Taking it to the streets in Cedar Rapids

By 9:35am PST July 16, 2019

Iowa BIG students combine street art with the Berlin Wall project to bring the Cold War to life.

A mysterious Czech street artist has struck in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, scrawling his (or her?) telltale elephant tags throughout town – on take-out coffee cups, sidewalks, even a 60-foot replica of the Berlin Wall.

No one knows the identity of the elusive artist, who goes by the moniker Slon, but he has his own Instagram account, a lively, audacious style? and a few helpers from local high schools.

“We tell people we work with Slon. If businesses want him to come to tag their shops, we can arrange that,” said Lane Swartzendruber, a student at XQ Super School Iowa BIG in Cedar Rapids. “He’s already got some name recognition. He seems to be catching on.”

“Revolution Starts in the Streets”

Slon’s artwork is connected to a new art installation called “Revolution Starts in the Streets” at the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Libraryin Cedar Rapids. The exhibit — which celebrates the power of art to foment social and political change — features a foam replica of the Berlin Wall covered with colorful street art by Slon, visiting street artists, museum visitors, and students.

Iowa-based artist Paco Rosic guided Iowa BIG students in aerosol art using an elephant stencil. Born in Bosnia, Rosic is an internationally known aerosol artist who previously lived and worked in Germany.

Street Art is Not Meant to Last Forever

“But I wanted the students to realize what street art is really about. It’s not meant to last forever,” she said. “Street art is about creating impressions, being part of a social movement. It’s meant to evolve.”

Art… with Academic Elements

Elusive street artist Slon left his mark on a Berlin Wall replica in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Artistic Freedom and Social Change

Iowa BIG students assisted mysterious street artist Slon as part of an exhibit about the Berlin Wall at the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library.

“Using street art to market an exhibit about street art — that’s just such a cool idea,” he said. “It’s been great watching it unfold. There’s been no wrong ideas. The students could really experiment.”

But perhaps most important, the project has been a lot of fun, Swartzendruber said.

Former Senior Writer, XQ Institute