When civil unrest erupted in the Twin Cities in 2020, it included University Avenue in St. Paul. Members of our Episcopal Homes community participated in and initiated public responses to the killing of George Floyd. They were out there every other Saturday for months with signs of support. Residents participated in a “Songs of Empowerment” music class about the history of protest music, including hip-hop, and engaged in a book group focused on white privilege and social change.

Creative Ventures director, Kristin Aitchison, works with residents to bring programs to the campus that are culturally relevant. Last spring Kristin reached out to Peyton Russell about teaching graffiti arts to our residents. Peyton created the now-iconic image of George Floyd at the corner of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue in Minneapolis. Peyton, a Minneapolis-based artist, has worked with graffiti art since 1984.

This intensive program will include in-studio work at SPRAYFINGER® studios. Residents will study and explore personal signatures to understand the process of graffiti writing. They will identify a nickname and create a signature for their nickname that becomes their “tag.

In late spring, the program will be on campus to create graffiti art on plywood canvases. These large graffiti panels will be publically displayed for the entire community to view. Residents, staff, families, and volunteers will be invited to events on campus to view the art, talk with the artists and have a chance to make their own tag to be displayed at Episcopal Homes.

Creative Ventures, including this graffiti art program, embodies the vitality of residents and enriches the lives of our community.

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.