At the fourth annual Keene State College Harvest Festival, The KSC Art Collective brought something new to the festivities.
Around noon on Sunday, Oct. 16, Art Collective President Sean Bowes drove his red pickup truck to the volleyball courts next to Oya Hill and started unloading 8’x4’ sheets of plywood to create a spray paint wall. Bowes and Art Collective Vice President Erin Mannle began setting up the wall as bands played in the background and KSC graduate Johnny Bolster peddled along on his homemade apple cider press.
Bowes and Mannle built the wall and hoisted it up as an A-Frame so that participants could spray paint the inner walls of the plywood as well as the outside.
To signify the completion, Bowes shook up a couple cans of paint and sprayed “Paint Me” in giant letters across the wall. By that time, there were already a number of students flocking to the cans of paint.
Some attendees used stencils to tag and transfer their art onto the wall while others free-handed faces, initials, and various symbols. Mannle, showcasing pride for her home state, sprayed the N.H. motto “Live Free or Die” towards the bottom of one of the sides.
[singlepic id=528 w=320 h=240 float=right]
18-year-old Al Honsinger traveled from Agawam, M.A., to see the performance of his friends’ band, The Big Sway.
And when he got to the festival, he explained while shaking a can of paint, he was excited to see there was a graffiti wall. The event, in Bowes’ mind, was a great success.
“I think the turnout was great, and before I could even write ‘Paint Me’ on the wall there was 10 people there to get started,” he said.
After an Art Collective meeting earlier this semester, Bowes said he came up with the idea for the spray paint event.
The event was supposed to be earlier in the month, he said, but after scheduling conflicts, he envisioned Harvest Fest as the perfect venue for the graffiti wall.
“We thought Harvest Fest would be most accessible to the most amount of people,” he said. “We always like to bring a fun, artistic atmosphere to these events and it helps create a better energy.”
At some of the meetings, Bowes said there had been a booming interest in street art. From there, he explained, “We figured it would be a fun thing to do because most of the time there’s not a legal way to do [street art].”
20-year-old Keene resident Jacob Corley agreed. “It’s a place for everyone to express themselves legally through the art of graffiti without defacing public property,” he said while painting the ohm symbol, a marking for peace.
Throughout the afternoon and into the evening on Sunday, as the sun set and every last can of spray paint was dry as a bone, there wasn’t one profane painting anywhere on the eight-foot wall.
Instead, students and people who flocked to Keene for the event spent their artistic energy on positive art.
Bowes explained he is in the process of proposing the idea of creating a permanent and free graffiti wall on campus.
While he said he understands possible hesitation for such an endeavor at Keene State due to recent racist graffiti in bathroom stalls all across campus, Bowes expects a school-run graffiti wall to diminish occurrences of illicit street art.
“Hopefully it would reduce the amount of graffiti on campus because students would be given an outlet,” he explained. “And we certainly don’t advocate illegal graffiti,” Bowes laughed.
KSC Art Collective meetings are in the third-floor lobby of the Redfern Arts Center at 8:30 on Monday evenings.
A future event for the Art Collective is happening on Friday the 21. They will be doing a steam roller print in the back of the Media Arts Center at three in the afternoon. All are welcomed to attend.
Aaron Mitta can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org