Craig McClintock, director of Operation Stitches, said the nonprofit group had just moved into the small warehouse at Calvary Cathedral International church's complex when graffiti appeared in the spring.RELATED: Texas program aims to use art to prevent graffiti
Since the warehouse faces Interstate 35W near the Yucca Avenue/Northside Drive exit, he joked with police that he should leave a sketch of what artwork he wanted on the building so the taggers could do it when they returned.
That's when police connected him with the Fort Worth Urban Art Academy, a group of art teachers and students who have done murals for businesses plagued by graffiti.
"Instead of getting all mad and frustrated about what these taggers were doing, it was an opportunity for us," McClintock said. "Good things are happening where we can reach out to give these kids an avenue to express themselves."
The art academy is made up of students from Carter-Riverside, Diamond Hill-Jarvis and North Side high schools. The mural efforts are part of the academy's W.A.L. project, short for We Are Legal.
Carter-Riverside art teacher Mary Boswell said some students involved have done graffiti in the past and had to sign an oath to no longer deface property. The students have learned that there are legal ways to do their art, she said.
"This gives the students some ownership of their artwork and a sense of pride," she said.
Boswell said the murals help prevent graffiti problems because taggers respect the artwork.
A south Fort Worth convenience store tagged by dueling gangs hasn't had such graffiti since the student mural went up last summer, Boswell said.
Saturday, August 21, 2010
Invited murals as graffiti prophylactic
In Fort Worth, police are referring graffiti victims to an "urban art academy" whose students, who include some ex-taggers, paint murals as a prophylactic against unwanted tagging, reports the Fort Worth Star-Telegram ("Fort Worth group finds creative way to fight graffiti," Aug. 20):