Kannapolis street artist uses art to transform pedestrian tunnel for local kids

Man turns graffitied Kannapolis tunnel into art

KANNAPOLIS, N.C. (WBTV) - It is a neighborhood nook that had been mostly avoided for years, at Cannon Boulevard and Dakota Street in Kannapolis.

“There were clothes, sleeping bags, needles, cans bottles…” Shane Pierce says.

Pierce, also known as street artist ‘Abstract Dissent,’ got wind of a potential canvas under his feet.

“Somebody told me about it,” he says. “I didn’t even know it was here.”

The tunnel is meant to bring people from one side of traffic on Cannon Boulevard, safely to the other. But lately, there had not been much ‘safe’ about it.

“It was bad, it was scary,” Pierce says. “Like, grown people didn’t want to walk in it.”

He cleared it out, spray-painted one piece, then heard from community members like Darius Johnson that this spot had been a safety hazard for little kids.

“Kids tried to walk through here to go to school before, they were scared to,” Johnson says.

“I’m like, now this is a reason to take this whole thing over,” Pierce says. “Now we’re doing the whole thing. We want to make it safe again.”

Johnson says he hopes more community members will be inspired, as Pierce works to keep the tunnel clean, and get the lights turned back on.

“It’s time for change,” Johnson says. “[The community is] probably thinking like…just as he did it, we can probably do the same thing.”

Pierce said he never got permission, but the feedback tells him he’s more than welcome there.

“My view on it is, did people get permission to come down and write racist stuff on the wall, and throw garbage here and trash it?” he asks. “If they didn’t get permission to do that, why do I need permission to fix it up?”

Copyright 2019 WBTV. All rights reserved.