Graffiti. Street Art. Murals. Each term has a distinct meaning that shapes “Beyond the Streets.” The following is an overview of what these terms mean as background to the exhibition.


Graffiti is a millennia-old term and concept, modern-day graffiti sprung from New York and Philadelphia in 1967. It is based on repeatedly writing one’s name for the sake of notoriety.

  • The Core act of graffiti is stylizing & embellishing the writer’s name
  • Generally, graffiti is illegal
  • Graffiti can be done legally, but no one can be considered a serious graffiti writer without an extensive portfolio of illegal work

Street art’s definition today dates to around the year 2000, when a critical mass of artists, were working outside of grati’s name-based parameters. Street art is a catch-all term for work that isn’t graffiti and while still illegal, street art is often more friendly and approachable for the general public. Street art can mean image or text-based work including:

  • Posters
  • Stickers
  • Stencils
  • Installations
  • Sculptures

Murals have exploded in popularity around the globe the past 15 years. They are supported by communities, business organizations and corporations partnering to organize festivals and arts districts. Muralists today are often artists with backgrounds in graffiti or street art, but increasingly are neither. They are simply artists who like to work big.


Graffiti has the tightest boundaries and its participants are the most secretive, territorial and protective of their culture.

Street Art as we know it today, sprung from the margins of graffiti and is more accepted and celebrated by the public.

Murals are a stand-alone movement that embraces artists who are compelled to work on a large scale.