- Associated Press - Monday, June 26, 2017

ABERDEEN, S.D. (AP) - Wearing lime green gloves and a pink flower in her braids, Grayce Comes thoughtfully draws a smiley face underneath a quote that reads “B you!” on the sidewalk in front of her house.

For the past two months, the 11-year-old artist has been encouraging her Aberdeen neighborhood - along Jay Street north of the Northern State University campus - one cement slab at a time, the Aberdeen News (https://bit.ly/2rSUeCl ) reported.

Grayce realized her sidewalk chalk could be used to brighten people’s days and created “Artopia,” originally called “Artlandia,” a “blog” that exists on the sidewalk in front of her home.

“If you walk by it in the morning, it’ll encourage you,” she said. “People can look and also learn.”

Grayce said her best friend and her little brother also help with the chalk art, writing favorite quotes such as, “It’s never impossible, just challenging.” She said she also enjoys writing song lyrics and “things I’ve learned over the years.

“They’re always encouraging,” she said. “Never negative.”

Grayce said she wants to sell her art in the future and be an art teacher when she grows up.

Brad Comes, Grayce’s father, said the young artist has been drawing with chalk every summer for years.

“She’s probably been doing it since she was old enough to know how to handle a piece of chalk,” he said. “She . took hold and started using each slab of the sidewalk as its own canvas.”

Grayce has an aversion to conflict or negativity, her father said, and “doesn’t want bullying to be in existence.”

He said when he first saw Grayce’s chalk drawings and positive messages, he was blown away - even though some of the words were misspelled. He said Grayce always uses every cement slab, from the corner of their house to the bushes at the end of the lot.

“Some of the things she makes up on her own,” Comes said. “She feeds off of positive things.”

Darci Bultema, a fine arts professor at Northern State University, said she started seeing Grayce’s artwork toward the end of Northern’s spring semester.

“When you’re thinking about your day ahead . suddenly you see this little note that says, ‘You are beautiful’ or ‘Smile,’” Bultema said. “It just brightens my day.”

She said Grayce’s messages were encouraging on her walk from home to campus during a busy time at the end of the semester.

“It’s a good reminder that life is beautiful,” Bultema said. “I hope . that she continues this mission of brightening peoples days.”

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Information from: Aberdeen American News, https://www.aberdeennews.com


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