Street Art Comes to National Parks—Is It Vandalism?

Graffiti art left Crater Lake National Park, Oregon, by Casey Nocket. Photo: creepytings.
Graffiti art left in our national parks by Casey Nocket. Photo: creepytings.

Graffiti art left in our national parks by Casey Nocket. Photo: creepytings.

Graffiti isn’t just for the urban landscape anymore: a young woman named Casey Nocket has been crisscrossing our nation, leaving her mark in the form of paintings signed by her Instagram handle “creepytings” reports USA Today. In response, the National Park Service has launched a vandalism investigation since defacing or damaging national park property is a federal misdemeanor punishable by jail time.

In her travels this year, Nocket has left her unwanted graffiti art in at least 10 national parks, including Yosemite National Park in California, Crater Lake National Park in Oregon, and Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado.  Nocket has taken down her photos from Instagram. On her Tumblr, Nocket admitted “i dun fucked uuuuuuup,” while defending herself against critics she accused of “mansplaining.”

So far, the interwebs have not responded kindly to Nocket’s project, with SFist calling her a “despicable New York woman,” and Redditors collaborating with an alleged National Parks investigator to find records of her removed social media postings.

“While we can’t discuss details of a case under investigation, we take the issue of vandalism seriously. National parks exist to preserve and protect our nation’s natural, cultural and historic heritage for both current and future generations,” park service stated in a press release. “When someone carves a name or paints an image on these landscapes they diminish the resource itself and the experience park visitors are meant to enjoy when they stand in that place.”

Lest you be inclined to give Nocket the benefit of the doubt, she appears to be well aware of the potentially deleterious effects of her works on the natural landscape. When she admitted in response to a question on Instagram that she was using acrylic paint, rather than chalk, the initial commenter responded with a sad emoticon, prompting Nocket to write back “I know, I’m a bad person.”

Modern Hiker, who broke the story, hopes that the attention Nocket’s actions have attracted will ultimately have a positive effect. According to their post: “If we have more people out there who can appreciate the beauty of our wilderness for what it is, there will be fewer who feel like they literally need to leave their mark on it.”


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