Arts » Arts Lead

Artists Stop in Cleveland to Paint Dakota Access Protest Mural



Earlier in the week, a group of graffiti artists traveled from Washington, D.C. to Standing Rock. Along the way, they stopped in Detroit, Flint, Chicago, Minneapolis and Cleveland, creating murals in each city to communicate their message: Water is Life. The group's first mural stop was in Cleveland on Nov. 30.

"We are hoping to create large #WaterisLife murals in partnership with local communities in each city to raise awareness amidst a media blackout on DAPL and help mobilize folks to take action in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux," said artist Shani Shih at the time, on behalf of the group. "By organizing interactive daylong events around the creation of the murals in each city, we hope to harness the power of art in disrupting the media blackout on DAPL, challenging colonial violence, building community and mobilizing action in solidarity with Standing Rock."

Thanks to Cleveland-based non-profit Graffiti HeArt, the group found their first wall at 4329 Lorain Ave., along West 44th Street. The artists contacted Graffiti HeArt just days before arriving. Graffiti HeArt immediately reached out to its many community partners, including Rafid Fadul, the owner of the Tenk building where Graffiti HeArt stores its murals and related art supplies. Fadul quickly responded, offering one of his properties to the project.

"I was excited for the opportunity for Cleveland to be a part of the #waterislife tour to provide a canvas for the art collective on short notice," says Stamy Paul, president and founder of Graffiti HeArt. "I felt it was a perfect fit to what Graffiti HeArt is about, social expression through public graffiti mural art. There are many people in Cleveland interested in the DAPL situation and the media block and wondering how they can help those taking action in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux. By partnering with the Water is Life: DC Artists 2 collective, not only do they bring their #waterislife message to Cleveland, Graffiti HeArt is also able to help get the word out to help the artist collective along the way to the other four cities in route to Standing Rock."

The artists arrived at their destination a few days prior to the announcement of a major victory for protesters, as the Army Corps of Engineers announced it would not grant a permit to allow the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross beneath Lake Oahe in North Dakota.

View the project on social media by following #waterislife. Learn more about Graffiti HeArt at


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