Springfest at Brighton High School is always a ball, but this year students had the opportunity to participate in a unique art project. For approximately 3 hours, a large group of students painted a collaborative graffiti wall inspired by Keith Haring and other urban graffiti artists.
The wall started as a blank canvas 36 feet in length and 7 feet tall. The project was conceived as an outdoor activity, but a rainy day couldn't put out the fire and spirit of the Brighton High students involved. Some stayed for the duration of the event, while others came and went; many returned with their friends. Enthusiasm grew as the day went on, and at any given time more than 20 students could be seen painting away on every square inch of canvas. An appreciative audience often gathered to watch the work develop.
The imagery ranged from Anime characters and secret messages, to abstract concepts that are known only to the artists themselves. Leslee Mabee, BCSD's Director of Visual and Performing Arts, described the experience as "positively unique," and the product as "exquisite."
Developing the project was a collaborative effort of the BHS art teachers: Jed Kunz, Debra Burger, and Ann Crerand. After much discussion, bold graffiti art was adopted as the dynamic theme. The teachers researched the history of the movement and conveyed it to the participating students through a set of outsized panels hung nearby the busy graffiti artists. Click here to read the history of graffiti.
The painted walls slowly emerged as a cohesive unit that worked surprisingly well as a whole. As a student approached an area being developed by another artist, there was a sense of anticipation and collaboration between them; at this moment, self-expression was tempered by a sense of community. This quiet sense of community gave the graffiti wall a deeper purpose.
Special thanks to Stephen Monk for providing the funding required to bring this project to life.
Don't miss the photo album that accompanies this story:
story by Jed Kunz
history of graffiti compiled by Debra Burger
photos by Jim Kane