I would classify “tagging” or “hitting up” as folk art. While many members quickly spray their names down to avoid getting caught, other “taggers” take their time making “pieces” which are more elaborate and decorative forms of graffiti. Some “pieces” or “bombs” are very aesthetically appealing and actually can add a unique feature to communities. Some places, like one spot on Venice Beach, actually allow graffiti to be put on walls. Though it is still not recognized as a form of high art by the mainstream, graffiti art has become a serious and appreciated art form for some people. This is especially true in the hip hop culture.

While I am not at all justifying gang activity, this account of graffiti reminded me of the art which I actually do appreciate when done in ways which certain “taggers” take seriously.