Weber State students bring art to graffiti-plagued walking tunnel

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OGDEN, Utah -- A popular walking trail along the Weber River has been plagued by graffiti for years. This summer the city of Ogden is partnering up with a Weber State Art Class to put a stop to the tagging once and for all.

The project is taking place in the tunnel running underneath Monroe Boulevard that connects the Weber River Trail to the Ogden Botanical Gardens. These art students say it's gratifying to take what they are learning in the classroom and apply it in public, while at the same time make a positive impact in their community.

"I do run along these trails and seeing graffiti is not the most appealing thing in the world," said art student Lance Erickson. "This is definitely the most unique opportunity I've had in art."

Art Professor Cara Krebs wanted to incorporate the trails surroundings into the design, specifically the Weber River.

"So the river is upside down, the river banks are coming down on the walls around you, and the ceiling is covered in reflective Mylar so it's like a mirror finish to look like water," Krebs said.

Ogden City officials say it's a win, win.

The students get the opportunity to share their talents with the public, while the city eradicates a hot bed for graffiti artists.

City officials say people are far more likely to tag a plane white wall, rather than an already established painting or mural.

"Public art really does help knock down some of the graffiti and trash you might see otherwise," said Mayor Mike Caldwell. "People really do respect the time and energy it takes from creative people to put their art out there on display."

These Weber State students say the most rewarding part about this experience is the difference they are making on the hundreds of people who ride, jog and walk through the tunnel every day.

"A couple moms with all their kids just going on an afternoon stroll, you might say, and as they were going through all the kids just stopped and said, 'oh, wow, this is great,' and that was exciting and that was really cool to see that," Erickson said.

Both the city of Ogden and the Weber State Art department say they plan to continue this partnership and hope to seek out and paint over more troubled graffiti spots throughout the city in the future.

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