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Urban culture class lets Mercer students learn from a professional graffiti artist

By KERRY STEINHOFER

kerry.steinhofer@amnews.com

Mercer County High School students got the chance to work with professional graffiti artist Dani Greene Friday at the school.

Teacher Chloe Wilcher leads the new elective class American Urban Culture Studies.

This is the first year for the class. Currently they are studying the urban art of graffiti and why it’s important.

“This is a brand new experience for everybody, and I’m having an absolute blast experimenting,” Wilcher said.

She met Greene through a friend and asked her to come and teach the students a little bit more about graffiti.

Greene is from Lexington, where she is a professional graffiti artist and has painted several murals in the area.

“This is my everyday job,” she said. “It’s not just for fun, and it took a long way for me to get paid to do this in order to pay my bills.”

Greene said she is from the streets and knows a lot of gang members. She has been tagging trains and highway signs since she was 10 years old. She was first arrested when she was 14 years old, she said.

The last time she was arrested for tagging, she was asked to paint a mural for the community as an act of community service, she said.

Greene has been creating graffiti professionally since. She said she doesn’t have a degree in art, only a high school diploma and some college general education classes under her belt.

“It’s really about how good you are, not about your credentials,” she said.

So far, the class has been working on graffiti with markers and colored pencils on paper, but students from the urban culture class and an AP art class were able to participate in spray painting graffiti art on plywood.

“I’m here to teach these kids about some graffiti,” Greene said. “There’s a good way and a bad way to go about it. I just want to be able to teach them how to do things that the urban culture can appreciate.”

Greene had the students take the first letter of their name and create graffiti art with it. She made it a competition for the students and told them that whoever could impress her the most with their work would win a $25 cash prize.

“It’s actually a really great experience,” MCHS student Aleeah Rawlings said, who placed second in the competition. She said if she wasn’t already set on going to college for nursing, she would actually enjoy doing this for a living.

Greene said it’s really cool that these students have an urban culture class in high school, as she never had that privilege.

“I think it would be fun if we did this more often and had [Greene] come in and do this again,” Rawlings said.