Smokey D: From Graffiti Streets to University Seats

Smokey D: From Graffiti Streets to University Seats

James Hardy, a prominent figure in Vancouver’s graffiti scene, also known as Smokey D or Smokey Devil, is now sharing his expertise with students at Emily Carr University. Hardy’s murals, notably seen in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, often address the area’s intense struggles with the toxic drug crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic, portraying these issues through a compassionate and positive lens. His contributions to the city have been recognized with an official ‘Smokey D Day,’ even though Hardy has also encountered legal hurdles for his graffiti in the past.

Reshaping the Perception of Graffiti

Hardy is teaching a course titled ‘How to Appreciate Graffiti’ at the university, an initiative aiming to reform public perception about graffiti. The course underscores the personal significance of this art form, highlighting its growing acceptance in mainstream society.

A Course with a Difference

The ‘How to Appreciate Graffiti’ course, a first in Canada, ventures into the intricate social issues surrounding street art. It unravels the complexities tied to vandalism, public space ownership, and class. The curriculum extends beyond theory, offering practical exposure to students. As part of the course, students’ artwork will be displayed at the Fingerprint Gallery in Vancouver.

Encouraging a Collaborative Approach

Hardy encourages students to perceive graffiti as a collaborative effort. He motivates them to embrace the ephemeral nature of their work and not be disheartened by it. In doing so, Hardy is not just educating students about graffiti but is also shaping a new generation of artists who can view this art style from a fresh perspective.

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