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Taking Graffiti Art To Schools

Last update: 08/06/2012
By Kurniawati Kamarudin

KUALA LUMPUR, June 8 (Bernama) -- To have one's work of art featured on school walls and dedicated to teachers and the coming generation of students is definitely a proud achievement for the creators of art.

It is even more important when the creators' ideas and creativity are given recognition.

In the case of 10 form-five students of Sekolah Menengah Perempuan Asunta in Petaling Jaya, the graffiti on the walls of their school's art gallery building literally highlights what students can achieve if they are given the right guidance.

POSITIVE SURROUNDINGS IN SCHOOL

Sekolah Menengah (P) Asunta emerged champions in their first attempt to participate in the graffiti art competition entitled 'Gempaknya My School' recently organised by Bumblebee Consultancy in collaboration with Sony Malaysia.

The winners walked away with Z-series Sony Walkman units worth RM1,499 in all.

The school also had the honour of being the only all-girls school out of the eight schools that took part in the graffiti art competition themed 'Sony Memuaskan Citarasa Semua' (Sony Fulfils Everyone's Aspirations).

The project director of 'Gempaknya My School,' Christine Ngh, noted that the graffiti art drawing competition was held to expose the positive side of graffiti and to foster closer ties between the school and its students.

"It is also to help students build up their self-confidence, including their leadership and communication capabilities, through group work," she explained.

A study conducted on the eight schools participating in the competition indicated that 68 percent of participants believed that the graffiti art had created a more positive and conducive environment.

"A total of 71 percent agreed that the programme should be held more frequently," she said, adding that the programme would act as a starting point to increase the students' creativity in the field of arts.

LOVE FOR GRAFFITI ART

After creating graffiti by spraying paint on the wall, Nor Fatin Nabila Rosli, 17 - who had done so for the first time in her life - began to see graffiti in a different light.

Nor Fatin, who had never seen graffiti art prior to this, said that it was a highly exciting experience, especially because it gave her the opportunity to work with Bone Alfie, one of the country's leading graffiti artists.

"Very interesting ... it is a new experience altogether, which will be permanently etched in my mind," she exclaimed.

Although Nor Fatin did not find it an easy task, as she had never worked with spray paint before, everything went well, thanks to the group effort.

She added that Bone Alfie, who served as the group's mentor, had provided guidance throughout.

"It took us a day to create the art. We put our heads together in coming up with the idea before transferring it to the wall," she said.

Nor Fatin is happy that her school had won the first prize, and she plans to delve deeper into graffiti art after completing her schooling.

Meanwhile, the teacher who accompanied the team, Datin Sailaja Ramachandran Menon, noted that exposing children to graffiti art opens up an avenue for them to get acquainted with the different creative arts.

"In school, they are merely exposed to basic drawing, but after working with those in the know, their minds can open up to delve further into creative arts like graffiti," she observed.

She added that while not all students do well academically, the exposure to graffiti could inspire them to take up the creative arts after they complete their schooling.

SUPPORT FROM SCHOOLS

Since it involves expressing one's feelings through writing and drawing on walls or other surfaces, graffiti art - which was once regarded as the work of vandals - is now seen as creative work with high aesthetic value.

According to Bone Alfie, who has been a graffiti artist for the last six years, exposing students to the art helps to correct their perception regarding graffiti.

"I was among the students who were more inclined towards creativity than towards academic subjects. My interest started right from school; however, I did not have much exposure.

"Starting with mural drawings, I delved deeper into graffiti art through the Internet and reading. I tried applying it, shared it with friends and now it is my career," he remarked.

Bone Alfie shared all his experiences with the students to help them understand graffiti better and avoid using the art for vandalism.

"There are students who have the flair. Just teach them once and they are ready to continue on their own. With the support of the teachers, more talents can be unearthed.

"I'm confident that given the opportunity, more youngsters will take up graffiti art, and the public will open their minds towards this art form as well," he asserted.

GRAFFITI AS A CAREER

At present, there are around 100 individuals and groups actively pursuing graffiti art in the country, and their numbers are set to rise, thanks to the encouragement of the authorities, including the Kuala Lumpur City Council (DBKL).

The walls along Sungai Klang near the Pasar Seni LRT station are some of the areas that are reserved for the works of graffiti artists. In addition, numerous platforms are being created, such as exhibitions and graffiti art competitions, to unearth new talents.

"The graffiti works openly displayed on the walls indicate their owners' creativity. These are also part of the efforts to introduce Malaysia to graffiti artists from all over the world," he pointed out.

Regarding the graffiti artist's future, Bone noted that since the art form is increasingly being accepted by the society, educational institutions and corporations, graffiti art is now seen as equal to other art forms.

"Many of the corporations have utilised the services of graffiti artists for branding, advertisements and other programmes that provide a source of income for graffiti artists," Bone explained, adding that those who take up graffiti art seriously can earn a lot.

Graffiti artists should have focus and be able to highlight their works brilliantly to expose their innate talents. In addition, they should diversify their capabilities and be able to draw not only on walls but also on other surfaces, such as shoes.

"There is no limit to graffiti art as long as one is creative, hardworking and knows how to market one's work," Bone Alfie concluded.

-- BERNAMA