German Seniors Take Up Graffiti


After participating in several senior graffiti workshops with Stephanie Hanna, former student Berthild Lorenz is now bringing what she learned back to the streets -- albeit legally. This time she's stepping into the role of teacher, using spray painting as a means of opening up channels of communication with younger generations.

With the help of a young volunteer, Lorenz secured the rights to paint a small rundown house by Berlin's Orankesee lake. She plans on teaching local youth basic spraying techniques and hopes to have them help paint it.

Such projects are a long way from Lorenz's own youth. She grew up in communist East Germany, where, as she explains, a hobby like graffiti was out of the question: There was an emphasis on public order, and the materials would have been difficult to obtain in any case. All that changed in 1989, she recalls. "Then the Berlin Wall came down, and suddenly everyone was spraying everything."

Her chosen hobby may be trendier than the average 59-year-old's, but Lorenz does share a common sentiment often voiced by her generation. Looking back on her own experiences growing up, she says: "I think today's youth need to take advantage of the opportunities they have."

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