As part of a year-long residency with Mentor Artist Julia James, Coleman Elementary School hosted its first Family Art Night with Youth in Arts in March! It was a full house with Ms. Julia’s students and their families filling up the multipurpose room to create and share together. The fun began with Executive Director Miko Lee leading a collaborative sound-making activity in which everyone worked together to create the sounds of rain. With over 180 people in attendance, it was quite the storm! After warming up, participants engaged in an embodied exploration of shape and line with family and friends. Working together, we practiced making squares, triangles, circles, and quadrilaterals with our arms, legs, and bodies. Some chose to make their shapes big and organic with a large group of people, and others chose to make smaller shapes that could be easily recognized. After practicing and sharing what shapes and lines could look like, we were ready to start working on our visual arts project!
The project of the night was “Birds of the World”, a community mural in which we created birds that represented who we are as individuals and added it to a collaborative background. In designing our birds, students and their families and friends were asked to come up with three adjectives to describe themselves. We chose words about our emotional capacities like “kind”, or “brave”, as well as words about our skills and interests, like “sporty”and “creative”. Once we had determined what words described ourselves best, we visually transformed those three words into lines, shapes, and colors.
We then used our new lines, shapes, and colors as creative building blocks to draw a bird. Ms. Julia led families through the wax resist technique, adding watercolor over the oil pastel on our drawings to create interesting effects. Once our birds were complete, we cut them out and added them to a large community mural where they could take flight together! Throughout the night, Coleman fourth and fifth graders who had participated in a docent training activity the day before also helped to lead the activities. From helping facilitators to translate directions from English to Spanish to passing out materials and helping their peers ideate during the creation process, our upper grade-level art assistants made the night a success. Once all of the birds were cut out, the art assistants designed the layout of the mural and helped their families, friends, and fellow Coleman Tigers put it together.
Thank you to Principle Taylor and the wonderful Coleman PTO for making this event possible, and stay tuned for more awesome artwork from Coleman Elementary’s talented students!
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!
Families of kindergarten and first grade students joined together for an evening of literacy fun! Teachers Alejandra Vazquez and Krista Wallinger worked with reading specialist Maggie Stevens to share tools for new readers with students and their families. Participants received books to take home, and grown-ups practiced techniques for encouraging new readers.
Youth in Arts’ own Suzanne Joyal and Cathy Bowman (who is teaching the Walker Rezaian Creative Hearts Program with these students) designed a very special book for each child to make and utilize at home. It features the first letters that students learn, and each page is made from an envelope. Students drew a letter on each page, illustrated that page with words and pictures that start with the letter, then scrambled around the room searching for words that would go in each envelope.
Instructions in the book encourage parents to help their children find more words to add to the envelope pages, and then to take the words out to practice reading and writing. Since the binding of the book is just two holes, a rubber band and a popsicle stick, parents and students can continue to add pages as new letters are added to their word wall!
We are also working on refining the Letter Dance: combining sounds and shapes and movements which we can choreograph with words–stay tuned…
Thank you to our supporters~
By YIA Mentor Artist Hannah Gavagan
The 6th-8th grade students at SRCS were amazing. They were able to discuss the issues in the world with a determination to create change. They exuded power by telling their stories. In short, they had something to say.
One group especially had something to say. And they worked harder than any group I have ever taught in my entire teaching career. That is a bold statement, I know. But these four 8th grade girls would pop their heads into the theatre at lunch, recess, and every break they had to ask me, “Is it ok if we rehearse on the stage?” OF COURSE was always my answer. The short play they devised was constantly growing and shifting. Every practice was an opportunity for them to make their message stronger. They knew they had something to say. The issue they chose to tackle was consent.
I am not writing about these girls because the play they performed was so well executed (it was), or because they were some of the most talented actors I have had the pleasure of teaching (they were), but because of their collaboration and determination to make there voices heard in the most creative, powerful ways possible.
The class before their final performance, they asked if it was alright if they wore shirts they made. OF COURSE was my answer. They showed up to their performance donning white shirts with black lettering across the front that said “You are not alone.” I loved them! However, they still surprised me. During the final moment of their play, one of the girls who dealt with someone who did not respect her lack of consent spoke to the audience. She said she felt so alone and did not understand why this happened to her. She turned her back on the audience and knelt, defeated. As she turned around, I saw the back of her shirt. It read,
I burst into tears. That moment was emanating with power. Then the three other girls in the cast came onstage and physically helped her up. All their shirts also read #MeToo on the back. Once they all stood with locked arms, they faced the audience and reminded us that no one is alone in dealing with our traumas.
These girls used every opportunity to strengthen their message. And the hundreds in the theater heard them loud and clear. I was one proud director. But more importantly, they were incredibly proud of themselves.
Youth in Arts hosted our forth Free Family Art Night for the fire impacted, Hidden Valley Elementary in Santa Rosa on February 6th. Hidden Valley lost their satellite location in the North Bay Fires in October 2017. In addition 133 students, 1/4 of their school population, were displaced from their homes by the fire. In spite of surviving this incredible adversity, all of the event’s participants were wonderfully positive, enthusiastic, and engaged. They produced some of the most beautiful Family Flags we have seen thus far – full of color, hope and life. We loved spending our evening with the Hidden Valley Hawks! #hawkstrong
Thank you to our project partner Riley Street Art Supply for providing all of the art supplies for the Family Art Night. RileyStreet also generously donated fantastic art kits to all of the students who lost their homes in the fires.
If you are interested in supporting the program, please donate here.
On December 4th, Youth in Arts hosted a Family Art Night at James Monroe Elementary in Santa Rosa, as part of a free program offered to schools impacted by the recent fires. Riley Street Art Supply [http://www.rileystreet.com] kindly provided the supplies for 50 students and their families to take part in the Family Flag project. Participants were asked to close their eyes and think of symbols that give them strength and power. When they opened their eyes they were asked to quickly draw four thumbnail sketches. They then chose their favorite image from the group and redrew it on a larger scale on the canvas flag. After all the symbols were sketched, they added lots of vibrant pastel and watercolor to complete the piece. The finished flags were beautiful and colorful images representing the resilience, diversity and heart of James Monroe Elementary. Thank you for having us!