Graffiti beautifies struggling communities

By Jillian Santacroce
Correspondent 

When asking younger kids what they want to be when they grow up, odds are that they say a schoolteacher, a scientist, the president or a veterinarian. Then there are some children who deviate from that norm, one being the then-preadolescent Will “Kasso” Condry.

Condry, at 11 years old, realized while watching a televised battle between HEX and SLICK, two Los Angeles graffiti writers, that that’s what he wanted to strive to be.

Condry reflects art history. (Courtney Wirths / Photo Editor)
Condry reflects art history. (Courtney Wirths / Photo Editor)

A past student from the College and a Trenton native, Condry gave a presentation at the School of Arts and Communication’s weekly Brown Bag Series on Friday, March 28, at the Mayo Concert Hall. He addressed what efforts he and his crew, the S.A.G.E Coalition, are doing to embellish and connect urban cities through graffiti artwork.

Every project the artists of the S.A.G.E Coalition work on conveys a special message to its observers and illustrates history.

“Art has to have a message in order for it to transcend,” Condry said.

In June 2012, for example, The Gandhi Garden, contrived from members of the S.A.G.E Coalition, assembled a public park with a garden, a mural of Gandhi and an art gallery at a then-vacant lot in a struggling neighborhood.

The message to be elicited through the project, which was also presented beside the mural, was, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Mural featured at The Gandhi Garden in Trenton. (Courtney Wirths / Photo Editor)
Mural featured at The Gandhi Garden in Trenton. (Courtney Wirths / Photo Editor)

Their efforts are to essentially inspire individuals who reside in urban areas to connect adjoining communities that make up a city and to bring positive light to hustling areas.

Though the nonprofit group and work originated in Trenton, N.J., their artwork and mission has transcended to New York, Philadelphia, London and areas in Texas and Camden.

Condry and his crew are currently configuring future plans to take their operation on a trip to the west coast to further their efforts.

“It really relates to what I’m doing … It’s really interesting and really exciting,” art education major Hope Stillwell said.

When reflecting about his time at the College and what his education did to establish his foundation and help with his current work, Condry said, “The one thing that I learned that I apply today (is) … the history of art … and that’s more or less what I try to distill in everything we do.”

Visit sagecoalitionnj.com for more information on the S.A.G.E Coalition and Will “Kasso” Condry.