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Marina teens get an opportunity to explore their creativity through graffiti art.

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Riley Hicks,13, and Jose Herrera, 13, attended the graffiti art workshop at the Marina Library

Riley Hicks,13, and Jose Herrera, 13, attended the graffiti art workshop at the Marina Library during spring break. Hicks wrote her name, while Herrera wrote “pickle juice” and added texture to the letters to resemble a pickle. Photographed by Celia Jiménez.

Celia Jiménez here, wondering how to find an art class for myself that is as cool as this one offered to teens in Marina. Last week, the Friends of the Marina Library and the Marina Branch of Monterey County Free Libraries offered a spring break workshop for teens all about graffiti art. During the workshop, teens learned a little about the history of graffiti and also about how to turn simple letters into a unique style. 

The instructor was Marina-based artist Jorge Torres. Ever since Torres was a little kid, he has been intrigued by street art and murals. Most of his family lives in Los Angeles, and every time he went he enjoyed looking at all the artwork on walls and under the bridges—from large murals to detailed portraits to simple graffiti such as bubble letters.

One of his favorite motifs is the sneaker—but it might look a bit different from what you’d expect. “I have been tending to add tentacles coming out of them or making them look like a shape of an egg,” he says. He works with different media including cameras, spray paint and brushes to create his art.

Torres sells prints and pins—or gives them away—to support his art. He designed and created his first mural a couple of months ago when a long-time friend asked him to paint one for his new business, The Covenant, a retail store located in Seaside (Torres did the logo as well). “I had no idea how to paint a mural. So I pretty much just went on YouTube and did research,” Torres says. “I was able to create something very unique and something very beautiful for them at the shop.”

Torres says this mural has opened doors for him—he was contacted via Instagram, for example, to teach the Graffiti Art workshop. Torres liked the idea especially because he has worked for years with teens in Seaside for Community Partnership for Youth.

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During the first class, Torres taught the gathered teens about the history of graffiti, and kids received canvases and drew their own letters. In the second class, armed with brushes, sharpies and paint, they learned about colors, shapes and finishing. I told Torres that I was surprised to find they weren’t using spray paint. He says since they were working on a small area—and inside the library—he wanted the teens to have more control over what they were doing. 

Torres says he really liked teaching this class, and giving teens the opportunity to explore their creativity. He hopes to do it again in the future to provide teens with more opportunities to experience different types of art. 

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