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This article was published 3/10/2016 (1105 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A local director is in awe at the positive effect Graffiti Art Programming Inc. (Graffiti Gallery) has had on local youth.
When Jorge Requena Ramos, a director at Prairie Boy Productions, started working with some of the Graffiti Gallery youth he was impressed by the way the organization positively changed their lives through artistic stimulation.
With the support of MTS Stories From Home program, Requena Ramos was able to produce Graffiti Stories, a documentary about the voice and confidence Graffiti Gallery has given inner-city youth told through the eyes of Winnipeg radio host Ismaila Alfa.
"The creation of the gallery also outlines a different generation of kids that were the first generation of graffiti artists in Winnipeg," Requena Ramos said. "And Stephen (Wilson, Graffiti Programming Arts Inc. executive director) grabbed and turned them from criminals — people who were illegally drawing on walls — to a formal gallery that was bringing people from all over the world."
Graffiti Gallery has provided new artists an opportunity to learn from experienced artists from around the world through free workshops and programs.
Osani Balkaran, known as The O.B., is a young rapper that started his career at Graffiti Gallery. He is one of the artists featured in the movie.
"For a long time in Winnipeg, I guess people thought young people were the problem, that graffiti was the problem. And I really don’t think that was the problem. I think that was the solution and it’s really evident to see in that video," he said.
Requena Ramos said the tools these artists gain from learning at the gallery go beyond just the art. They taught the artists that they could be disciplined enough to achieve a goal.
"Graffiti Gallery is almost an alternative way of education because the way they teach, they really push you to make a song, and they teach you about rhythm," Osani said. "It’s not just people who have gone to university for rap; it’s people who have been through it, people who started making a living off of rap and music, and dance and whatnot. It’s really good to have mentors."
Requena Ramos, who is originally from Mexico City and now lives in Winnipeg, said he realized inner-city kids can be completely ignored.
"We can take that for granted because it never happens to us, but it happens to these kids every day. Graffiti Gallery is a place where they can go, and no matter what, they will be accepted there. They do not judge," Requena Ramos said.
"Art can help you become a good person, somebody that is employable and all these other things that every parent wants for their kids. We encourage parents to watch this movie."
Graffiti Stories is on sale for $15 at Graffiti Gallery and their events. All profits go toward funding supporting their programs and events.
Community journalist — The Times
Ligia Braidotti is the community journalist for The Times. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org