MORRIS TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) — 4SAKN sees the world as his canvas. His work is found on busy train lines, abandoned buildings and bridge underpasses. For a short time, his work can be viewed at the Morris Museum.

The Jersey City-based artist also goes by Derek Rue. He and 11 other street or graffiti artists have brought their tags and art to the walls of the Morris Museum for a first of its kind exhibit titled Aerosol: Graffiti ' Street Art ' New Jersey ' Now.

"It's not like you're just at home safe at your house painting canvas," Rue said. "Anyone can paint a beautiful mural with all the time in the world, but not a lot of people can do something awesome in the span of two hours and get in and out," he said.

Will Condry, also known as KASSO, teaches the politics of graffiti at Middlebury College in Vermont and handpicked each artist. The goal was to bring grassroots art featuring both the letter-based graffiti art and the figurative, illustrative or representational street art. The chosen 12 had seven days to create a piece unique to their style. The only requirement was to create something they would normally do out in the streets.

"We wanted to capture the authenticity of it," said Ron Labaco, chief museum curator, who co-curated the project with Condry.

All of the artists are recognized veterans in the urban art scene and first started in the streets of their hometowns. Many were born and raised in the state while others have moved on to other areas for work or to establish their reputation elsewhere, returning periodically to produce something new.

Sometimes viewed as a form of vandalism, Rue said it was the one thing that kept him focused. Originally from Warren County, he remembers the opportunity his high school vice-principal gave him to showcase his talent at a young age.

"I tagged up every locker. He could've nailed me, but instead, he said clean this all up and we'll pay you to do a mural. I took that negative and made it into a positive," Rue said.

With over 20 years of experience in wildstyle or abstract graffiti, Rue continues to bomb, which is slang for painting over a large area. His work takes up the walls of California, Newark, Jersey City, Greenville and the surrounding areas. With the permission of the owner, Rue is currently working on an elaborate piece on an 85-foot by 20-foot wall in Jersey City.

"You have to love it in order to do it," added Rue.

Oftentimes regarded as a male-dominant world, Condry and Labaco featured an established female artist. For over 20 years, Philadelphia artist ACET TM7 has steadily pushed herself, her style and the community to increase the visibility of women and culturally-diverse people in the arts. Her work has been featured in group exhibitions across the country and China.

"(The artists) are committed to their art, but they are also upstanding members of the community," Labaco said.

Others like DISTORT, prefer to remain anonymous and leave their work to stand on its own. "It's an aspect of the subculture," said Labaco who hopes visitors will understand the culture and representation behind each piece.

But the work doesn't last forever. Labaco said many of the pieces you see in the streets are painted over or covered up by other artists.

"It's part of the culture to not get attached to their work," Labaco said.

While the roots of contemporary graffiti and street art may be traced to Philadelphia and New York City, the two historic centers of graffiti and street art, New Jersey’s geographical location connects both cities providing an environment for artistic expansion since the 1980s.

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