FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — The Graffiti Feeds project is where youth and families can restore and beautify local areas.
“When you see these taggings, it’s someone saying do you see me. Do you hear me, or I need help or just recognize me?” said Lakisha Bradley.
Bradley is the founder of the Graffiti Feeds project and MY-T-BY-DESIGN. Their mission is to help individuals see their value and know their worth. They do this through creative artistic outlets in their studio or out in the community.
Bradley says restoring the murals also helps restore the individual through providing career workforce development skill sets. She says the teens are able to work with the muralist to learn how they can turn painting murals into a career.
“Also, how are we giving hope and conversation pieces to the community to give someone that may feel hopeless a spark in their life to say you know what, I can make it, today is going to be a good day,” she said.
They started their project by restoring the mural that reads, "love unites us" that’s located on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in Fayetteville. It was painted by local artist, Olivia Trimble and has been vandalized with graffiti several times over the years.
Bradley hopes one day that whoever is doing the vandalizing will link up to them.
“One, let’s talk through where did this stem from, you know why and be able to connect and build relationships that truly show the example of loving your neighbor,” she said.
The Fayetteville Police Department says it started seeing a spike in graffiti around the city during the coronavirus pandemic when schools went remote. In 2020 there was a 14% increase in the specific crime and from December 2020 to now it’s up 19%.
Sergeant Tony Murphy was at the Graffiti Feeds project and says when they got there the mural was in pretty bad shape, but it was beautiful again by the time they left.
“Listening to the adults in that program coach those kids, was kind of heartwarming to see those kids take that information and hopefully they pay that forward in their lives and it has a good impact,” he said.
The next Graffiti Feeds project will be painting the other side of the same building where police painted over graffiti a while back. They hope to start this project after the holidays.