Known primarily for hosting programs and exhibits that cater to adults, the Delaware Center of the Contemporary Arts is reaching out to a younger audience.


Known primarily for hosting programs and exhibits that cater to adults, the Delaware Center of the Contemporary Arts is reaching out to a younger audience.

As an encore to its first-ever graffiti workshop held in the fall, the DCCA will host a course about graffiti on Saturday. The class, Handprint 2 Tag: Graffiti Throughout History, is designed to teach teens positive ways they can use the medium to develop their own creative voice in society, said DCCA Teaching Artist Jen Polillo.

“I think graffiti is art,” Polillo said. “I believe there should always be street art. It’s a sign of our culture and of our times.”

For the workshop, Polillo wants to experiment with the environmentally friendly moss graffiti, which literally uses moss to create art.

During last year’s program, teens were schooled on the history of graffiti, beginning with caveman art, said Polillo, adding the first graffiti illustration was performed by a caveman who painted his hand onto a cave. The caveman most likely used berry juice and saliva, or another type of pigment, to color his hand, she said.

Teens were also taught how to create graffiti stencils out of cardboard and slap tags (a form of street art that features a name or image on a sticker) from nametags.

IF YOU GO

WHAT Handprint 2 Tag: Graffiti Throughout History

WHEN 1 p.m., Saturday, March 12

WHERE Delaware Center of the Contemporary Arts,200 South Madison St., Wilmington

COST $25 members; $30 non-members

INFO www.thedcca.org

In addition, participants worked with ephemeral (or non-permanent) graffiti alternatives including chalk, Kool-Aid and bleach to design images, said Polillo, adding the teens illustrated most of their graffiti on a makeshift cardboard wall, while they performed their chalk designs on a sidewalk. The Kool-Aid and bleach illustrations were performed using spray bottles.

“I want these kids to realize you can perform graffiti in a legal and safe way,” she said.

While some argue that graffiti is an eyesore, the DCCA views the controversial medium as fine art and recognizes its potential to bring communities together, said DCCA Curator of Education Jane Chesson.

Over the years, popular graffiti artists like Philadelphia’s Steve Powers (aka Espo) have teamed up with government officials to legally paint murals in their respective cities. As a result, Chesson believes graffiti is becoming more accepted by society.

“We’re seeing so much of a change in the way graffiti is being seen in contemporary culture,” she said. “We’re really on the cusp of a really big shift.”

Considering how excited the teens were in last year’s program, Chesson said the workshop already has her pumped up.

“We’re thrilled we’re able to offer new programs for teens in the area,” she said. “We’re trying to give all kids an outlet for creativity that they can’t get anywhere else.”