Most Interesting People 2016: Stamy Paul
Why she’s interesting: As the founder and president of the nonprofit Graffiti HeArt, Paul uses her love of graffiti to help promote street art and fund art scholarships for local students. Her work has brought artist Victor Ving’s “Greetings From” tour to Cleveland and secured the space for his “Greetings From Cleveland” mural in Ohio City. Graffiti HeArt has already raised enough to send two high school students through the Cleveland Institute of Art’s Pre-College Program.
Art Start: Paul never meant to start a nonprofit. It all began five years ago when she wanted to commission a mural for her Tremont home and had a hard time finding an artist. “I wanted to take some of the graffiti that I’d seen around the world and bring the outside in.”
Knowing the Unknown: Now that she’s established a reputation in the graffiti community, she’s learned to appreciate some of the artists who are hesitant about her organization. “They want to maintain the underground feel of being unknown. I think they just want to make sure that the art of graffiti as they grew up and know is respected. There’s a lot of social and political expression that comes with graffiti art.”
Paul’s favorite thing “I enjoyed golfing at the Old Course at St.Andrews, where very few women have golfed – let alone people in general”
Can Do: New projects are always in the works. Plans could include working with a local developer to create murals at shopping centers, and she’s talking with a local businessperson about developing a mural outside their building.
Home Work: Paul has had local artists such as Alex Tang and Steve Ehret create graffiti in her home. Ehret made his piece in the main hallway. “He did it all with spray in a very narrow space. It’s like a big beetle.”
Gift Tag: Although Paul isn’t an artist herself, she did participate in one of Graffiti HeArt’s commissions, the Hands Across the Community Mural at Gay Games 9 in August 2014, by dipping her hands in pastel paint. “I want to learn how to do some basic spray graffiti. I really need to work with somebody, to at least get my own signature.”
Street Smarts: The biggest lesson Paul wants to pass on to people about graffiti is don’t be afraid of it. “Look through the negative connotations of what the perception is and look into the actual creation. Next time a train goes by, really look at some of the creations on it. Be aware of the culture of it. Fear not, look deep into the actual creative messages that they’re trying to send.”