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San Rafael, California 94901
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Past, Present and Future: Teaching History Through Counter Narratives

Past, Present and Future: Teaching History Through Counter Narratives

Youth in Arts Mentor Artist, Eddie Madril (Robert Tong/Marin Independent Journal)

Arts based workshops to foster critical inquiry and civic engagement

Native American Resources from Mentor Artist Eddie Madril

Teaching Native Americans Past and Present

National Native American Museum Exhibit on Native Clothing
Ohlone Curriculum (pdf) Supplemental Resources by Dr. Beverly R. Ortiz, Ph.D.
Native Learning Styles (pdf) On adapting to different Native learning styles
Cultural Conservancy Protecting and restoring indigenous cultures and traditions.

Culturally Authentic Books

The Brown Bookshelf, designed to push awareness of the myriad Black voices writing for young readers.

The Conscious Kid Library is an education, research, and policy organization dedicated to reducing bias and promoting positive identity development in young children. They promote access to diverse children’s books that center underrepresented and oppressed groups.

Lee and Low Books, a family run company committed to publishing diverse books that are about everyone, for everyone. They are dedicated to cultural authenticity.

Diverse Book Finder, a database collection of more than 2,000 children’s picture books featuring people of color and Indigenous people.

Indigenous peoples

Only 1% of the children’s books published in the U.S. in 2016 featured Indigenous characters, and even fewer (1/4 of the 1% = 8 books total) were written by Indigenous authors. The following are by Indigenous authors.

First Nations Reading List – The staff members of First Nations Development Institute have compiled a list of what they consider to be essential reading for anyone interested in the Native American experience.

Elementary School

I Am Not A Number

by Jenny Kay Dupuis and Kathy Kacer, illustrated by Gillian Newland

When Irene is removed from her First Nations family to live in a residential school, she is confused, frightened and terribly homesick. She tries to remember who she is and where she came from despite being told to do otherwise.

You Hold Me Up

by Monique Gray Smith, illustrated by Danielle Daniel

Written to prompt a dialogue among young people, their care providers and educators about reconciliation and the importance of the connections children make with their friends, classmates and families.

Go Show the World: A Celebration of Indigenous Heroes    

by Wab Kinew, illustrated by Joe Morse

Celebrating the stories of Indigenous people throughout time, Wab Kinew has created a powerful rap song, the lyrics of which are the basis for the text in this beautiful picture book.

When We Were Alone

by David A. Robertson, illustrated by Julie Flett

When a young girl helps tend to her grandmother’s garden, she begins to notice things that make her curious. Why does her grandmother have long, braided hair and beautifully colored clothing? Why does she speak another language and spend so much time with her family?

Hiawatha and the Peacemaker

by Robbie Robertson, illustrated by David Shannon

Tells the story of Hiawatha, a strong Mohawk who was chosen to translate the Peacemaker’s message of unity for the five warring Iroquois nations during the 14th century. This message not only succeeded in uniting the tribes but also forever changed how the Iroquois governed themselves — a blueprint for democracy that would later inspire the authors of the U.S. Constitution.

Home to Medicine Mountain

By Chiori Santiago, illustrated by Judith Lowry

Two young brothers are separated from their family and sent to live in a government-run Indian residential school in the 1930s—an experience shared by generations of Native American children throughout North America. At these schools, children were forbidden to speak their Indian languages and made to unlearn their Indian ways. Sadly, they were often not able to go home to their families for summer vacation.  Native American artist Judith Lowry based this story on the experiences of her father and her Uncle Stanley.

Jingle Dancer

by Cynthia Leitich Smith, illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu

The affirming story of how a contemporary Native girl turns to her family and community to help her dance find a voice.

Tip: Cynthia Leitich Smith has written and/or illustrated many high quality children’s books.

We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga

by Traci Sorell and Frané Lessac

A picture book about gratitude, which features Cherokee words and the Cherokee alphabet. From celebrating “the ancestors’ sacrifices to preserve our way of life” to a Grandmother revealing what the Cherokee name of a newborn baby will be, the people give thanks.

Saltypie: A Choctaw Journey From Darkness Into Light

by Tim Tingle, illustrated by Karen Clarkson

Tells the story of the author’s family move from Oklahoma Choctaw country to Pasadena, TX. Spanning 50 years, Saltypie describes the problems encountered by his Choctaw grandmother — from her orphan days at an Indian boarding school to hardships encountered in her new home on the Gulf Coast.

Young Water Protectors: A Story About Standing Rock

By Aslan Tudor

At the not-so-tender age of 8, Aslan arrived in North Dakota to help stop a pipeline. A few months later he returned – and saw the whole world watching. Read about his inspiring experiences in the Oceti Sakowin Camp at Standing Rock.

Crossing Bok Chitto: A Choctaw Tale of Friendship and Freedom

by Tim Tingle and Jeanne Rorex Bridges

A fictional picture book inspired by true tales of Native Americans in the Southeastern United States aiding African Americans who were escaping slavery. In what is Mississippi today, the Bok Chitto river was the border between the Choctaw nation and a plantation. Before the Trail of Tears, if an enslaved person escaped into Choctaw land, the slave owner could not follow to catch him.

Middle School

The Birchbark House

By Louise Erdrich

This charming, yet unstintingly realistic novel tells the story of Omakayas, a girl whose name means Little Frog, who is growing up near Lake Superior in the 1840s. This makes a great companion series for those who love the Little House on the Prairie Books

The People Shall Continue

by Simon Ortiz and Sharol Graves

This groundbreaking tale of American Indian history, oppression, and resistance was first written in 1977 and was recently re-released for today’s children. In just 24 pages, this picture book powerfully shares history that spans from first contact with the Europeans to modern struggles against poverty and suffering.

High School

Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two

by Bruchac, Joseph

After being taught in a boarding school run by whites that Navajo is a useless language, Ned Begay and other Navajo men are recruited by the Marines to become Code Talkers, sending messages during World War II in their native tongue.

Tip: Joseph Bruchac has written many books for all ages, including multiple creation story books.

Love Medicine

By Louise Erdrich

Won the National Book Critics Circle Award, and introduced many of the characters that populated her subsequent books. The book spans sixty years and centers on the love triangle between members of the Ojibwa tribe living on the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation in North Dakota

Tip: Louise Erdrich has written an entire brilliant series based on these same characters.

Crazy Brave

By Joyce Harjo

In this transcendent memoir, grounded in tribal myth and ancestry, music and poetry, Joy Harjo details her journey to becoming a poet. Born in Oklahoma, the end place of the Trail of Tears, Harjo grew up learning to dodge an abusive stepfather by finding shelter in her imagination, a deep spiritual life, and connection with the natural world.

There, there

by Tommy Orange

Multigenerational story about violence and recovery, memory and identity, and the beauty and despair woven into the history of a nation and its people. It tells the story of twelve characters, each of whom have private reasons for traveling to the Big Oakland Powwow. Finalist for Pulitzer Prize. Local writer.

“Imagining Friendship” Opens at YIA Gallery

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.

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Visit Our New Art Lab!

Youth in Arts is excited to announce the opening of our new ART LAB at the YIA Gallery.

Located in the gallery’s store, the ART LAB is open during regular Youth in Arts hours  – Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and until 8pm during Downtown San Rafael’s 2nd Friday Art Walks. It’s free and open to the public for art-making activities linked to YIA exhibitions.

“In keeping with our mission of providing arts access to all learners, Youth in Arts is opening its doors to the community to explore its creativity,” said Miko Lee, executive director of Youth in Arts. “We’re providing free, hands-on art projects for all ages.”

Children will enjoy kid-sized tables where they can make art and explore materials. Each exhibition will also feature the artwork of one of Youth in Arts’ Mentor Artists. All artwork on view in the space will be for sale, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting Youth in Arts.

Suzanne Joyal’s work is currently featured and coincides with Imagining Friendship the Walker Rezaian Creative HeArts exhibition of self portraits by kindergarteners and first graders from Laurel Dell Elementary School in San Rafael. The colorful paintings were created during their Fall residency with Youth in Arts. As part of the exhibit, Youth in Arts’ staff have created a kid-sized interactive cardboard world with doors, tunnels and windows for exploring.

Both children and adults are welcome, but we kindly ask that all children be accompanied and supervised by their grownups.

Please come and visit us soon. Just look for our bright red wall!

Painting to Music at Rancho Elementary School

Pre-K students in the Ready, Set, Grow! program at Rancho Elementary School explored various tools while painting to music. Part of a sensory-rich arts experience for students with Youth in Arts’ Mentor Artist Cathy Bowman, this 10-week Rancho residency is part of the Arts Unite Us program.

Cathy says of her classes: “Recently, we painted to different pieces of music. We talked about how different music makes our bodies feel different things. First, we listened to  “Gymnopedie No. 1” by Erik Satie. Then we listened to a lively bit of Scott Joplin’s “Maple Leaf Rag.” Finally, we heard Duke Ellington play. It was fun to try different things to paint with, from creamy crayons to toothbrushes dipped in tempera paint. How does a sponge make marks differently from a roller? We used two colors of paint, pink and yellow-green, to explore mark making on sturdy mat board generous”.

Through the California Department of Education’s Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) Grant that Marin County Office of Education received, we are in multiple Special Day Classrooms. This residency is one of the programs that have benefitted from this collaboration.

 

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Mask Making at Novato High

Students at Novato High School and Sinaloa Middle School explored issues of identity and representation through mask making during 10-week residencies with Mentor Artist Cathy Bowman.

We began by painting glue onto a plastic mold taped to a piece of mat board, being careful to work to the edges. Then we chose scraps of tissue paper is colors that spoke to us. Some students chose a single color, while others preferred to use several colors. Every piece of tissue paper we touched, we had to tear.

We pressed the tissue paper onto the masks and added another layer of glue then let them dry. The following week we used metallic Sharpies. For this lesson we referred back to a project we did at the beginning, where we transformed five words about ourselves into different lines.  We used those lines as inspiration, repeating them on the masks.

 

 

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Lynwood Students Build Sculptures and Learn Pattern and Form

 

 

 

 

As part of Youth in Arts’ Arts Unite Us program at Lynwood Elementary in Novato, Pre-K to 2nd grade students worked with Mentor Artist Cathy Bowman to practice identifying and building with different shapes.

Cathy explains, “We used circles, squares, and rectangles to make 3-dimensional sculptures. This was a great way to reinforce geometric patterns that they are learning at school.”

Students used regular glue mixed with cornstarch to create an extra-sturdy bond that enabled shapes to “stand up” on the mat board base. Together, Cathy and her students worked through creative solutions to challenges such as balancing forms exactly the way they wanted them to sit.

Taking inspiration from artists such as Louise Nevelson, students finished their projects with monochromatic painting the following week.

“We used white or black paint to finish their sculptures,” Cathy says. “We used our paint brushes carefully to get into all the corners.

“The following week, students made observational drawings.  We looked carefully and closely at our shapes to draw what we see instead of what they think is there. After we used thick, water-soluable pencils, we applied a bit of water to make the lines come alive. This was a great way to practice using brushes gently – like a cat’s tail. We finished by writing our names at the bottom.

The lesson continued the next week with students practicing color mixing with tempera paint in red, blue and yellow and  creating paintings of their shape sculptures.

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Exploring Identity through Lines and Patterns at Novato H.S.

As part of Youth in Arts’ Arts Unite Us program, students at Novato High School explored identity with Mentor Artist Cathy Bowman. The 10-week residency kicked off with personal exploration, creating abstract self portraits using emotive and descriptive lines and shapes. The project was a fun and engaging way to asses where each of our new students was at and acted as a safe introduction to self-portraiture. By using materials that students were used to and tapping into our human love of doodling, we were able to start building a vocabulary around what a portrait and art can be.


We began by coming up with a list of five adjectives to describe ourselves – these adjectives could describe the things we liked, who we imagined ourselves to be, or what we were good at. Then we turned each word into a line by asking ourselves: “What kind of line is “curious”? What kind of line is “awesome”? How do we draw “grumpy”?” We explored these questions and more, thinking about the characteristics that we associate with certain words and what they might look like in our everyday lives. We then started our drawings by sketching in pencil as we brainstormed the visual meaning of each word we had chosen. For the final project using gold and silver Sharpies and black canvas boards, we made patterns using our lines. Some of us covered the entire canvas with linear patterns while others worked in a more freeform and organic way. We talked about issues of identity and what we choose to reveal about ourselves in our work and in our everyday lives.

 

Through the California Department of Education’s Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) Grant that Marin County Office of Education received, we are in multiple Special Day Classrooms. This residency is one of the programs that have benefitted from this collaboration.

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Paper Sculptures at Short Elementary School

As part of Youth in Arts’ Arts Unite Us program, Mentor Artist Cathy Bowman and students at Short Elementary School in San Rafael explored color, cutting, and three-dimensionality by making shape sculptures inspired by glass artist Dale Chihuly. We began by cutting a single piece of paper into three pieces, and then used oil pastels to add pattern to our cut pieces. We followed the oil pastels with watercolors, practicing and learning about the wax resist method by painting over the pastel to add more color. Once everything was dry, we completed the sculpture by cutting notches in our newly-designed paper pieces so everything fit together in a three-dimensional form. Together, we found that balancing our sculptures against gravity was the most challenging part, and it was a fun way to learn how to do it. The lesson built on previous lessons exploring pattern and shape, and continued to help develop and practice fine motor skills.

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

Students Play With Tints and Shades at Magnolia Park

Coleman Elementary School third graders practiced tints and shades using a cityscape inspired by the streets of San Francisco. With Mentor Artist Julia James, students began with a quick pencil drawing of seven different buildings with a foreground, middle ground and background.”We used blue or red tempera. Adding white made tints; adding black made shades. It was challenging to mix colors without using any water. If we mixed too vigorously, the paint was soaked up by the paper plate! In exploring shades and tints, we learned that the background is usually lighter than the foreground. Last week, we practiced painting with a round brush. For this project we used flat brushes and discovered they make different lines. It was great to have flat brushes for working in tight corners and around sharp edges. For the final step, we added windows and doors.”

Thank you to The Kennedy Center, Marin Community Foundation, and Marin County Office of Education for making these programs possible.

Making Matisse-Inspired Insects

Mentor Artist Julia James taught second graders at Coleman Elementary School how to create Matisse-inspired insects.

She began by introducing Matisse’s art, demonstrating how he often used colors and shapes to make large collages. Some of his work is as big as a wall!

Students worked together with Miss Julia to apply Matisse’s collage techniques to bugs. There was a lively discussion about the different parts of an insect and how to make each one. Students practiced their cutting skills as well as learning how to use a glue stick. Using a black background, they cut out the head, thorax and abdomen along with eyes, antennae, wings and legs. This reinforces what young artists are learning in their classrooms this year. It was also great practice in how colors look different depending on what is behind them or next to them.

 

 

 

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