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Young graffiti artists use paper, not underpasses and buildings

July 27, 2010|By JENNIFER FITCH
  • Ben Doyka, 11, of St. Thomas, and Megan Bard, 11, of Chambersburg, participate in Arts Express Tuesday as part of a free program offered by the Council for the Arts in Chambersburg.
Kelly Hahn Johnson, Staff Photographer

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- Almost 20 children expressed themselves in graffiti Tuesday, but no one got in trouble.

Instead, the youngsters were praised for their designs and "tags" that showed their individuality. They were producing the art on paper, rather than underpasses and buildings, as part of a free program offered by the Council for the Arts in Chambersburg.

"It's fun -- very, very, very fun," said 9-year-old Diego Villalobos.

The council's Arts Express program visited the Coyle Free Library weekly in June and July. Tuesday's class was the final one in the series, which included lessons about percussion, Native American painting and dance.

The Arts Express program also provided guest teachers and lessons for other summer camps, such as the Boys & Girls Club and Lincoln Intermediate Unit. The Council for the Arts' own camp will be next week.

Evening programs are held in the spring and fall.

"We're really touching kids that otherwise might not be exposed to the arts," said Merissa Vevasis, an artist teaching at camps this week.

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Vevasis taught students about Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Harring, both of whom got their starts as graffiti artists. As the children worked with various materials, she walked around the room to rave about each creation and give general instructions.

"Why do we sign and date it?" Vevasis asked the class.

"For when it's worth a million dollars," one boy answered quickly.

Sisters Madelyn and Olivia Woolf started by using markers to turn their names into designs.

"I just want to be spontaneous with my name," Madelyn, 10, said of her technique.

The girl layered the letters on top of each other in what she said was her favorite class from the Arts Express series.

"I love seeing how people put murals on walls," she said.

The children were perhaps less angst-ridden than the people spraying graffiti in public. Common designs involved kittens, peace signs, hearts and polka dots. And words sprawled across the pages included "Friendship" and "Live, Laugh, Love."

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