One of the best parts of the DYH program is getting to learn from experts in the field and community practitioners. Recently, the DYH teens had the opportunity to speak with practicing muralist and teaching artist Christopher Paul Jordan. Born and based in Tacoma, Washington, Chris also serves as the co-director of the non-profit arts organization Fab-5. Fab-5 aims to cultivate community through urban arts education, as well as to empower youth.
Chris talked with the group about how he got started as a muralist. They were intrigued to learn that he “prefers spray paint over paint brushes!” Chris shared photographs and videos of some projects he has worked on in different countries and communities. He also talked about the power of public art, and how he tries to address critical social issues through his artwork. Finally, Chris took a look at the DYH teens’ two mural designs, giving them feedback and tips on how to achieve their desired effects.
The next day, the group headed to Burien for some real-world inspiration. They explored the length of Art Alley, which was established in 2013 by the B-Town Beat “in an attempt to transform a previously undesirable space into a treasure for the Burien community.” The teens looked closely at five murals and talked about them as a group. Participant Kelea explained, “We wrote down things we didn’t like and what we did like about the different murals. We also talked about the colors and how they went together and what we needed to think about when we come back to do our mural.” After their trip to Art Alley and visit from Chris, the teens also reflected on the role of public art in community building.