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KCAI students use murals to combat graffiti at Kansas City schools

Posted at 7:18 AM, Nov 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-30 09:43:41-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A group of students have begun using art to create positive landmarks and prevent vandalism at schools on Kansas City's east side. 

Thursday, students from the Kansas City Art Institute will deliver and install murals at Whittier Elementary School. Walls around the building are covered with white paint, which often draws graffiti. 

The group already installed murals around the now-vacant Scarritt Elementary School building. For that project, art institute students teamed up with students at Northeast Middle and High schools.

"The origin of a project like this was very pragmatic: To combat graffiti. But there are a lot of benefits that come from it which is that sense of wonder, the investment of beauty and energy into a community that may have felt disregarded or had been blighted before," explained Hector Casanova, an assistant professor at the Kansas City Art Institute.

The project is a result of his class which teaches students the power and responsibility artists have in their communities. 

Students will complete installing murals in the door and window frames at Scarritt in the spring of 2018.

The installation at Whittier Elementary will continue through the end of the year and then resume at about this time next year, in 2018, when Casanova's class is back in session. 

Art Institute students said they loved working with the elementary school students to find inspiration for what the murals should include. 

"I'm really excited because the kids are excited. So, I think it is just cool to be able to do something for the kids to make them happy and be proud of their school district," explained Nina Gookin, a junior at the KC Art Institute.

Casanova said one of the most effective ways to fight graffiti is with artwork. 

Back in June, Casanova said he was disappointed, but not angry with the vandals. He doesn't know who they are, but he invited them to join the project and help paint the murals.

"And if anything, I would want those people that are attacking the building to reach out and become part of the project and to make their mark in a positive way... To actually impact the community in a way that the community would welcome," said Casanova in a June interview.

Most of the graffiti at Scarritt has been removed. Casanova is hoping the vandals hear his message and join the team.

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