Central Los Angeles : Wall Art Project Turns to Children

With so many murals bedecking the walls of East Los Angles, it's virtually impossible to be original.

That's what inspired Guy Torres to go against the grain. He didn't hire an artist, as most projects do. Instead, he pointed 25 budding leaders with no art experience at two graffiti-swirled walls near Humphreys Elementary School, and watched.

What emerged after a few long days of work was a skyline spelling "Peace," and a group of cartoon characters saying "Children First."

"We don't believe in hiring a muralist," said Torres, founding director of the East Los Angeles Youth Leadership Council, which trains teenagers in leadership skills. "We don't believe doing that empowers anyone but the muralist. Most of these kids, prior to this, they couldn't even draw too well."

Besides learning to paint and draw, the 25 youths learned a painful lesson. Last week, the morning after completing the work, taggers struck. Undaunted, the muralists painted over the graffiti, and their work has stood, unscathed, ever since.

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