Friends come in all shapes and sizes!
“Imagining Friendship” is at the YIA Gallery in San Rafael through May 24. The show features the colorful self portraits by kindergarteners and first graders at Laurel Dell Elementary School. The work was part of a residency this Fall with Youth in Arts’ mentor artists Suzanne Joyal and Cathy Bowman.
The Walker Rezaian Creative HeArts exhibition is now in its fifth year. The show celebrates the life of 5-year-old Walker Rezaian and his love of the arts. The show is part of a program funded by the Rezaian family.
“This is an exciting show that celebrates friendship in all its forms,” said Youth in Arts’ Executive Director Miko Lee. “The exhibition also features a wonderful cardboard for exploring. The exhibit shows families that art can be made from anything.”
As a backdrop for the show, Joyal and Bowman built a kid-sized, interactive cardboard world with tunnels to crawl through and doors to open. There are windows to look in and out of and a cardboard word game to encourage visitors to read and write. The show also features a giant word tower made from cardboard boxes inspired by the work of artist Corita Kent. The cardboard was generously donated by Sunrise Home.
Youth in Arts is also excited to announce the opening of its new ART LAB, housed in the YIA store. The ART LAB is open during regular Youth in Arts’ hours, Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
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!
Youth in Arts welcomed our wonderful new Program Director, Kelsey Rieger earlier this month. Kelsey has served as a community gallery manager, museum educator, and volunteer teacher. Most recently she was the Curator of Education at the Palmer Museum at Penn State University, where she received her Masters in Arts Education.
Thanks to her parents, Kelsey, a Southern California native, grew up with excellent access to the arts. “I was fortunate enough to have been gifted access to cultural institutions and the arts from a very young age, granting me entry into the perspectives, values, and aesthetics of people I had never met and places I had never been.” She explains, “I took art lessons every week, learned to play musical instruments, and spent weekends attending theatrical performances because my parents felt that this exposure would help me grow into a compassionate and capable adult. The arts were ingrained in every aspect of my life, and from these experiences I learned the value and humanity of creativity.” Recognizing that although her arts education was plentiful, many others’ is scarce, eventually led Kelsey to pursue a career in the field, “With time and perspective, I have grown to realize that my upbringing was a wonderfully privileged one and that many people suffer from inequitable access to arts resources across the country and throughout the world. It was this increased awareness and a deep-seated desire to provide every child with the same opportunities to grow with the arts that I had, which ultimately led me to my profession as an arts educator.”
Her drive to bring all arts to all students, makes her a fantastic fit for the role of Program Director. “I have always believed that at its core, art is a malleable and necessary discipline that helps us investigate, interpret, and engage with the world around us. Having worked closely with students in the process of creative expression and interpretation, I’ve witnessed the subtle power of the arts in promoting open mindedness and inspiring innovation as well as confidence in our youth and within society.” Acknowledging that arts education is too often undervalued, Kelsey passionately asserts that we need to do more, “Arts Education Administrators, community members, artists, and educators must work collaboratively across the institutional board to provide supplemental programming that is both accessible and relevant to students and people of all backgrounds. It is this need that initially interested me in the important work that Youth in Arts is doing, and I look forward to the opportunity to help propel their programs forward for the benefit of the community and the voices of our future generations.”
Though she doesn’t call herself an artist, Kelsey creates, and has long felt connected to the arts, “I have deep respect and admiration for the work that artists do. Having worked closely with many gifted artists devoted to creating and sharing their work with the world, I have never quite considered myself to be an artist. However, I was formally trained in the fine arts and have always found comfort in drawing and mixed-media sculpture. I enjoy the journey of making art and rely on it as a means of keeping my life balanced and healthy.”
We are thrilled to have Kelsey join our team. Her enthusiasm for her work is palpable, “I hope to find effective ways to apply my experience in public programming, community engagement, curriculum development, and evaluative research in order to keep growing YIA’s reach within the community!”
Thank you, Kelsey!
By Mentor Artist Cathy Bowman
Recently I worked with a team of San Rafael High School students as part of Italian Street Painting Marin. During a five-day workshop, artists learned to design, grid and create a chalk painting. The festival draws artists from all over the world, and this year’s theme –The Wonders of Space and Time – gave us a lot to think about.
“Space is the void of warmth and an engulfing darkness that is both terrifying and mystical at once,” wrote one of the YIA artists. “When I imagine space, I think of planets, stars and black holes. I think of the mysticality of space and the wonders it offers.”
While many artists painted important scientific figures, such as Stephen Hawking, our team created a montage of images. They called the piece, “Beautiful Chaos.” The painting showed space in the center. Around the edges, vines and roots of trees took over parts of earth polluted with items such as an old car, a discarded can and cigarette butts. A big challenge was decided what colors to use – and working in the heat! Students were flexible and generous with each other, making changes when necessary and helping each other along the way.
We are so grateful to TOAST Restaurant in Novato for exhibiting the beautiful portraits of past participants in the Walker Rezaian Creative Hearts Fund Kindergarten Art Project.
Every year Children work so hard to create their portraits as they study line, color, form, and emotion to create these wonderful works of art.
Portraits will be on display until May 30: stop in and take a look!
TOAST for breakfast lunch or dinner, 5800 Nave Drive, Unit G, Novato, CA 94949
Students at the Short School in San Rafael experimented with paint, paper and various materials as part of a grant from the Kennedy Center. Using a lesson plan titled “Motivated to Create … HARMONY,” Mentor Artist Cathy Bowman helped students translate jazz into paint.
The purpose of the lesson was to give students the experience of drawing on the inspiration of sounds as a foundation for their art. Working individually and in pairs, they listened to excerpts from “West Side Story” by composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein. Key vocabulary artists reviewed included “harmony,” “tone” and “abstract.” Using tempera paint, paper and canvas they listened, and painted what they heard. We considered how sound affects our feelings. Students were given an array of materials to use, including toothbrushes, corks, rollers, plastic packing material and forks. They practiced making marks, covering marks and making more marks. Working together was a good lesson in collaboration and respect … Is it ok to cover another artists’ marks?
Working in pairs allowed students to create multiple layers of color.
In the final session artists were given an 18 by 24 inch canvas. They tore up their smaller works on paper and reassembled the pieces into a collage on the canvas. They applied more paint and color while listening to music. Working outside for the final painting freed the young artists to move in ways that can’t happen in a carpeted classroom.
The last artist to work on the painting added a tiny touch of black, noting that she was thinking about her favorite fruit – blackberries. Can you find her mark?
Since Youth in Arts completed our new strategic plan this spring, we wanted to properly introduce our Mentor Artists to our more in-depth model, and to each other. Our artists work directly in the classrooms, so they rarely have a chance to interact. We hosted an “all artist meeting” in August, and it was wonderful to see them talk to, listen to, and learn from one another. Our icebreaker activity was a worksheet that asked the artists to identify a problem in the world today, and how they would use their art form to solve it (using words and/or pictures). The prompt was WITH MY ART I CAN…
“A problem I see in the world today is xenophobia. With my art I can…help people see the world through someone else’s eyes. A film can draw you into an experience of understanding that is registered through many senses simultaneously – sight, sound, emotions. This allows people to get a sense of how another person experiences the world. So often the fear of the unknown occurs by observing another’s experience and not being able to see beyond our own subjective viewpoint.”
BIO: Sophie’s undergraduate studies were interrupted in 1999 when she joined her brother working as a volunteer for a small organization in Kosovo called Balkan Sunflowers. Arriving only 3 months after Kosovo’s one million refugees returned to their destroyed homes, she began organizing cultural activities with the community’s youth. In 2001, together with a network of artists from Kosovo, she participated in the formation of the Crossing Bridges Collective to organize and annual trans-Balkan music and arts festival. Inspired to document these vibrant cultural events, Sophie began working as a video artist and then went on to refine her skills at the Film Academy of Prague, Czech Republic (FAMU). She then received a dynamic degree at the University of California at Berkeley combining both visual arts and critical social theory. Sophie’s work as an artist has developed hand and hand with her work as a community organizer. She has found that her favorite form of activism is that of visually celebrating the beauty of nature and the beauty of culture.
As an art teacher, Observational Drawing has become my favorite project. I have dozens of plastic animals that I have painted black to help artists focus on the lines and textures more than the “creature”. Plastic animals are a familiar toy, they are safe and fun to draw. Students learn to look closely, and let their eye tell their hand what to draw. They practice drawing what they see, not what they remember. After several weeks practicing lines in 2D and 3D, that are ready to go.
One class of animals is just not enough, so in our second day with them, we considered habitats, both real and imaginary. Mostly imaginary. Using an old map of the area, we drew more animals, colored them and cut them out, then worked together to create a habitat where everyone can live together in peace and color.
Youth in Arts thanks the Creative HeArts Fund and the Tamura and Rezaian families for their ongoing support for this program.
This activity is supported in part by the California Arts Council, a state agency.
This month, Youth in Arts C Street Project artists Christopher Do, Ayame Keane-Lee, Marikit Mayeno and Joselyn De Leon have been working with Mentor Artist Cathy Bowman to create an original comic book for Litquake San Rafael, as well as a giant-sized “walkable” illustrated story in our YIA Gallery in Downtown San Rafael.
On Saturday, October 8, C Street Project artists hand-colored dozens of copies of their finished comic book Floating with purple and yellow colors that are important elements of their story. They delivered the books to Blue Moon Comics, where Litquake visitors could pick up a free copy and follow a trail of footprints to YIA Gallery. At the gallery, visitors were able to illustrate their own ending to the story and participate in a workshop with Mentor Artist Cathy Bowman on comic book drawing and design techniques.
C Street Project artists also used a press to create original printed images, both to decorate the outsides of the comic book, and as bookmarks for YIA Gallery visitors to take home with them.
On Sunday, the young artists worked with Youth in Arts Mentor Artists to hand-enlarge their book pages to panels that now fill YIA Gallery. They hand-colored each panel and drew their own “bubble worlds” (another story element) which will be strategically hung from the ceiling.
On each “bubble world,” one side of the bubble shows a world the artist wants to see (i.e. a healthy natural world or engaging schooling for everyone) and the other side shows an aspect of the world they want to change (i.e. factories belching pollution or girls excluded from school).
Come visit C Street Project’s “Walkable Comics” exhibit free to the public at YIA Gallery through November 18, Monday through Friday 11 am to 4 pm.
We’ll also be open free to the public on Friday, October 14 and Friday, October 11 from 5-8 pm for Art Walk Downtown. If you’d like to bring your school or youth group on a private tour with a guided hands-on art activity, contact Jen Daly at email@example.com (reservations required).
Or see the show when you join us on Saturday, November 5 to “Paint, Print, Cut & Create” at our art-making studio fundraiser ($30 Teens & Adults and $10 Children–info and tickets at youthinarts.ticketleap.com)
Through the Walker Rezaian Creative HeARTS Fund, Mentor Artist Suzanne Joyal has been teaching friendship through visual art with all the kindergarteners at Loma Verde Elementary School.
We had so much fun with sculpting Model Magic, we decided to revisit the medium. This week, we looked at amazing photographs of flowers and plants, along with the beautiful glass sculptures of Dale Chihuly. We talked about how things grow in nature, and how artists reinterpret what we SEE, into what we IMAGINE!
Children were given small bases of mat board and chenille stems. We reviewed the techniques we learned a week earlier to build unique and magical plants.