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Families, Fun and Art at Walker Rezaian Show Opening

How do you open a show when your art gallery is closed temporarily? By hosting a virtual celebration for your community with a drawing lesson, story time and fabulous self portraits.

Youth in Arts joined families, friends and staff at Laurel Dell Elementary School to celebrate Imagining Friendship, our annual show that honors Walker Rezaian. The online exhibit featured a  slideshow of more than 90 self portraits and emotions studies by kindergarten and first grade students

The Walker Rezaian Creative HeArts program was at Laurel Dell and Short schools last Fall. The visual arts residency builds fine motor, literacy and social emotional skills through art making. It also helps children learn how to make and keep friends while practicing sharing and empathy.

Friday’s celebration began with a bilingual drawing lesson with Youth in Arts Mentor Artist Cathy Bowman. Joining us were kindergarten teachers Alejandra Vazquez and David Peterson, and first grade teacher Vanessa Nunez. Together we explored what it’s like to make and then draw different expressions. How does your face look when it is happy? What about angry?

Principal Pepe Gonzalez delivered a sweet and funny message with help from his young sons and talked about the importance of creating visual art, music and dance while sheltering in place.

“If we weren’t creative, we’d be pretty bored right now because we’re usually in our pajamas,” he said.

Gonzalez, who heads both Laurel Dell and Short schools, praised Youth in Arts for making sure “creativity stays alive” while students are forced to stay home. He noted that Youth in Arts Visual Arts Director Suzanne Joyal assembled art kits for every student at both Laurel Dell and Short schools.

Our thanks also go to author Susan Katz, who read her book “All Year Round” in English and Spanish. It was fun to know the Principal Gonzalez had her as a teacher when he was in school!

We wrapped up the evening with a slide show of the self portraits accompanied by music from ‘Til Dawn,  Youth in Arts’ award-winning a cappella troupe.

Suzanne encouraged viewers to check out the cool coloring pages made from the students’ self portraits. The portraits will be viewable online until May 31. They can be printed out, colored and put in your window to share with your neighbors, and you can find them here:

Emotions Sketches Coloring Pages 1st Grade
Portraits Coloring Pages 1st Grade
Portraits Coloring Pages Kindergarten [Rm 3]
Portraits Coloring Pages Kindergarten [Rm 4]

Suzanne also thanked the Rezaian family for making this wonderful program possible.

“You can say thank  you to them in your own way by being a good friend to those around you and creating something every day,” she said.

A special thanks to Tracey Wirth Designs for turning the portraits into coloring pages; to our translators: Alejandra Vazquez, Vanessa Nunez and Peter Massik; and to Principal Gonzalez and the staff at Laurel Dell for making this program such a success.

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