“The first thing I drew was a clear political declaration against the people living in my street. I could finally have a voice without having to shout out loud,” Ricco explains. “This is why graffiti is not violence and at the same time it can mediate the will to communicate that usually gets confused with teenage violence and the feeling of not belonging.”
Street Art as a form of communication of young people in urban communities is the subject of ST.ART, a European initiative by the University “Giulielmo Marconi” of Rome. Together with several partners, a team around Dr Ilaria Mascitti and Jenny Petrucci have developed a virtual learning environment and an open simulation environment where students from five schools can try out forms of street art in a simulated life-like world. “We wanted to combine young people’s fascination for the Internet and social media with teaching about street art forms,” Petrucci explains the inspiration behind ST.ART.
The aim is to let the young adults experience the difference between aesthetic and street art forms, graffiti and vandalism, a distinction which is often not easy to make. “All street artists come from vandalism as a process of personal growth,” Ricco confirms, who also participated in a street art project of the Centocelle neighbourhood in Rome.
Young people’s sense of common ground and interests within their communities can be strengthened and supported by projects such as ST.ART, according to project manager Petrucci. “Through using the ST.ART eCourses, students can enhance their critical thinking about street art. At the same time they acquire transversal skills such as digital, social and civic competencies.”
“We are also aiming at the teachers who can increase their knowledge of new art trends, in particular they also can work on their possible prejudices against street art” she adds.
Ricco taught kids in the dull Roman suburb Centocelle how to use spray and colours to draw and express themselves. At the end of the project lab, each student was able to present their own drawing. They also drew a collective graffiti. “In this way we wanted to spread the idea that each of us is an artist as well as a vandal but at the end of the day being an artist is much more fun!” he smiles.
The ST.ART project website www.startproject.eu.