Last week, the city of Des Moines made headlines by painting over a mural created by area teens after it was reported as graffiti. RunDSM, the program that curates the project, has reached an agreement with the city to re-paint the art and expedite the permit needed to ensure the mural isn’t mistaken for vandalism again.
Emily Lang, co-founder of RunDSM, says she's working with the city to obtain more space for student art moving forward.
"We are able to redo the portion of the mural that was erased, but we want to continue to get approval for the wall," she says.
"I think graffiti is such a culturally relevant art form that is often recognized in the public school setting. The word graffiti carries a negative connotation, but it's simply a style of art. We view this as a way for students to have a safe and legal space to practice their craft."
During this Talk of Iowa interview, host Charity Nebbe talks with Lang and her co-founder Kristopher Rollins about the mistake and about their youth arts program as a whole.
Rollins says he's glad they've reached an agreement with the city because the mural has meant a lot to his students.
"Some students started crying. Some students were very angry, and some were very upset. Some were very confused, and they didn't understand how someone could see that work and think it was being done illegally. A lot of them really didn't understand what happened when we first told them it was erased," he says.
The graffiti workshop that allows the students to paint the mural is just one part of RunDSM, which also hosts spoken word poetry workshops, dj-ing workshops and break dancing classes.
During this Talk of Iowa conversation, Julio Delgadillo also joins the conversation. He’s a part of the spoken word poetry team and will be competing in a teen poetry contest this summer through RunDSM.