At Cascade Canyon, the theme of the 2018-2019 school year was “iterations.” Mentor artist Tracy Eastman worked with 7th and 8th graders over the course of eight weeks through our Artists in Schools residency program to build on this theme with project-based work in self-portraiture. Tracy shares: “We discussed how the students are at an age where self-identity is often being formed, reflected upon, and sometimes questioned. This was the notion that lead to having the students create self-portraits for our culminating art project.”
The project began with an exploration of color theory and painting techniques in order to provide a strong platform for understanding the artistic process. Each student mixed and created their own palette using only the primary colors, plus brown and white. They each created color tiles by combining complimentary colors and documenting the iterations of hues that were achieved. The students kept the color tiles for personal reference to assist them when creating hues for their portraits. The process of the self-portrait paintings began with each student being assigned a school iPad, with which they took a series of self-portrait photos to choose from.
Tracy then guided students through the process of applying an electronic grid over their photos using their iPads, which were then replicated manually by drawing the grid directly onto their canvases. Using the grid as a guide for shapes and proportions, the students sketched their portraits from their photo references.
They then used their knowledge of color theory and painting techniques to create skin tones and other hues to complete their self-portraits. Tracy remarks, “Each layer of paint changed the appearance of the paintings, creating various iterations throughout the process. While many students tried to create paintings that looked much like their photos, there were also some who decided to improvise and re-imagine aspects of their paintings to make them more personal.”
The portraits were hung and displayed in the school’s community room for the culminating event, showing each student’s self reflection and self expression. Great job Cascade Canyon!
Marty Meade, has been a Youth in Arts Mentor Artist for well over 20 years. Through our Arts Unite Us program, Marty has worked with students at Compass Academy (formerly Braun High School), an alternative elementary/middle/high school for students who experience underlying mental health challenges. She teaches students how to create artwork in a variety of media including, but not limited to painting, drawing, printmaking, and even glass making! The stories she shares in conjunction with the caliber of work her students produce continues to astound.
Marty enters many of her students in RISING STARS each year. This year’s blindly adjudicated exhibition, features 6 works by six Compass academy students, including anonymous student “M” who won the Youth in Arts award. “M was blown away with the award,” Marty shared, “and the staff was too. His response with the award, was immediate doubt, ‘but I’m not very good.’ He received it with the middle school and high school kids present. Everyone applauded, and I reminded him that the judges were professionals, and that all they had was a number and not a name. There was a moment when I saw him sink into his chair and tears filled his eyes.”
M, like many of the students at Compass, experienced trauma at an early age. His winning entry into RISING STARS is a block print on watercolor paper entitled, Self Portraits. “He has been drawing the image from day one, regardless of the assignment,” Marty said. “He has used acrylics, India ink, permanent markers with marbling, etc. I just let him do it and often wonder where it comes from. He did have a beautiful fish painting…but when I asked him which to choose [for the show] he instantly picked the prints.”
“My wonderful students at Compass confront challenging mental health or emotional struggles. The fact that they only get 45 minutes of art each week is unbelievable, and yet they make such wonderful art. I have been deeply moved that our students have been able to receive awards in spite of this limitation.”
Thank you, Marty for all you do!
Katya McCulloch, TeamWorks Art Mentoring co-founder, and Louis Murillo TeamWorks teaching artist, instruct at the Loma Alta School (Marin County Office of Education’s Juvenile Court classroom). They shared more about the inspiration behind, and process of creating their group artwork on display as part of our RISING STARS exhibition, on view at the YIA Gallery through March 29th.
“Holiday Banquet,” a mixed media work featuring images of food painted on paper plates, mounted on a hand embroidered tablecloth, began as a project about recycled materials. Katya, Louis, and their students discussed how food vendors at places like the Marin County Fair, have to discard food once it’s opened, and so much of it is wasted. The work is also a comment on the fact that juvenile hall probation restricts students from going to the Marin County Fair. So, in a sense they were depicting food they wouldn’t typically be able to have.
The work started around the winter holidays, so the teaching artists and their students were talking about memories of family and their favorite foods. They discussed how, “during the holidays some teens were locked up while others were home enjoying good food,” Katya said. “This is when we try to come up with a group project that will keep them focused and not think negatively,” Louis shared.
Once each students had settled on their individual subject, they then focused on the formal qualities of painting such as shadow, highlight, contrast, and perspective to make their work more 3-dementional. The artists, aged 13 to 18, worked in the round at a table of 8 students. Once they were finished they left the painted plates out on the table to dry, and realized it looked a lot like a banquet…hence the title.
Katya and Louis work with Loma Alta’s students once per week 12 months of the year. They don’t have any real breaks in the juvenile hall system. “The continuity…the ongoing nature of the art is the most impactful for the students,” Katya shared. Having more school breaks would, “delay the the process of building trust.”
“Exhibits are very important for building pride,” Katya noted. Loma Alta student’s work is displayed multiple times per year – as part of RISING STARS at Youth in Arts, as well as at the Marin County Fair, San Rafael Library, Pickleweed Community Center, Marin Center, and Civic Grand Jury Chambers.
Through art making Katya has seen, “a quantum leap in students willingness to work together…putting personal issues and posturing aside” to focus on the art. “The unity in these projects is huge, as it’s tremendous to helping the kids communicate amongst others with more respect,” Louis added.
TeamWorks has been providing “on-going arts engagement for at-risk youth ages 11-18 in Juvenile Justice and in Alternative Education high schools in Marin County” for 20 years.
Nearly 300 people attended the Artists’ Awards Reception for RISING STARS, which drew student artists, their parents, grandparents, friends and teachers who braved the rain to see Marin County’s top high school art work on display.
The 28th annual high school exhibition at the YIA Gallery, on view through March 29, features nearly 150 paintings, photographs, drawings, sculptures and mixed media works. 16 public, private and alternative high schools are included in the show.
San Rafael High School student Amelie Benicio, 16, won the Best of Show prize. Benicio and Redwood High School student Nick Cook, who won the top prize in the mixed media division, were featured this week in a Marin IJ article.
Benicio, a student of teacher Annie Yi, said her charcoal and newsprint mixed media portrait depicts the “quirky yet fearful personality” of a character called “Crazy Eyes” from a popular television show. “I thought it showed a lot of emotion,” Benicio said, after learning she’d won. “I like the eyes and the shading because it came out a lot better than I expected.”
Nick Cook, 18, won for a mixed media piece called “Human Circus.” Art materials he used included markers, stickers and paint pens. Cook is one of five artists who won San Francisco Beautiful’s 2019 Muni art contest. His art is now featured on several Muni buses. Speaking about his piece in RISING STARS, Cook said the work deals with the issue of identity and how people choose to reveal their personalities. “People just aren’ that comfortable expressing themselves,” he said. Cook studies AP Art at Redwood High School with teacher Lauren Bartone and hopes to attend Parsons School of Design.
Please join us for the public opening reception: Friday, February 8, 5 pm–8pmRISING STARS: Feb. 3–March 29, 11 am–4 pm, M–F YIA GALLERY 917 C Street San Rafael, CA 94901
Youth in Arts staff, Miko Lee, Suzanne Joyal and Kelsey Rieger have been presenting on arts equity as a tool to begin implementation of the Marin Arts Education Plan. On January 29 the team conducted a 3-hour interactive workshop for Marin County educators and administrators at Marin Community Foundation. Participants learned about the recent data released from the California Data Project and reflected on the Race Counts study. They watched “A Student Named Art” student produced film from the California Arts Education Alliance and deconstructed the video using Visual Thinking Strategies. They learned about the latest in arts education research, created a collaborative mural and used theatre to explore language arts and history links.
“Thank you for the amazing presentation you and your team so beautifully engaged us in yesterday. It was wonderful how you kept everybody engaged while instilling some crucial facts about the powerful impact art can provide students. Observing the group, I feel confident that each person present will be sharing this information with others and thinking more about how to take the next steps within their district or school.”
-Eileen Smith, Marin County Office of Education Director of Education Services
That same night Miko & Kelsey provided similar workshop for the North Bay PTA leads and provided information about CREATE California’s Public Will Campaign. For more info about this workshop, reach out to us: firstname.lastname@example.org
On January 24, the Marin IJ published an article written by fifth graders working with Shirl Buss, YIA Mentor Architect and educator with UC Berkeley’s Y-PLAN.
On Thursday night, Laurel Dell hosted a Family Art Night for second and third-graders. Families were able to visit the gallery of works created over the Fall, and to participate in a hands-on art-making experience.
YIA Mentor Artists Cathy Bowman and Suzanne Joyal asked students and families to respond the IJ story: What do YOU want for San Rafael’s future? What important words can you read? Circle them. Now, choose the MOST important word, and turn it into a piece of art that fills your whole page.
Each student and family member found a word in the article that was important to them, and turned it into one of the mini-artworks you find here.
Lastly, we glued all of the pieces together into this one cohesive collage.
The students ranged in age from TK (PATHS), to third grade (ELECTRIC from a kid who says he doesn’t feel safe walking in his neighborhood at night). We saw parents translating for each other, children reading to their parents, and even tiny little pre-readers able to pick out letters and begin their journey to reading.
Here is a link to a member of the community in Fairfax who wrote a letter to the MarinIJ entitled: “Inspired by Youngsters ideas on Sea-Level Rise”.
Thank you California Arts Council for your generous support!
Compass Academy is an alternative elementary/middle/high school for students who experience underlying mental health challenges. Marty Meade, a certified Art Therapist who works year-round with Compass Academy, says of her goal is to have the students “connect with the creative process, and to know that it is a safe space to inhabit when they are feeling powerless.”
She expands on their projects over the last semester, explaining: “We have painted with watercolors and acrylics, decorated sugar skulls, and made fused glass pendants and small plates. The students have experimented with marbling paper and some print making as well. We play with concepts like scale, sometimes working big and sometimes in miniature. For some, it’s a process of learning to live with mistakes and let go, and for others it’s a time to slow down.”
Every day brings new adventure, and sometimes new challenges. Students who are new to the class in particular can experience understandable hesitation. Marty explains “I have new students who come in feeling unsure and occasionally defensive. One particular high school student painted a beautiful apple on her first day, but when I complimented her, her response was that she ‘didn’t like art’. I backed off, and as the following weeks went by she became more and more engaged. Her Sugar skull was delicate as was the trinket box that she carefully painted. Last week we did marbling and I gave them straws to blow the paint around in the water. She soon was dropping the dyes into the bubbles and then experimented with dish detergent. On Halloween as they were painting masks I read two stories from Grimm Fairy Tales. She immediately knew the version of Cinderella, and giggled as I read the vivid descriptions of the stepsisters trying on the shoe. All the while, I’m watching the hard-edged woman become a playful child again.”
However, time has had a positive effect on many of her students. Now in his second year, one student has transformed from being disruptive to the class leader. Marty notes that “his art is wonderful, and I’m trying to think of a creative way to gather his images of cats.” Another student, who Marty refers to as “I”, can hardly contain himself during art class and loves making things for his mother. Marty builds on these experiences to help students think about who they are and how their work might reflect their character, beliefs, and values. During the trinket box project, Marty brought in uncut rocks with opals inside and asked everyone to pick a stone that they felt reflected them most. She adds, “They were all very careful as they examined the stones.”
Marty credits her time in the classroom to the collaboration of the Marin County Office of Education and Youth in Arts. She is grateful for the opportunity to be with the children for the entire school year, and adds: “It has made such a difference in my relationship to the students.”
Thank you to the contract from the Kennedy Center and the funders who helped to make this happen: