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  • Cori Anderson

These Denver Elementary Schools Are Decked Out With Street Art

Updated: Nov 5, 2019

Take a moment and think about your elementary school. Do you remember seeing any art that wasn't made by your peers? For many of us who grew up in the public school system, art wasn't a priority in our education, and #streetart was a crime. Things are incrementally changing now, as organizations start to take art more seriously, like when the news broke that doctors might prescribe visits to museums. But many schools still fall desperately behind, leaving a void that is hard to justify spending money on when lunches, textbooks, and staffing is an issue. Which is what makes the organization I am focusing on today particularly special — the RAW Project from Miami.



Mural by Paola Delfin

Started by Robert de Los Rios in 2014 in Miami’s Wynwood Arts District (the US mecca for street art), the RAW Project aimed to provide art to a local school that had lost all of its artistic programmings. De Los Rios thought that if he couldn’t implement the study of art in that school himself, he could convince a bunch of street artists to paint murals for the kids, pro bono.


In an interview I conducted with him for 303 Magazine in 2017, he told me that the results from those first projects were remarkable, leading to improved attendance, increased test scores, and less bullying.


The RAW Project, which originally stood for Re-imagining the Arts Wynwood but now stands for Re-imaging the Arts Worldwide, expanded to Denver the same year I spoke to de Los Rios, three years after he first started it. It was the first time the RAW Project worked on something outside of Miami, and instead of tackling one building, three elementary schools in the Sun Valley and Villa Park neighborhoods were chosen: Fairview, Cowell, and Eagleton. Almost 30 international and Denver local artists painted murals, including huge street art stars like MTO Graff, Hoxxoh, Otto Schade and Mr. June.


It was no coincidence that the three chosen schools were situated in the lowest-income areas in the city. De Los Rios and the RAW Project organizers aim for the schools at the bottom of the financial barrel, schools that could never afford a single artist, not to mention 10 or more. They want kids who have the most obstacles in their way of success to be surrounded by inspiring and creative images every day. In some cases, the kids at the schools have the opportunity to interact with the artists who paint the murals, leading to the acknowledgment that they can become a full-time artist if they want to as well.


In 2018, the RAW Project returned to transform another school in Denver — Cheltenham Elementary on West Colfax. That time around, even bigger name street artists showed up, including Shepard Fairey and Fin DAC.


Although not everyone understands the beauty and benefits of this program, it’s one that I’ll always stand behind because I remember the lack of art in my schools and in my hometown and the dampening effect it had on most of my peers’ creativity. I sought out art in every nook and cranny of a new place I traveled to, starving for it. The RAW Project is defined by more than the murals left behind (although the murals are quite impressive on their own), it’s defined by the magnitude of the impact it has, an impact on the future.


Here’s a photo guide of most of the murals at the three elementary schools in Denver with the artists who painted them.


Cowell Elementary


In order of appearance from left to right:

Trek6

Zeus

Said Kinos

Luis Berros

Jazz Guetta

Hoxxoh

KeeVer

Amanda Valdes


Added in 2018



INO


Eagleton Elementary


In order of appearance from left to right

Anthony Garcia Sr. aka Birdseed Collective

Aholsniffglue

Paola Delfin

Mr. June

Jazz Guetta

Otto Schade

Kevin Ledo

MTO

Kai Art


Fairview Elementary


In order of appearance from left to right

Santiago Rubino

Zed1

Chad Hasegawa

So-Gnar Creative Division

Li Hill

Kai Art


Cheltenham Elementary


In order of appearance from left to right

Dale Grimshaw

Bird0

Shepard Fairey

Fin DAC & Kevin Ledo

Not pictured:

Patrick Kane McGregor




All photos are by Cori Anderson, The Street Art Network © All rights reserved

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