Graffiti artists from around the country and beyond on Thursday painted inspiring words and images for the children at the Modesto Gospel Mission on 14 canvases hung around their play area.
A group of Christian graffiti artists called the Gospel Graffiti Crew of Modesto organized the event, bringing in artists from places such as Southern California, the Bay Area, Illinois, Hawaii, Canada and even South Korea.
“We are doing encouraging words for the kids and characters that will inspire them and get them psyched about art … and excited about life and know they are loved,” said Aaron Vickery, organizer of the event.
Vickery, who started Gospel Graffiti 20 years ago with a friend, has met members outside Modesto, mostly online.
Members from each of the cities involved host an event every August; last year it was in Chicago, the year before that in Honolulu. This year, “We are coming back to our roots,” Vickery said.
The artists are also painting a wall at Redeemer Church on H Street and a wall at a business on McHenry Avenue, and painted canvases at the Thursday night farmers market.
The canvases for the children feature words such as “Trust” and “Jesus.” There are also images of children dancing and praying, in addition to birds flying.
Alex Abarca of Los Angeles painted a dog and a cat – which children know to be rivals – with a heart between the two.
“I wanted to tie them and unify them with a heart, a love message in between to remind them to love one another as God loves them,” she said.
The art was a surprise to the children at the Gospel Mission when they got home from school Thursday afternoon. About 20 children utilize the center for after-school tutoring; some of them also live at the Gospel Mission.
“It’s amazing that all of this is coming out of a spray can,” said Gospel Mission Executive Director Kevin Carroll. “These kids that we work with here, they see this all around the neighborhood but it is generally in a negative sense, gang tagging and whatnot, but this is very positive; that is maybe going to encourage the kids to do something like these guys are doing with their talent.”