The Life-Changing Power of Art - External Relations
The Life-Changing Power of Art
VINCENNES, Ind. – Growing up, Alex Van Galder was into graffiti art,
and showing off his creative skills on others’ property sometimes got
him in trouble.
“I was a graffiti artist. I climbed buildings. I painted trains. I
ran away from helicopters,” he said. “I wasn’t doing graffiti for the
art. I was doing it for the adventure.”
Alex Van Galder, Artist and VU alum
(Images provided by Alex Van Galder)
Now he uses his artistic talent to create vibrant and eye-catching
scenes on walls, canvas, pegboard as a full-time career artist. He
started Van Galder Murals Inc.
His forte is spray paint.
A mural painted by the Vincennes University alumni, highlighting the
history of the Studebaker Company, which at one time was the world’s
largest producer of horse-drawn vehicles and a leader in automobile
manufacturing, was unveiled earlier this month inside the 19th-century
Studebaker mansion in South Bend, Indiana. He has painted bottles for
actor Dan Aykroyd’s vodka company, Crystal Head. He recently painted
an Elven city inspired by Lord of the Rings on pegboard using
Van Galder battled many hardships during childhood.
Studying art and graphic design at VU was a life-changing experience
that completely altered his trajectory.
He praises former VU professor Bernard Hagedorn for the impact he has
had on Van Galder’s life.
He has fond memories of a once-in-a-lifetime art tour to Italy and
Greece that he took with Hagedorn and other VU students about a decade
ago. The group visited numerous famous historic sites, including the
Sistine Chapel and Leaning Tower of Pisa.
“Vincennes changed a lot for me,” he said. “Mr. Hagedorn was one of
the biggest influences I’ve ever had in my life. He is the most
amazing person I’ve ever met. He is probably one of the best role
models I’ve ever had in my life.
“I grew up pretty rough and if it wasn’t for those role models, I
wouldn’t have seen the potential in myself.”
The father of two is on a mission to do the same for others.
Van Galder, who lives in Elkhart, Indiana, is the founder of a
not-for-profit called Graff Bash Fundraising Inc. Van Galder and other
artists have transformed the South Bend Art Wall located at S. Niles
Ave and East Jefferson Blvd. in South Bend, Indiana into a place where
graffiti is embraced and not spurned.
In addition to making art, they raise money for charity. Van Galder
said they’ve most recently donated to a children’s home.
His philanthropy goes beyond that. He also teaches art to children in
“I want to do as much to show my children how you can shape the world
around you with the talents that you were given,” Van Galder said.