Maries R-2 high school student’s participate in graffiti art project

By Roxie Murphy, Staff Writer
Posted 1/19/23

BELLE — A Maries County R-2 student art class participated in a graffiti lesson Jan. 11 on the corner of Oak Avenue and Fourth Street after a property owner offered their unused mobile home as …

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Maries R-2 high school student’s participate in graffiti art project

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BELLE — A Maries County R-2 student art class participated in a graffiti lesson Jan. 11 on the corner of Oak Avenue and Fourth Street after a property owner offered their unused mobile home as a canvas.

Property owner Elaine Lemons said the topic came up with the Belle High School art teacher in October 2022 during her son’s parent-teacher conferences.

“When (art teacher Cody Walker) said he was doing a graffiti lesson, I offered up the trailer as a pallet because it already looks like crap and we planned on painting it,” Lemons said. “I figured let them trash it before we repaint it.”

She went through the process of checking in with the city before students brought spray paint cans and said Mayor Daryl White, Jr., informed her the city could not control how she painted her property.

White commented on the project.

“There isn’t a law against them painting graffiti on her property,” White said. “I looked into it and it says we can’t allow any four-letter worlds, that falls into a different class. I would like to see a sign put up to say it is an art class. It was an educational thing the way she explained it to me. It is also private property and out of the city’s scope.”

White reiterated that the educational project through the school was done with the landowner’s permission.

“There are very famous graffiti people and graffiti that has sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars,” White said. “It is an art form and it is not my job to not allow that.”

Lemon’s purchased the property in November 2021 and has been using it as storage.

Superintendent Dr. Lenice Basham said on Friday that the project is not complete and that the weather prevented students from moving to the next phase. She recommended visiting the art teacher for more information.

The art class practiced writing with spray paint, covering almost every inch of the trailer. A large space at the top reads, “Love Thy Neighbor” in pink paint. Originally some political views, shared and preapproved by the property owner, were also included. However, at the district’s direction, they were painted over.

Lemons posted on Facebook to say the artwork isn’t what she had in mind, and she isn’t sure when the art class is planning phase two.

“I haven’t fully discussed with the art teacher about the next go around,” Lemons said. “I don’t know if it would be this year.”

One neighbor has been very vocal against the project, going so far as to put a sign in her front yard implying her neighbor’s name on it, protesting items that Lemons has on her property.

“I would like to let everything die down with the neighbor,” Lemons said about phase two of the project. “We have an idea, I don’t know if the art class can do what we want to do. Nothing to do with graffiti. Better than graffiti. Real artwork.”

Lemons said she and her fiance plan to paint over the artwork, but due to the weather, she isn’t sure when it will happen.

Editors Note:  This story has been updated.

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