Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Spray Paint Fine for This Artist; 'We Chose Graffiti to Show It in a More Positive Art Form,' She Explains

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Spray Paint Fine for This Artist; 'We Chose Graffiti to Show It in a More Positive Art Form,' She Explains

Article excerpt

Byline: Teresa Stepzinski

A can of spray paint in her hand and a hot pink respirator mask at the ready, Traci Kovach got down to some serious graffiti Saturday on the walls of Andrew Robinson Elementary School.

"We're going to transform the school into a piece of art," said Kovach, who specializes in three-dimensional murals.

Led by Kovach, about 35 artists, teachers, parents and community volunteers teamed up to paint science, technology, engineering and math murals on the exterior walls of three wings of the school. With the motto, "where no opportunity is wasted," Andrew Robinson is home to a math, science and pre-engineering magnet program.

"Graffiti is prevalent in the neighborhood. I wanted to take what the kids see every day and turn it into art," said Kovach, lead artist and project director. "We chose graffiti to show it in a more positive art form that what the children are used to seeing in their neighborhood."

It's a project straight from the heart for Kovach. She is an Andrew Robinson alumna.

"They really changed my world," said the 31-year-old artist recalling her former teachers fondly. "They got me from ESE [Exceptional Student Education] to all advanced classes."

Her 5-year-old son, Bjorn, will be a kindergarten student at the school when classes resume Aug. 20.

In addition to organizing the project, Kovach is paying for it out of her own pocket. She estimated she's spent $2,000 so far on supplies.

"This school really means a lot to me. This is my way of giving back to it and the community," Kovach said.

The murals depict different aspects of the STEM theme. Kovach will create one reflecting the wonders of outer space. Infused with math equations, another will be more down to earth.

With a few strokes of her paint brush, Martha Stephens created the trunk of gnarly oak tree that will anchor a section of the mural. Within minutes the scene began to emerge: a boy reading a book at the foot of the tree as a trail of complex math equations floats about his head. The mother of eight described herself as a "canvas artist" working on her first mural.

"I'm a hobby artist and I'm excited to be involved in this project. …

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