CMU School of Drama

Friday, March 31, 2017

After Going to Jail for Vandalism, a Virginia Muralist Keeps Painting

Creators: Though he's now a celebrated muralist, Virginia-based artist Mickael Broth's work used to get him into trouble. More than a decade ago, as a graffiti-obsessed teenager, he was convicted of vandalism and destruction of property, and subsequently served 10 months in jail.

Forthcoming and transparent, Broth now draws on the experience to inform his creative work, and even wrote a series of books about what it's like to be an artist behind bars.

6 comments:

Vanessa Ramon said...

I don't know why, but I remember as a young kid, my parents came home from an art gallery reception with a spray paint photo that I thought was beautiful (and is still hanging up in our house). I remember my mom telling me about how the artist had gone to jail for his work with spray paint, but despite that, kept working with the art form that he loved. Even as a young child I remember thinking, "how is it right for someone to go to jail for making art?". Now that I'm older I understand that it was more of the vandalism that got him in jail, but I still find it upsetting. I see most who spray paint the side of buildings as artists who want to make important art for everyone to see. In Mickael's case, its sad to hear that going to jail changed so much for him personally and with his art. I am glad he has found his way back to what he loves. I really like what he said about how now he doesn't care if people like his work as long as they see the skill put into it.

Sarah Boyle said...

I love this artist’s attitude, that he doesn’t care whether or not people like his artwork as long as they can appreciate the difficulty. I completely agree, you should evaluate how good or bad a piece is in terms of technical and conceptual skill separate from your personal taste. Plus, he painted a mural that is just the word mural, and I really like that. I liked his use of space with the one of the witch hats and the wizard hat points above the brick wall. I don’t know if he was painting existing features of the buildings, or if he added a material for the points, but it’s an interesting way to break out of the defined space. His gallery work is stylistically similar, but I liked the variety of forms, breaking up a piece into small canvases or building a sculpture. The gallery pieces felt like they were made for the gallery, not just a graffiti mural being brought inside, where it wasn’t intended to be.

Claire Krueger said...

Looking at his work I can't help but feeling my vandalism bug bubbling back up inside of me again. I love how his style is so irregular and how he describes it as a skill rather than a weakness. Its obvious he has a aptitude for illustration but I can’t help but wonder where he learned his painting techniques. They’re so refined and varied I can’t image he taught himself, and the illuminati deep inside of me make me believe there's some sort of underground big little vandalism cult. Maybe he got in with his prison connections. I want to see his work in person, it's so intricate yet balanced and I feel the colors aren't true to the photograph. I think I may have found a new motto, “ I didn't care if other people didn't like them, as long as they couldn't deny the skill it took to make them”

Galen shila said...

I think having some run in with the law as a graffiti artist is kind of a prerequisite for becoming truly great. I find that it dose one of two things. It either pushes the artist to continue to create illegally always trying to get better. Or it causes them to go the legal rout and they refine their art in that way. Either way the roots of graffiti art will always run in the streets. It is an unadulterated unfiltered passion for art that the artists are willing to risk their freedom for. I think this is a great article because the artist uses his experience to push himself. Anytime someone can find money in what they love to do i am always so happy. As an artists i feel that finding that passion and push inside of yourself to do bigger and better things despite the odds is the most important thing you can do.

Chris Calder said...

Graffiti is one of those things, I love it because of how beautiful and unique each piece of art is, but at the same time I hate seeing it be abused in society. So often people associate graffiti as an art form with vandalism, but it just so happens that many of the artists that practice graffiti do it on public property. This truly is very sad because some of the graffiti that I have seen is truly inspirational and shows the extreme talent that these artists have. When I was growing up my mom was a person that associate this art with vandalism and it wasn’t until I started to research it on my own that I established an appreciation for it. So it is sad to see these artists get put in jail for their work, but I would much rather see this art done on a transitional canvas rather than seeing on the side of the highway during my daily commute.

Zak Biggins said...

I have such mixed feelings about this. While I do understand that mural painting is considered vandalism, I think it's beautiful art and serves its purpose in society. In my hometown (west palm beach, florida), we have an entire area of downtown which is enthralled by beautiful murals. Each one tells a story and adds a little more color to a beautiful city. I think that type of expression of art should absolutely be celebrated, however, I do understand the need for structure. Perhaps if every city had a designated art district that would really help isolate the number of illegal mural paintings or tagging. Now I know how impossible it would be to accomplish that with the current presidential administration (the very same administration that basically wants to cut art, science, and anything that gets in the way of his WEEKLY golfing adventures), however, I think this could be a very beautiful cause that could really change the rhetoric we have in our nation.