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Sasha De La Cruz's picture


Drake is a single father who owns a bodega near by his home. He has an 18 year-old daughter, Nikki, who considers herself to be an artist – a street artist to be more specific. Although Nikki spends hours drawing, painting and sketching in her room, she also goes out late at night with a group of friends to perform street art. Drake already sees art as just a hobby rather than something that can be turned into a good career, nevertheless does he condemn street art and finds it to be “dirty” and a problem for the city. Although Drake is aware that his daughter loves art, he is not aware that she performs street art; he just thinks that she does murals in schools, and paints for fun and because it is her passion.


On a Friday night, Nikki gets into a huge argument with her father over her boyfriend (which her father disapproves of). After the argument, Nikki decided she wanted to rebel so she went to her fathers store and painted one of her signature design.

It is Saturday morning and Drake and Nikki arrive at the bodega.


D Son of a B*!

Nikki comes running outside

N What happened?

D Someone drew all this crap on my wall

N What crap?

D All this graffiti.

   I don’t understand!

   Don’t these kids have anything better to do?!

N Dad its just art.

A different kind of art

D Art!

   You call this art?!

   All these people are doing is destroying the city by writing on all the walls.

N No dad, these are just artists.

D Oh yeah!

   These gangbangers just don’t appreciate our community.

   They can’t stand to see something that looks nice.

   They just have to make sure they touch everything with their graffiti

N Oh my God!

   Dad all they are trying to say is that they exist,

   They just want some attention and this is the only way they can get it.

   These artists just want to be seen and heard, but they are always being ignored.

   And plus, this isn’t graffiti, this is just a picture/painting … like a mural

D You have to be joking! That is the dumbest thing I have ever heard in my life.

   These people are good for nothing!

   All they are doing is destroying property

Nikki paints over the picture.


After Nikki already painted over her own drawing, someone else from the neighborhood tagged it again. Nikki did not know about this until the next morning.

It is Sunday morning.


D You have to be kidding me!

N What?

D They came back!

N Who?

D The people from yesterday, they came back!

N You really don’t see the art behind it?

D Here we go again with the art!

   This is NOT art!

N I mean, not in the traditional way people think of art

D In any type of way!

Drakes voice becomes louder 

   This is vandalism!

   If you painted on my wall without my permission it is a crime!

N Dad, these are people who become invisible

   They are expressing themselves the only way they know how!

   They are communicating in the only language they feel comfortable in

Nikki’s voice sounds panicky and gets louder

   They are taking a spray can and paint yelling at the world:


Of course, Nikki stays distraught. Her being an artist, a street artist at that, listening to her father shutting and criminalizing her passion leaves her in disbelief.



As I was thinking about what type of community I wanted to write about, I was originally going to pick the deaf community since it was so relevant. After having a long conversation with my younger sister about some art projects she had to do, I realized I could not really help her since I am not an artsy person.  As I kept explaining to her how confused trying to understand how can someone grade someone else’s’ art. She told me she wasn’t even sure herself, then she made this enormous connection between people “grading” or giving more value to famous Italian and French artists but far more less value to those who do street art. Then I thought about the mural tour we did, and how the program silenced street artists.



Anne Dalke's picture

How to "grade" art?

I'm tickled to see how many of you took the opportunity to write a play (see, for example, Michaela's and sdane's dramatizations of family and friends' cultures of silence). I think that this encounter between a father and his daughter clarifies many of the issues that were raised in our mural arts tour. The most poignant moment in your play, of course, is when you have Nikki paint over her own drawing--talk about silencing!

What I'm missing, though, is some "conclusion" to your play…it ends w/ Nikki's being distraught, but let's think about activism here: where might this go? what might a scene 3 look like? how might Nikki become visible--to her father, or to the larger community? What sort of reconciliation might be possible, and how could it be achieved? Is there a role here for Mural Arts, or were you deliberate in leaving them so explicitly "out of the picture"?

I posted a description of a second tour I took, in which the guide characterized graffiti as "the work of individual artists," in contrast to murals, which she called the "expression of a community." It seems as if, for your Nikki, counter to her idea, street art is a communal activity….and in that context, I'm remembering the important moment in your first paper, when you gave such a  great example of the power of collaboration, of you and your classmates joining your voices in protest….

And of course I'm wondering what the relationship is between the family dynamic you dramatize here, and your other account, last month, of feeling silenced because you couldn't "speak with depth"  about the class readings. What was it like for you to speak here, now, in this dramatic mode? Did you feel more enabled, more empowered, more able to demonstrate what you had to say, in this more creative form?