Just Passin' Through...Images of America’s train art and graffiti rolling through Columbia, S.C.
Call it art, call it graffiti - these messages on a bottle crisscross North America by the thousands, a mobile menagerie of insults, strange beings, personal signatures, poems, political piths, and social commentary. They are America’s public folk art on wheels, a self-renewing gallery set loose to roam the rails. They are counter-culture statements, spoken by spray can in secret, a quiet defiance. Many of the rail yard crews collect their favorites on cell phones. Rail managers often hang them in their offices or homes.
This book is meant to capture of few of the best and most entertaining pieces, tags, and burners that have passed through Columbia, South Carolina in the past three years.
I started photographing train graffiti several years ago after watching Style Wars, a film documenting the New York subway writers and hip hop scene of the 1980s. As they roll past I get two seconds - perhaps three - to shoot them. Seldom will I see them again. Each one is destined to be buffed by the sandblaster or paint gun. For me, they are a breath of fresh air brightening a culture where - for most - art is an afterthought, and public art has no standing.