Graffiti mural makes a statement

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Photo by Katie Markert

The graffiti mural can be found near the art hallway next to the Pepsi vending machine. Created by JoJo at the Da Vinci Fest, the mural has been admired by many students.

Scrawled under bridges, composed on bathroom walls and illustrated on idle train cars, graffiti is often regarded as nothing but teenage kids with a spray can. Recently however, graffiti has made its debut in the  hallways, not as vandalism, but as art.

The artist, a man that goes simply by JoJo, created the piece at the Da Vinci Fest as students, parents and other observers looked on. It was purchased by a group at Jeans and Jewels, an event that the Partnership Plan hosts, and then was donated to the high school to be put on display.

“My inspiration behind the mural was to create a unique piece of graffiti artwork titled ‘ART’ to showcase the fine-art skills needed to create something like that. I wanted the kids from the Art and Science festival to be able to experience and see first hand what it takes to create something like that and the scale of it. The greatest accomplishment that the mural could have done is inspire them to create their own art without boundaries and limitations as to what ‘real’ or ‘accomplished’ art or an artists may look like. They don’t have to fit in any particular box that a lot of art institutions try to sell kids on. Also, that there is real opportunities for kids to make a living doing graffiti art as a potential business,” said JoJo.

“My inspiration behind the mural was to create a unique piece of graffiti artwork titled ‘ART’ to showcase the fine-art skills needed to create something like that. ”

— JoJo

Vibrant yellow changes to a not so subtle orange and then to a fiery red on this gigantic masterpiece. Mounted on the wall just outside the art hallway the mural is massive and can best be described as bold.

JoJo said, “Graffiti art was built off of the idea that anyone can be someone if they work real hard and put forth the effort. It can give a voice to the voiceless and is not restricted to museums, higher-learning institutions and private galleries. It is meant for everyone to be amazed and intrigued by the images that are created. It is colorful and vibrant. The idea that letters can be beautiful by themselves is an ancient practice now modernized. We all write letters every day, as graffiti artists, we just took those simple letters and made them art, like calligraphy. ”

The jagged edges of the letters that spell art paired with the whimsical design make for an all around intriguing piece.

“I chose the word ‘Art’ Because it appeals to everyone,” said JoJo. “Originally, the idea was that the piece was going to be up for sale. I had to come up with a word that would fit the parameters of the wall and be desired and understood by a general audience. Plus, it just seemed to fit with the theme of the event. Other words considered were ‘Love’, ‘Ponies’ and ‘StillH20’.”

Not only do the colors and shapes add to the ‘personality’ of the artwork, but also the message displayed on the top of the mural stating: God of Love.

“I use the God of Love stencil in the corner as a type of signature or logo for my current business called Murals by Eros. Eros is the Greek God of love and is something I tend to use in my commercial work. It’s easily recognizable and is on display on a lot of work I’ve done for ad agencies and major corporations. It can even be seen at the new Hotel Radisson Blu at the Mall of America. Located in the coatroom, behind the God of Love stencil signature, is a full scale mural,” said JoJo.

As for the impact on people who see it, JoJo realizes that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.

“I don’t seek to draw an emotion from a person as most art does. If it inspires, that is enough for me. It’s not intended for everyone to love it and draw a particular emotion from it. That’s why a lot of people can’t understand it,” he said. “The best way to appreciate it is to try it for yourself. It’s a lot harder than it looks and takes many, many years to master.”

That being said, he hopes that young people can draw inspiration from him and his work to do something that speaks to them.

“I didn’t know that it was going to be hung in the school but I love that idea and hope that in its location it inspires creativity. I feel very honored and hope that it inspires the students that see it daily to challenge themselves and the art they create,” said JoJo. “Graffiti art really speaks to the youth of today and is what I would consider, the ‘Art’ of their generation. I’m very thankful for the opportunity. It really means a lot to me and is an inspiration to me as well.”