Student Features

Junior Plans Graffiti Project in Barcelona

An emerging arts manager with passions for the arts, activism and the environment, Rebecca Waterhouse ’17 of Fairport, N.Y., is in Spain this semester, studying at the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona.

Waterhouse selected the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona in part because its business and culture classes complement her arts management studies at MCLA. However, a course offered  in “Urban Interventions, Graffiti and Public Sculpture,” which focuses on how cities use public space – not just artistically, but also socially and politically –  was the deciding factor in her selection of the Spanish university.

Art, Waterhouse said, can encourage action, especially when displayed in accessible, public spaces.

“Keeping a piece of work behind walls that has the potential of inspiring and connecting communities is limiting its power,” she said. “The creation of work in public spaces should be encouraged.” 

For her final project in this class, Waterhouse plans to create a graffiti piece on one of several walls located throughout Barcelona where it is legal to do so.

“While most graffiti artists put up tags to gain personal recognition, I hope to use the space to engage pedestrians in issues related to environmental problems, especially climate change,” Waterhouse explained. “Some ideas I have are straight the point, such as designs with facts related to rising sea levels and carbon emissions.

“Other ideas are more abstract, such as a giant pine tree climbing up the wall with the words, ‘Protect me and I will protect you,’” she continued. “The purpose is to start a conversation about personal impact related to these issues, whether internally or with others in the community.”

The project relates to a “Writing in the Arts” class Waterhouse took at MCLA, which she said determined the direction she will follow for the remainder of her arts management studies.

“It served as a type of workshop for us to individually develop our interests in the field and, eventually, what we would work toward following graduation,” she explained. “I entered the class not knowing where my place would be in the arts industry. But, after exercises like mind-maps and outside research, I realized that art activism was what excited me most about working in the field, and I continued to work with the idea throughout the class.”

Art activism, Waterhouse explained, is a way to communicate ideas through the use of art forms, including performance and visual art.

Barcelona, she said, is “a truly inspiring city.”

“The culture is built on creative expression and passion, and one can find public art – such as street art, graffiti, sculpture, murals and street performers – on every corner,” Waterhouse said. “There is never a day without a festival or event happening somewhere in the city. You can’t go 10 feet without seeing street art related to veganism, economic and political topics, recycling, and more. 

“I also find inspiration in the fact that people take their time here. Meals are meant to be long, and waiters never bring the check unless you ask for it. Having a coffee at a cafe for over an hour is the norm.” she continued. “This idea of taking time to spend time with others inspires me to move slower, think more thoughtfully, and be more aware of my surroundings and my actions.” 

MCLA, said Waterhouse, continues to open doors for her.

“I owe much of my preparation for success to my professors, who have encouraged me and my classmates to get involved in local events and projects, and continuously work toward leaving our comfort zones.”

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