Petroglyphs, Graffiti, and the inscrutability of public art
|Petroglyph at Donner Pass (c) John Robison 2018|
A few hundred yards uphill you can see the tunnels that carried the first transcontinental railroad over the Sierra. The tunnels were cut in the 1860s, and augmented by wooden snow sheds to shelter the tracks from snow. The wooden sheds were vulnerable to fire and avalanche, and they were replaced by concrete structures in the 1950s.
|Donner Pass - petroglyphs on flat granite in foreground, tunnels and snow sheds above and behind|
Gangs over-write each other's symbols, but that is far from the only reason people write over existing art. Some simply want space for their creation. Others are jealous. Some of the notion of cleaning up "non-approved" art with something else. If we cannot understand the dynamics of graffiti now, how can we possibly understand the dynamics of 2,000BC?
John Elder Robison is an autistic adult and advocate for people with neurological differences. He's the author of Look Me in the Eye, Be Different, Raising Cubby, and Switched On. He serves on the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee of the US Dept of Health and Human Services and many other autism-related boards. He's co-founder of the TCS Auto Program (A school for teens with developmental challenges) and he’s the Neurodiversity Scholar in Residence at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia and an advisor to the Neurodiversity Institute at Landmark College in Putney, Vermont.