The Museum of Public Art, Baton Rouge, LA

Downtown Baton Rouge is coming alive one wall at a time as the result of a new economic development effort that is using murals and public art as a tool for encouraging visitors to the central business district. Calling the effort, "organically grown," organizers have declared that by joining artistic forces with business owners, the renaissance of downtown Baton Rouge will be spurred. This project was organized by Kevin Harris and The Museum of Public Art.

Andover, MA, Phillips Academy

A member of the “second generation” of New York graffiti artists, Chris Ellis—best known by his street name, Daze—has been hailed as one of the most important ‘writers’ of his time. Turning his focus to canvas in the early 1980s, Daze has been one of the most successful graffiti artists of his generation to transition from street to studio. This spring, he has been serving as the Edward E. Elson Artist-in-Residence at the Addison Gallery of American Art, where his work will be on view through July 31 in the exhibition Street Talk: Chris Daze Ellis in Dialogue with the Collection.

For his residency, Daze began working with Eric Allshouse’s mural class at Lawrence High School on March 31, beginning with a visit to the students’ classroom to introduce himself and share his work. He discussed growing up in New York City and learning about art from his peers as well as his instructors at the High School for Arts and Design. The group then moved to the Artist’s Studio on the Abbot campus at Phillips Academy, where, with Daze’s guidance, they began brainstorming ideas for their paintings, with Daze sharing a variety of images of works from the Addison’s collection and the students researching images of Lawrence. Since then, groups of students have worked collaboratively to capture the essence of Lawrence in their paintings, including imagery of Lawrence’s rich architectural history. The four canvases will be on view in the exhibition Street Talk.

Daze has also been working with Emily Trespas’ painting class and Therese Zemlin’s advanced studio art class at Phillips Academy. Over a series of class periods, Daze and the painting students have transformed the wall in the Elson Art Center outside the Addison’s Museum Learning Center with a mural depicting scenes of life at Phillips Academy. Under Daze’s expert tutelage, students had a lively discussion of the imagery to include, drew the outline for their mural, and engaged in a series of energizing and truly collaborative painting sessions set to music. With the mural finished, Daze has now joined the advanced studio art students in creating a painting that will be featured in the spring student art show in Gelb Gallery.

Quito, Ecuador

smARTpower, an initiative of the Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, administered by The Bronx Museum of the Arts, sends 15 U.S. artists abroad to work with local artists and young people around the world to create community-based art projects. Selected artists design and implement programs within a 45 day period in cooperation with local arts organizations in China, Ecuador, Egypt, Ghana, India, Kosovo, Lebanon, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Turkey, and Venezuela.

smARTpower artists are strongly encouraged to create a tangible legacy of the work, to remain in country, through a variety of visual arts media, including painting, sculpture, drawing, video, installation, photo-based work, public art, and interdisciplinary projects. Projects emphasize participatory work and address a full range of relevant subjects including, but not limited to, women's empowerment, the environment, health, education, and civic engagement.

smARTpower builds on U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's vision of "smart power" diplomacy, which embraces the use of a full range of diplomatic tools - in this case the visual arts - to bring people together and foster greater understanding. The smARTpower initiative is an integral part of the United States' people-to-people diplomacy efforts that engage people, especially underserved youth, and create opportunities for dialogue that build a foundation for greater understanding among people of all cultures, communities, and countries.

Video can be viewed here.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

In 2004 I was privileged to be invited to the Super Mercado de Hip Hop fro various lectures and workshops. The series of events was sponsored by the American Consulado Geral and CUFA, for the Hutuz Festival. This photo is of me doing a painting workshop and demonstration in the favela Acari. 

Photo by © Henry Chalfant.

Kruezlingen, Switzerland

In 2001 Christian Schneeburger and the city council of Kruezlingen invited me to do a youth workshop with the kids from the urban art project. I wasn't sure how this project would be received, but I had no problem finding kids to enthusiastically participate. Th murals were a big success and to my knowledge still exist.