WE WERE HERE: GRADUATION STREET PAINTING IN LANDSCAPES OF MEMORY AND PLACE IN WINCHESTER, VIRGINIA Public Deposited

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  • March 19, 2019
Creator
  • Riley, Danielle
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of American Studies, Folklore Program
Abstract
  • This thesis explores graduation street painting, a practice of the graduates of John Handley High School in Winchester, Virginia, which has been referred to as graffiti in the city’s local newspaper. Although graffiti has been associated with vandalism and gang activity in Northern Virginia, I argue that the graduation street painting is unique because of its construction and placement. Graduation street painting also provides some Winchester residents with fond images in landscapes of place and memory while it complicates notions of heritage and legacy for other residents. The painting constitutes a public performance by Handley graduates that is intended to invite participation with members of their communities, but those communities do not encompass all of Winchester. Graffiti frequently is perceived as an act against the community which local and regional newspapers often associate with gang activity, further perpetuating community concern. In Winchester, such perceptions have led authorities to attempt to stop and criminalize graffiti through local ordinance, while refraining from specifically addressing the graduation street painting in the language of the law. As a result, outlawing graffiti in the city code but permitting graduation street painting to continue results in the governing authorities of Winchester inadvertently reinforcing positions of privilege for graduates of John Handley High School and their communities.
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  • In Copyright
Advisor
  • Herman, Bernard
  • Hinson, Glenn
  • Sawin, Patricia
Degree
  • Master of Arts
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2015
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Place of publication
  • Chapel Hill, NC
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