The graffiti mural is eye-catching. The 15-foot by 84-foot spray-painted artwork, inside the W.E. Greiner Exploratory Arts Academy and Middle School, includes detailed images of dancers, guitarists and a sculpture. The wall painting is by graffiti artists as part of a project by The Friends of Greiner organization. Friends of Greiner contacted and hired the graffiti artists who created the mural. In addition to facilitating the mural, Friends of Greiner is sponsoring an after-school graffiti club to teach the students at the school about the history of graffiti, and show them how to produce the art.
Sean Bone is one of the graffiti artists who painted the mural and also helps educate the students in the after-school club. Bone believes that it is important for kids to be taught to produce graffiti in a legal and respectable manner. “Graffiti as a foundation has been here since the 70s, and it should be respected,” said Bone.
The Friends of Greiner organization teamed up with Dallas graffiti artists in August in a mission to encourage future generations of graffiti artists to be creative and not destructive through different school projects. Rebecca Ordinario and Susan Nurre formed the non-profit organization last year after concern about budget cuts to Greiner’s signature art program. “The organization provides private support to the arts magnet of the school,” said Nurre.
Ordinario and Nurre, both parents to students at Greiner, are extremely dedicated to Greiner’s art program and the students. They are constantly looking for ways to make the students feel important. Ordinario attended the Trinity River Wind Festival last spring. She was impressed by the work of graffiti artists there and began to think of ways she could integrate their talent with the students of Greiner.
The Trinity Wind Festival served as an experiment to see how the city and graffiti artists could co-operate. For the festival, the Dallas Police Department reached out to graffiti artists and provided four piers for them to paint and show off their talent. The DPD and graffiti artists are now working together to keep graffiti off buildings and property by giving artists safe outlets to showcase their creativity without fear of punishment by the DPD. The artists, who once were run off by the police, are now channeling their energy and passion for graffiti into legal mural projects.
After Ordinario saw the art on the piers, she tracked the artists down and offered them a chance to paint a wall at the Greiner School. “It’s important for people to look beyond that it’s just something on a wall. You need to look at the detail, the amount of colors and how they can make things look 3D. It’s truly an art form, people need to see their talent,” said Ordinario.
Ordinario saw an opportunity for the artists to show off their talent and create something that the students would be proud to have at their school. Artists Eder Martinez, Kirk Garnett, Tony Slowmo, Jesse Alarcon and Bone agreed to paint the wall at the Greiner School. “We can’t eliminate graffiti, instead we have to focus the energy in a positive direction,” said Bone.
“It’s important to teach the kids that there is a constructive way for them to channel their creative energy,” said Bone. The club will not only serve as an outlet for kids to create art and learn about the history of graffiti, but it will also provide them with role-models. The artists who painted the murals agreed to help with the graffiti club. In order to join the club, students have to submit an art piece with one of the following themes: going green, school spirit, favorite moment in history or a graffiti piece, and three sentences on why they are interested in the club. “We got an overwhelming response from the students,” said Brittany Harrison, the community liaison at the Greiner Arts Academy and Middle School.
At the end of the year, members of the after-school graffiti club will have expressed themselves through graffiti in a legal manner by painting walls of the Greiner School. They will have learned the history and foundation of graffiti. They will also have been led by graffiti artists to view graffiti as an art form in opposition to vandalism. “We want to lead by example and do something positive,” said Bone. “It’s exciting to see all this develop. First to find the artists, make the mural and then to develop an after-school graffiti club,” said Nurre.