Should graffiti be considered an art?
First, a quick refresher on what graffiti is: graffiti is unauthorized writing/drawings/spray paint art on public spaces like walls, streets, or buildings. It can be as simple as someone marking their initials in Sharpie on a the wall of the Post Office, or as elaborate as a stencil-and-spray-paint portrait of Anne Frank on the side of a restaurant.
So, should graffiti be considered an art? People have differing opinions. Some people view graffiti as a nuisance, ugly, inappropriate, or vandalism, because usually graffiti artists don't ask the permission of the institution they paint. Graffiti may include obscenities, political statements, or other content that makes people uncomfortable. It can also be expensive and labor-intensive to remove, and since it's usually anonymous, public institutions that don't want a certain picture on their walls have to cover the costs themselves.
However, others consider graffiti an important form of public art, protest, and expression. Famous graffiti artists like Banksy or Lady Pink use their images to tackle issues like the refugee crisis or the representation of women in public space. Graffiti can challenge the status quo by forcing people to confront uncomfortable issues on the street; it can also beautify public spaces. Some artists have even gained recognition in the mainstream art world: Lady Pink, for example, has collaborated with New York museums.
Whether or not it's considered "art," graffiti is certainly a form of human expression, and can tell us about history: from cave markings to doodles in WWII bunkers, etchings, writings, and drawings say a lot about how people engage with their environment. Just as graffiti 200 years ago created a record of what was happening then, graffiti now may serve future anthropologists in understanding the way we live now.