The human need for self expression through the arts goes back thousands of years. Street art, or graffiti, has roots as ancient as Egyptian hieroglyphics although, today, the art form is often dismissed as “anti-community.” IHM VP/GM, Mike Johansen, is helping to change this perception through ongoing support of Graffiti HeArt, a nonprofit organization based in Cleveland, OH. Graffiti HeArt’s mission is to “redirect youth away from graffiti vandalism and towards approved commissioned projects” with the goal of providing opportunities for street artists and a way for the public to appreciate graffiti and street art as a legitimate art form.
Johansen was introduced to the organization by its founder, Stamy Paul, who is a former Avery Dennison employee, and who invited him to a Graffiti HeArt fundraiser that featured work by a variety of street artists.
“It was such a cool event,” Johansen says. “I was impressed by Graffiti HeArt’s mission to transform what these young artists were naturally doing, expressing themselves in ways they could afford, from something considered blight or criminal and transitioning that into to a career path.” Mike has been supporting the organization annually since.
“Young people who need help and who are trying to better themselves strikes a chord with me,” Mike explains. “Graffiti HeArt is in a position to help young artists, to set them up to succeed, which then helps the next generation.”
“The next generation” is an important concept for Mike. “When you look out your window, what do you see?” he asks. “That’s your community and you have a responsibility to be part of it and do what you can to sustain it and make it a better place for generations to come.”
“In one sense, giving money is easy,” Mike adds. “But when you become actively involved with a non profit or NGO in your community, you’re invested, you want to do more.”
“Avery Dennison stands out as a company that is sincere in being both a good employer and a good community citizen,” Mike continues. “I’m proud that the Avery Dennison team is part of my ‘community’, and that I am part of an organization that truly cares about the communities where we live and do business.”
Charitable contributions to Graffiti HeArt are used to fund art education scholarships and urban development projects in Northeast Ohio. View some of the art projects Graffiti HeArt has supported in the Gallery on the organization's website.