It would be an understatement to say homecoming celebrations are, as a rule, mindless fun. This can be a great relief. However, it wasn’t entirely true of this year’s dance.
In preparation, Santa Barbara High School held an aerosol art (a.k.a. graffiti) competition on Tuesday, October 6, in which students decorated plywood boards to display at the event. The idea came from the theme of the dance, “City Lights.” The Associated Student Body (ASB) needed a design element. This was an easy solution and a way to use student art. The homecoming officers also had the goal of bringing everyone together.
Camille Phillips, ASB treasurer, said of the process, “Our initial reasoning behind having [the competition] was to fill an empty hallway with decorations. As we continued preparations, though, our motives changed to include bringing the school together in a new and unique way.” It seems all of the officers shared a heretofore unspoken motivation to involve the entire school this time around. The idea of graffiti art attracts almost any young adult: It is urban, rebellious, and often aesthetically interesting. It was a way to mesh different ethnicities and personality types together.
The name aerosol art, versus graffiti art, was pitched because of the controversy “graffiti” holds. The administration could not advocate an act that violates school property daily; countless walls have been graffitied, painted over, and graffitied again.. But can it advocate the art form itself? Yes, because in this case the intentions and results were only positive. Of course, one could argue that without rebellion the art form loses much of its raw substance, that part of its charm is the dare-devil act.
That is why the competition was so amazing: The art didn’t lose its charm. It was endearing in different ways, like the way it united diverse students, brought a creative edge to a traditional celebration, and promoted the dance so that more students came. Just by looking at the competition’s crowd I could see that the idea would fulfill its purpose. Interest, talent, diversity, and genuine enjoyment were all present. A controversial element turned out, simply stated, to be a success.