Elkhart Art League encourages graffiti to beautify city

An art form that has been around since the ancient Egyptians is going legit in Elkhart--graffiti. Vice President of the Elkhart Art League, Ellen Ridenour, said she wants to include people of all ages to encourage them to help beautify Elkhart. “I started with just a few kids that were in the park and I let them know that they could do graffiti on the walls, and they just looked at me. Finally, one kid says what’d you just say? And I said you can do graffiti on the walls. And he said for real? And I said for real,” Ridenour said.The beauty of this kind of art is that it is always evolving. “Almost every day it changes, there’s new stuff on here every day,” Ridenour said.Elkhart resident Michael Sherwood is now tagging for the first time. “It gets me to express myself more and I feel like that’s always helpful because everybody could use a little bit. Nobody’s too expressive,” Sherwood said.Ridenour said she's learned a lot about this underground and often illegal art form through this project. “There’s like a code of ethics, I found out, with graffiti art. Everybody respects everybody’s work but yet everyone knows that work is only going to be there for a very short period of time,” Ridenour said.The goal is to keep kids out of trouble and off the streets.“We don’t really have a lot of things in this town for kids that don’t have a lot of money, and this actually gives them something to do. And it makes them feel a part of the city,” Ridenour said. “I’m being able to contribute to something that could possibly change the city of Elkhart. That always makes me feel good,” Sherwood said.Ridenour said people now stop by to take pictures of the building that no one paid attention to for decades. The only rules for artists are no profanity and no gang signs. Other than that, they are free to explore their creativity!

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