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Mark-Making at Magnolia Park

As part of this year’s  Arts Unite Us residencies, mentor artist Julia James works with TK and Kindergarten students at Magnolia Park School through their early intervention program. Over the course of ten weeks, Julia explains, “we will be using a variety of adaptive art tools, materials and surfaces to explore alternative ways to make marks and actively create artworks.” Key goals for the residency include personal expression, developing fine motor skills, and interpersonal communication and collaboration. Students will practice working with primary and secondary colors, using a broad assortment of materials to mix and apply paint.

As a final project for the residency, students will create an abstract collaborative painting that will be including in the Kennedy Center’s national online VSA exhibition for 2019-20 representing San Rafael, CA, as well as the annual YIA Gallery exhibition, “Outside the Lines: Collaborative Art in Special Day Classrooms”.

Thank you to the Kennedy Center, Marin Community Foundation, and Marin County Office of Education for making this program possible.

‘Til Dawn Celebrates New Members

students wearing mutlicolored tshirts hang out

Thanks to Eliot Holtzman Photography

Welcome to the`Til Dawn 2019-20 company.

The new singers attend schools throughout Marin, from Larkspur to Novato and bring a variety of expertise and interests.

“I sing when I wake up and I sing until I go to sleep,” said new member Leah Nemerovski. “I don’t find passion in anything else.”

Current ‘Til Dawn members are already practicing and putting their musical experience to use. Nemerovski plays the trombone, piano, drums, ukelele and enjoys musical theater. She became interested in ‘Til Dawn when she saw them perform  at her middle school. She was surprised how easily she connected with other members of the group.

Nemerovski, and Alisa Costello, both 14, attend San Marin High School in Novato. One of the things they enjoy is the closeness of the group.

“It’s like a family,” Costello said.

For the newest members, music runs in the family. Costello’s uncle was an opera singer who performed at Carnegie Hall; Nemerovski is learning how to play the drums from her dad. Will Ferris’s mom is a singer, and Jacquie Kizer has two uncles who are musicians. Emma Orrick’s father is a music producer.

Kizer, 15, goes to Redwood High School. Kizer moved to Marin from New York last year and previously sung in a similar group. Being in the group, she said, provides a safe space and an environment in which to have fun.

“It’s honestly been amazing,” she said.

Orrick, 14, is also at Redwood. and plays the piano and does theater. She was surprised by how quickly the group learns the songs.

“It’s always my highlight of the week,” she said. “It doesn’t feel like a chore.”

Ferris, 15, is a sophomore at Drake High School. He didn’t think he’d get into the group, he said, because he couldn’t figure out what to sing. He chose his winning song –”Fly Me To The Moon” – on the day of the audition.

Ferris said he enjoys performing all of the songs, although some are difficult because they are beyond his tenor range. The songs that are performed are chosen by the ensemble.

“I think it’s great,” he said. “I think it’s really healthy for the group.”

`Til Dawn is an advanced vocal music program that celebrates the value of the arts, encourages positive messages about meaningful social issues and inspires children of all ages. The 15-member ensemble is part of Youth in Arts’ I AM mentorship program and the longest-running, year-round teen a cappella ensemble in the Bay Area. It’s directed by Austin Willacy, who performs as a solo artist and also with his own a cappella group, The House Jacks. While Willacy is on sabbatical this fall,  the group has been taught by singer Lilan Kane. a ‘Til Dawn alumnus, and others.

 

2nd Graders Build Thriving Neighborhoods

Second graders at Short and Laurel Dell elementary schools in San Rafael created vibrant collages showing what a healthy neighborhood needs.

We began by looking at the work of artists like Faith Ringgold and the late Romare Bearden. Working with Youth in Arts’ Mentor Artist Cathy Bowman, we used the “wax resist” method to write our names on watercolor paper and mixed blues and greens to paint a “cool” background. We talked about what a neighborhood needs to be strong and healthy, and what we need to be strong a healthy. Both classes included schools, libraries and homes of different sizes and shapes. There were some surprising additions too. At Short, one student suggested a carnival. At Laurel Dell, a student created a community art studio.

We then created collages, using only warm colors for our structures. That made them stand out when they were placed on the cool colored background. This gave us a chance to review what colors are warm, and what colors are cool. Once they were dry, we flipped them over and cut out our shapes. Details were added later with pastel and more paper. We looked at doors and windows from around the world, and noticed they are not always square or rectangle.

“This was a complex project with many layers, and students did an amazing job,” Bowman said. “It was wonderful to see them make connections between their own lives and their neighborhood.”

Some of the paper that students used was made by rubbing crayons and pastels across textured templates, creating brick patterns and other designs. More connections were made as the textured paper was shared between the two schools.

The projects will be on display as part of the upcoming Youth in Arts’ upcoming exhibit: Kids Imagine Our World: In My Neighborhood. The show of 2nd grade work from both schools runs Oct. 28 through Dec. 6. The opening reception, which will be hosted by the Youth in Arts’ Board of Directors, will be held on Nov. 8 from 5 to 8 p.m.

Laurel Dell Students Create Word Mural

First graders at Laurel Dell School in San Rafael have been exploring literacy through art with Youth in Arts’ Mentor Artist Cathy Bowman. Students love to look at their art. When we make art with words, we look carefully to find what we know, which means we practice reading.

Students built a colorful word mural from important words they know. Using a donated canvas splashed with graffiti, old encyclopedia pages, oil pastels and glue, they made big words and cut them into interesting shapes. The words were glued onto the canvas, which will become a living document; students will be encouraged to add to their work throughout the year.

The goal of the project was to teach the young artists that words are fun. Teacher Vanessa Nunez helped with the project by encouraging the young artists to brainstorm about words they know. She wrote the words on index cards before art class so students were ready to copy them and practice their spelling. The final step was cutting their words into interesting shapes.

“Art is a wonderful way to teach literacy since all letters are shapes,” Bowman said. “Students love to engage in creative art making and show what they know.”

When a large box became scrambled while students searched for their letters, Nunez created a teachable moment. Students who are English Language Learners took turns sorting the letters and then naming them before putting them in the right place.

“Working at Laurel Dell is a great experience because Principal Pepe Gonzalez and his staff are so supportive,” Bowman said. “Working in partnership enables us to accomplish so much.”

Social Emotional Learning with the Oklahoma Arts Institute

Art has the power to engage and inspire students of all abilities. Whether it is the visual arts, theater, dance, music, or new media, creative exploration has been known to help students reach learning and behavioral objectives in productive and innovative ways. In early October, Youth in Arts Staff travelled to the Quartz Mountain in Oklahoma to lead a 17-hour professional development with teachers from across the state through the Oklahoma Arts Institute. Together, we explored arts integration strategies and techniques for addressing Social Emotional Learning (SEL) goals with students informed by student-centered frameworks such as Culturally Responsive Teaching and Universal Design. Over the course of three days through visual arts, dance, music, and theatre, educators learned about the five competencies of SEL framed by the following asset-based questions:

  1. Self Awareness: Who Am I?
  2. Social Awareness: Who am I in relation to the world around me?
  3. Self Management: How do I fit in to the world around me?
  4. Relationship Skills: How do I connect, listen and communicate with diverse people?
  5. Responsible Decision-Making: How do I make informed choices while considering how this will affect me and those around me?

Participants began by thinking about our personal identities and how they are informed by our experiences and our chosen and inherited family values. Following our daily warm-up and introduction, we created accordion culture books to give us a baseline for thinking about self awareness, and continued working on these books throughout the workshop. In order to take time to appreciate the process of learning and consider our work so far, we participated in a group gallery walk and reflection.

During our unit on Social Awareness, we performed our oral family histories through storytelling and embroidered mapping. After ruminating on the ways in which our divergent and personal stories gathered together at our point of contact – Oklahoma – teachers choreographed their collective family stories and performed them for the rest of the group. It became clear during reflection that building a culture of community becomes possible through the sharing and receiving of stories, and that we learn how to connect in the process of realizing what makes us different and what makes us similar. Additional theatre and movement-based activities were utilized throughout the workshop in order to offer kinesthetic and embodied ways to reflect on and engage in the core competencies of SEL.

Over the course of our sessions on self management, relationship skills, and responsible decision making, we explored multiple techniques for self portraiture using methods such as recycled collagraph prints, transparency portraits using lines that make our faces unique, and empathy portraits on vellum. To help build our visual arts skills, we practiced observational drawing techniques and considered the ways in which visual signals like lines could be characterized using all of the senses. At the end of the workshop, we layered our portraits in different mediums together to create a cover for our culture books.

On the final day of the workshop, participants reflected once again on the characteristic of storytelling utilizing graphic novels and Visual Thinking Strategies, as well as theatre activities such as The Moment Before. We then participated in a large-group Circle Story, pulling vocabulary from value words and personal characteristics that we had shared previously in the workshop. We added depth and meaning to the story by re-telling our narrative and introducing colors and emotions. We completed the workshop with an experimental painting activity in which participating educators were asked to create abstract, mixed-media artworks by following a series of instructions without knowing the expectations for the project’s end result. Following the activity, we reflected on what the process had felt like by discussing how decision-making is impacted by circumstances, and how we can help to empower and prepare our students to make impactful decisions knowing that they will not always know where those decisions may lead.

We closed the activities with a final group performance, utilizing performance-based techniques and strategies learned throughout the institute in order to communicate their closing thoughts and experiences. The process of learning and engaging was captured by facilitators and participants collaboratively through a Learning Wall, Youth in Art’s adaptation of the Making Learning Visible (MLV) process. Participants left the institute with access to arts-based resources created to help engage educators in practical skills for developing and fostering communication and collaboration, thereby creating more opportunities to empower student voice and identity in any classroom. 

Resources

Painting Sculptures and Exploring Color

TK Students at Short Elementary School spent a lively morning painting their shape sculptures with Youth in Arts’ Mentor Artist Cathy Bowman and teacher Maggie Dawes.

During the previous week, the young artists practiced naming their shapes and building sculptures out of circles, squares, rectangles and triangles cut from foam core. When the sculptures were dry, they chose two primary colors to investigate what would happen when they mixed them.

There were “oohs” and “ahhs” around the room as students discovered red and blue make purple and blue and yellow make green. Using flat brushes, students worked hard to get paint in all the corners to cover everything.

As the sculptures dried, we talked about how many different purples and greens we saw. The lesson provided good opportunities for reflection and for looking at art through a math problem: blue + yellow = ?

For students who did not attend preschool, it was the first time they had ever painted. Large brushes with long handles created good opportunities for fine motor skills practice. The children who were absent will use the third primary combination next week, combining red and yellow to make orange.

New Student Board Member Megan Bober

Megan Performing

Youth in Arts is thrilled to welcome Megan Bober as our student board member! Megan has been a musician most of her life, she’s played the piano since age 7, but for years she didn’t like to perform in public. “In middle school, I discovered how happy singing made me, and wanted to do it as much as possible, but couldn’t figure out where to pursue my passion along with other kids like me” she said. That is when she discovered ‘Til Dawn, “In 8th grade I went to their spring show,” she recalls. “As soon as I saw them sing, and saw how much fun they had together, I set being a part of ‘Til Dawn as my goal.” Now a Junior at Redwood High School, Megan has been in the group 3 years and says, “’Til Dawn and Youth in Arts have been the most important part of my high school years. I have found a second family amongst kids and adults who are as passionate about music and singing as I am.”

Megan Bober

Megan looks forward to working with the board, sharing her unique perspective and conveying, “how important music and art can be to the emotional and intellectual support and growth of people my age.” She has also learned a great deal about Youth in Arts’ advocacy work and, “became passionate about how the organization ensures young people throughout Marin have access to the arts.”

Megan was fortunate enough to have great arts access both at home, through her piano lessons and regular museum visits, and at San Domenico where she attended school from pre-K though 5th grade.  “I was given art and music education every day,” she shares. “While at that time I was not pursuing singing, I believe the importance placed on art and music, and the exposure that I was given, laid the foundation for my intense interest in music now. I also think that my early art and music education helped me to be a more creative person in writing and performance.”

We are thankful to have Megan’s passion and creativity on the Youth in Arts board.

Olive Elementary Explores Art & Mark-Making

 

Mentor Artist Tracy Eastman worked with Olive Elementary students through Youth in Arts’ Arts Unite Us residency program.  Tracy says of her time: “I absolutely enjoyed teaching these two Visual Arts classes at Olive Elementary!”

Throughout the residency program, students worked on recognizing and understanding emotions, material exploration, and collaboration. In a special project called “Empathy Portraits”, Each student was given a standing mirror to look at themselves while they made various facial expressions. We would evaluate what our faces looked like discussed some of the possible emotions these expressions could signal, noticing what shapes our eyes, nose, mouth and even eyebrows make with that expression. All of the students really responded to this project, and in sharing facial expressions together, we were abel to connect with what emotion could look like on our own faces as well as those of our peers. This activity helped participants connect with their own reflections, which can be a big request for many students.

In subsequent classes, students worked with materials such as tempera paints using tempera watercolor cakes. In order to engage everyone, we used tools used of varying sized paint brushes and Q-tips. This project focused on color mixing and experimentation with lines, dots, and blending. The canvas board lent itself well to the students that tend to use a lot of pressure or rework one area of the painting many times. The Q-tips were a great adaptive tool for creating dots and small marks, and also bend and broke if the student used too much pressure, encouraging students to regulate their use of force. One of the classes had additional time for their paintings and so added colored pencil into the wet paint to see what would happen. Additional projects revolved around experimental application processes, such as the “Wandering Ink Painting” activity in which we applied ink on a water-treated paper surface and blew the ink around the canvas in order to create patterns.

We completed the residencies with a collaborative “Tape-Resist Tempera Stick Painting”, and tissue-paper landscapes inspired by gardens.

 

 

 

 

 

Confidence and Compassion through Creativity–Teacher PD

How can you develop a classroom that inspires students to be confident, compassionate, and creative? Special Day Classroom teachers from across the county spent the day with Youth in Arts exploring adaptive painting tools, learning to make accordion books from recycled file folders,  practicing the Brain Dance in countless ways, looking at learning styles through the lens of strength, and Making Learning Visible and more.

Of course we moved, as we explored the brain dance, embodying vocabulary words, strategies for engaging reluctant participants, and even engaging the brain through doodling.

Making Learning Visible (from Harvard’s Project Zero) is a great way to visualize learning, understanding, and next steps.

Gallery Walks (on any subject or body of work) encourage thoughtfulness, deeper thinking, reflection, and patience.

Through the California Department of Education’s Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) grant that the Marin County Office of Education received, Youth in Arts was in multiple Special Day Classes this spring.

Exploring Art at San Jose Middle School

Mentor Artist Tracy Eastman says of her Arts Unite Us Residency at San Jose Middle School: “The students explored art in very creative ways!”

“Texture Collage Boards” —  Our first class project was all about textures. Each student was given contact paper with the adhesive side up (secured to white foam board) and choices of textured materials to add. We discussed what the materials felt like and described the feeling it gave, (i.e. soft, bumpy, rough, smooth, noisy/crunchy, hard, etc.). We then took oil pastels and drew across many of the textures. As the last step, we covered the remaining sticky areas with magic gold transfer foil. Some of the classes removed the white foam board from the back of the artwork and displayed them in the window, while others left them with the white background and hung them on the wall.

Our second class project was making stained glass window kites, which focused on creating shapes, working within borders and cutting with scissors. The students were given the same set up of contact paper placed on a white foam board, but with different instructions. Each student was given four strips of black construction paper to create a diamond shape on their contact paper and were given additional strips to add anywhere within the diamond’s borders. Within the spaces of the black strips, the students placed square pieces of colored and patterned tissue paper to further decorate their kites. The students then smoothed on a top layer of contact paper to seal the pieces in place and then cut them out, staying on the outside of the black diamond borders. Most students needed assistance and/or adaptive scissors, which were provided by the classroom teachers. Lastly, the students taped a yarn tail with a tissue paper bow to complete their kites. All of the students held up their kites and pretended to fly them around the room before they were hung in the windows.

During this residency program, we also focused on creating various marks on watercolor paper with tempera watercolor cakes and an array of adaptive tools. The tools ranged from paint brushes with variously shaped handles, sponges, roller sponges, silicone stamps, etc. Prior to adding paint with the adaptive tools, the students drew on their paper with oil pastels to create resistance artwork. Together, we talked about oil and water resist each other and how the oil will fight with the watercolor to show through. The students improvised on making marks with different parts of each tool. One student even used the foam roller as a hammer and made small circles on his page. We used these skills to work on three-dimensional and two-dimensional projects throughout the residency.

 

These programs were made possible with support from the following sources:

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