Support local journalism. Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club.

The West Art District makes an eloquent statement on the power of art to build community 

Page 4 of 6

click to enlarge Harrison Rai at West Art District - PHOTO BY ROB BARTLETT
  • Photo by Rob Bartlett
  • Harrison Rai at West Art District

Rai tells me about a student who practices at the West Art District on a regular basis. "We took him in," he says. "His mom brought him over here. He'd gotten arrested for graffiti. So instead of him being on the street, now he just spends his time here. Now he doesn't get in trouble."

To promote a sense of community, they even offer scheduled one-hour lessons to anyone interested in dabbling in street art. Noun doubles as the resident art instructor, tutoring students of all demographics. They use a small alley tucked away within the parcel as a practice wall for novice painters. Most of their students are teens, many from the neighborhood, but the appointments are open to anyone, regardless of skill level or age.

"My oldest student is about 70," Noun says. "I pretty much try to teach them how to turn your aerosol-can cap into any other medium. ... A pencil, a pen, a paintbrush. It's just another form of paint, you know?"

Their goal is to help artists improve their talents and eventually learn to make a living from this art form.

"Eventually I want all these kids to learn how to monetize their skill and become commercial painters," Rai says. "These kids could actually make money because all these people see what we're doing here and they want us to paint their restaurants, their businesses."

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected].

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club for as little as $5 a month.


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Read the Digital Print Issue

January 26, 2022

View more issues


© 2022 Orlando Weekly

Website powered by Foundation