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Film Studies Major Shares His Passion for Graffiti Art

March 2, 2009

Daniel D. Sanchez ’10 is a film studies major and also a talented graffiti artist. As part of an independent study project on campus during Winter Term in January, Sanchez painted a piece of mural-sized graffiti art with the word “have” in the center surrounded by the words love and hate.

Sanchez closeup.JPG“I chose the word ‘have’ because ‘ha’ are the first two letters of ‘hate’ and ‘ve’ are the last two letters in love.” Sanchez explains, “When you have something you can either love it or hate it. Graffiti has that love/hate relationship with society. It’s not often received as an art form but as vandalism instead. It’s the black sheep of all art forms.”

Sanchez’s faculty adviser for the project, Associate Professor of English and Ethics Program Coordinator M. Christine White says, “Daniel is a talented writer and artist, and he brings an expansive, yet warm, energy to his interactions with people, as well as his creative work. I hope this piece of art can live somewhere on campus.”

According to Gregory “Greg” R. Dillon, assistant dean of campus life, White’s wish may come true. The art piece may be displayed in the Union Building. Dillon states, “We’re still in the discussion stage. I’m hopeful that we can make it happen.”Sanchez grafitti art2.JPG

Growing up in the most populous city in the United States, Sanchez saw graffiti all around him in New York City. He became fascinated by it and began practicing by drawing sketches in black books – books with blank pages that graffiti artists use to perfect their skills before displaying their work in public. Sanchez admits that when he was younger, he displayed his art on buildings around the city.

Sanchez recently shared his interest in graffiti art with his father and was very surprised to learn that his father had made his mark on the city, too - on trains, “moving art shows”. They shared their black books and talked about their different experiences. The younger Sanchez reflects, “I wish that I could have been there with him in the 1970s and ‘80s when it was all beginning. The big hangouts for graffiti artists were in subway stations. The locations where they all met were referred to as “The Bench.” My dad remembers going to the subway station in the Bronx where artists would take their black books to share ideas.”

He credits his father, who is now a graphic artist in New York, for giving him some sound advice: “My dad said to look at what others are doing and take that and build on your own style. See how you can improve on it.”

5 Pointz sign.jpgSanchez did just that. He began spending time at 5 Pointz, an enormous old factory building in New York City. It’s currently a museum and visual arts center designed for graffiti painters and is considered an outdoor art gallery. In the summer, Sanchez frequents the safe haven for graffiti artists and soaks up the advice from more experienced artists. He attributes his artistic growth to them. 5 Pointz is different from other buildings covered with spray-painted graffiti art because artists must have a permit to paint there.

Reflecting on the opportunity to work with Sanchez, Professor White commented that Winter Term should be a time for students to "explore their individual passions in focused ambitious ways." She adds that, "DePauw students seem to thrive on carving out their own paths."Sanchez in front.JPG

When Sanchez talks about his art, he’s passionate. “It makes me happy. It’s therapeutic. There’s nothing between me and the canvas. Many artists use graffiti to express their political views. Not me. It’s an art form that is pure and innocent.”

Sanchez is president of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and a Posse Scholar. He is thankful for the scholarship and the opportunity to attend DePauw to study film.

During the summer prior to his arrival at DePauw, Sanchez was a student at the Ghetto Film School in New York. He wrote and directed a short film, The Tortoise, which won the Future Filmmaker award at the International Latino Film Festival in New York City in 2005. The film also received recognition at the Boston International Film Festival and the Princeton Student Film and Video Festival.

Photos of Sanchez were taken by Ivan D. Uskokovic '09.

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