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8/15/2017 12:22:00 PM
Indianapolis author to lead street art discussion, workshop at Kokomo library
Shannon Alexander
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Shannon Alexander

Caele Pemberton, Kokomo Tribune Education Reporter

A guest speaker at the Kokomo-Howard County Public Library will discuss street art and help visitors create their own works of art.

Shannon Alexander, a young adult author in Indianapolis, will lead a discussion and demonstration of street art at the KHCPL’s main branch. The event is part of the library’s programming related to “Haight Street Rat,” a piece by the anonymous street artist Banksy on display at the library through Sept. 15. 

The Banksy piece’s owner, Brian Greif, wanted places that showed it to create programming related to street art, and he said he was impressed with the library’s dedication to that goal. Lisa Fipps, director of marketing and community engagement for the KCHPL, said she knew right away Alexander would be a great guest speaker.

Fipps and Alexander are both part of a group of young adult writers who give each other feedback about manuscripts. Alexander said Fipps is one of the few people to have a first draft of Alexander’s new novel in progress. Alexander, who has written and published two young adult novels, is working on a third focusing on a young boy who discovers a love for street art.

Alexander didn’t know much about street art before she started writing the book, but during her writing she started researching the art form and the artists behind it.

“[I was interested in street art] maybe just in passing,” she said. “I would see it and think it was interesting, but it was just, I didn’t think much about street art. I certainly didn’t think about the artist behind the pieces very much.”

As she started researching street art, she realized she enjoyed it.

“I loved what I’ve discovered,” she said. “Their creativity and their ability to look at the world that I previously would just walk by and see something – it’s just a blank walk, a crack in the sidewalk. There are street artists that can take a crack in the sidewalk and turn it into an amazing, mind-blowing piece of art. I fell in love with the whole movement, really.”

During her workshop at the Kokomo-Howard County Public Library, Alexander will discuss some of the terminology related to street art and she’ll lead people through different projects using spray chalk; she said she wanted to stray away from actual spray paint to avoid leaving permanent marks to the library.

Though she’s made several art pieces at her home, Alexander hasn’t yet experimented with street art outside of her own property.

“I’m a big rule follower,” she said. “Which is why I’m fascinated by these people, but it’s also the people that kind of terrify you that also fascinate you. … There’s a real fine line between graffiti, street art and just plain vandalism.”

She hopes to get permission to do projects outside of her home, and she said that’s part of the reason she was eager to lead the workshop at the library.

“Getting to play at the library is exciting to me,” she said. “I’m being given to permission to play with [graffiti].”

She added that she hopes people of all ages will consider attending her workshop on Saturday, Aug. 19. The event will take place at the KHCPL’s main branch at 220 N. Main Street in downtown Kokomo from 2 to 4 p.m. It is free, but participants need to register ahead of time, either by calling 765-626-0807, emailing lfipps@khcpl.org or on the KHCPL’s website.

“I hope, too, that they’ll feel very comfortable coming and saying ‘I’m not an artist.’ Shannon Lee Alexander is not a visual artist," she said. "I’m not a street artist – yet. But it’s OK to come and play and make beautiful messes and create and see what happens.”

Related Stories:
• Visitors respond as Banksy artwork is unveiled at downtown Kokomo library
• Another Kokomo first: Banksy artwork, owner arrive at library

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