Best Art Class

WAPI

"OK, just so you guys know, it's not cool to paint on living things," a teacher tells a dozen or so 12-to-18-year-olds crowded around a TV in a basement classroom. She's referencing a scene from the seminal graffiti documentary Bomb It, in which a tagger leaves his mark on the side of a zoo animal. Graffiti is about rebellion and transgression, the young instructor explains to her attentive students, but there are just some lines you shouldn't cross. Respect and responsibility are two of the core values pushed by WAPI, a community and substance-abuse-counseling center that recently relocated to Columbia City from the International District. One of the organization's most innovative ideas is an after-school program that engages teens through hip-hop and graffiti. Two talented female artists, who paint under the names Hera and Zelot, act as mentors in the program, which is as much a support group for at-risk youth as an art class. WAPI is an acronym for Washington Asian and Pacific Islanders, yet the class is open to kids of all ethnicities, who are encouraged to express themselves so long as said expression doesn't involve something with claws. KEEGAN HAMILTON 3722 S. Hudson St., 223-9578, wapiseattle.org

 
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