By Glynnis Mapp
A student whizzes by on a metal scooter in the main foyer of the architecture building.
Mechanical pencils sketch, creating designs spilled from the minds of future architects. “Fuck you Ed!” is spray painted in bold purple across a fourth-floor wall, a message from a former student to Edward Wojs, an architecture professor.
Joanna Amaya, a first-year student, says Wojs is a hard marker and not easy to impress. The graffiti message doesn’t surprise her.
“The graffiti makes you feel connected somehow with the students who were here last year. It’s like we’ve all been through the same experiences,” says Amaya as she points to the markings. “We work hard on our projects. The person was probably mad about a mark they got back and decided to do it for a laugh.”
Students in the architecture program are given a freedom that other students at Ryerson don’t enjoy: They are permitted to spray paint the third and fourth floors of the building.
Both floors are covered from bottom to top with designs and sketches, tags and spray painted messages from past students.
The workspaces of the architecture building are pockets of organized chaos.
Cascading the movable dividers and the level’s spacious walls are the proverbial cave markings of former students. Sentences, like “Sleep is for the weak!” are scrawled across the walls.
Abstract “No Smoking” signs sprawl in metallic silver spray paint. A Charlie’s Angels silhouette painting shows the gun-toting girls poised and ready for action. Charged with school spirit, “Architecture rocks!” dons an adjoining wall.
One phrase among the interpretative symbols is an inspirational statement that pans across the top of the wall: “The goal of education is to fill an empty mind with an open one.”
Jeff Halstead is one of many students who think the graffiti fits the space and students of the program. “It’s expression, and you’re putting yourself and your ideas on the walls,” he says. “Sometimes when you’re bored of working on one project, you can [graffiti the walls] and be creative in another way.”
Fourth-year students see the graffiti as their history. Senior professor Masha Etkind supports the wall markings and says the graffiti helps students display their talents.
“Students should be able to express their feelings. Artistic expression is important, but I’m against the art that has negative political and personal messages.”
Other students feel the graffiti doesn’t give the best impression of architecture students and their esteemed program. Jason Fung, a first-year student, says the building is in need of a serious makeover.
“If you’re going to put art on the walls, it should look good. Right now, it just looks like bathroom graffiti.” Fourth-year student Andrew Chiu, says the graffiti he and other students created are things of the past.
He wants students and faculty to move forward.
“The graffiti is great for expression, but we could do more, something that will make a difference and use the skills we’ve learned here,” says Chiu, as he points to the concrete-and-grass patched space between the Rogers Communication Centre, the Architectural Sciences Building and Pitman Hall.
“I mean, it’s just sitting there wasted and there are talented students here who could help make a modern landmark.”
Chair of architecture, George Kapelos, and Assistant chairs Jurij Leshchyshyn and Constantine Katsanis would not comment.