By Emily Klingman
Something new has brightened up the walls of the sociology hallway on the second floor of Fine Arts this semester.
During last semester’s ArtBeast, the annual festival held by the Arts Administration Association, the Sociology Club brought in two graffiti artists from Trenton, Will “KASSO” Condry and Leon Rainbow, to host a graffiti writing workshop for students.
“Rider students got to practice doing graffiti lettering,” said James Dickinson, a sociology professor at Rider, “and then KASSO and Leon did a demonstration mural. That’s what’s on the wall.”
The five panels contain art from KASSO, Leon, and a mix of the two artists and the students’ art from the workshop at the festival.
“When the students were done with whatever they were doing — it’s amazing — [Condry and Rainbow] went around and fixed them up. They brought together all this mess,” said Dickinson.
According to Victor Thompson, sociology professor and adviser to the Sociology Club, students enjoy the colors that the panels bring to this corner of Fine Arts..
“I hear a lot of students say they like it,” said Thompson. “It’s funny, I’ve noticed — I don’t know if it’s true or not — but I’ve noticed more students hanging out in that hallway now than before it was there.”
In regards to getting the panels on the wall, Thompson said it wasn’t too difficult.
“I asked Dean Pat Mosto, ‘Do you mind if we put these up in the hallway?’ and she said, ‘That’s a great idea.’ So we did it,” said Thompson. “She loved the idea.”
Dickinson said the Sociology Club wants to keep on sponsoring the workshop at Art Beast.
“It’s been popular because kids get to try out how to do the balloon lettering or the 3D styles,” said Dickinson. “It’s the Sociology Club’s contribution to Art Beast and we hope to continue each year.”
Both Condry and Rainbow are a part of the Sage Coalition, based in Trenton. These artists help revitalize the community through murals and street art. Trenton has become a vibrant home to many different graffiti styles.
“Trenton has developed a rich tradition in the last few years of graffiti murals,” said Dickinson. “They were sort of late coming to the game, whereas a city like Philadelphia was an initiator of this urban graffiti movement.”
Graffiti art has not always been welcome in urban settings, but art groups like the Sage Coalition are starting to change that.
“It developed as a way to kind of contain and deal with the unofficial graffiti wall painting,” said Dickinson. “So in places like Philly, there’s a long struggle between the city and graffiti artists. Trenton seems to have come a bit later to this, and there’s no police tradition of harassing graffiti artists.”
Though many frown upon typical, illicit graffiti, the Sage Coalition is not interested in that.
“The kinds of things they do is not the tagging — rather unattractive — but these decorative panels,” said Dickinson. “They have all kinds of historical themes celebrating musicians.”
The Sociology Club has been active in the efforts to showcase the graffiti art talent found in Trenton, through tours and other activities to engage people in the community.
“It’s a way to take the sociology club out into Trenton and show them some of the different parts of [the city],” said Thompson. “[They] take a look at poverty and see how even in these impoverished areas there’s still a lot of life.”
The organization also takes the initiative to integrate students into Trenton to get a real look at the art there.
“The club sponsors tours of Trenton, and now you can go on a tour of Trenton and see the street art,” said Dickinson. “It’s part of an effort to get students to explore something that’s going on right here, adjacent to Rider, and investigate this phenomenon, which is global.”
Printed in the 12/3/14 edition.