917 "C" Street
San Rafael, California 94901
By YIA Mentor Artist Sophie Cooper
by Mentor Artist Sophie Cooper
How long does it take for one to become an author, rather than a consumer, of images and stories? For 5th and 6th graders at Harding Elementary, it only took 8 weeks! Students started out learning how images communicate, and recognizing that the images surrounding us on a daily basis are telling us stories and infusing meaning into our lives. We spoke about being aware of how images communicate stories, and that we can choose to agree or disagree with the values embedded within these stories. Brainstorming as a class, we then created a treasure chest of values: things most precious to the students that they want to protect.
It was very inspiring to observe the students actively declaring what was most important to them and arriving at the jewel that would be the themes of their personal stories! Once they had decided on a theme, students were guided through a process of story development using traditional components of storytelling.
Equipped with their new tools of media literacy (understanding how images communicate) and outlines of stories they wanted to tell, students began searching for images on the Internet and assembling their stories using a basic video editing program. Students did a phenomenal job navigating the editing software, and many students quickly found their own way, adding effects and transitions!! Even students who had not had extensive computer experience prior to the project were able to follow the simple steps and assemble found images into a short video.
As we screened the completed projects for the classes, I observed the excitement dancing in students’ eyes while watching the stories their classmates had created. It is the same dancing excitement with which they watch a TV commercial or a video clip on the internet: the innocent curiosity of what is next, the enchantment of flickering light that lures us all to cinemas. The only difference now was that rather than absorbing a message put in place by a large corporation or production studio, they were attentively watching messages created by their peers. They were discovering a new way to communicate, a new way to listen to one another.
Mentor Artist Angela Baker worked with Fourth Graders incorporating VAPA standards about proportion and additive and subtractive sculptural techniques to translate 2-dimensional drawings into 3-dimensional forms.
Students invented animals. First drawing them with colored pencil.
Then learning various clay techniques to create sculptures. For the culminating project students created an accordion book about their invented animals.
Students began by doing Gesture Drawing & then translated their Drawings into Wire Action Figures.
2D turning to 3D
Building with clay
In addition to learning about line, form and color, classes explored themes such as community and being yourself to coincide with themes from of the play Lydia and the Other World, that the students wrote with Mentor Artist Thomas Arndt.
Many thanks to the Thomas J. Long Foundation for their support of “Arts Unite Us” at Harding Elementary.
Parading with Florencia “Fofo” Pierre
Short School parents and students celebrated the culmination of their Haitian Music & Dance program with a schoolwide performance, parade and dance party on Tuesday, March 18th. For sixteen weeks, students in grades K-2 have been working with Mentor Artists Djenane St. Juste, Florencia “Fofo” Pierre and Jeff Pierre to learn music and dances associated with the celebration of Kanaval or Carnaval, a major midwinter celebration in the Caribbean. Students have also learned words and expressions in both French and Haitian Kreyòl languages. On this beautiful Tuesday morning, the students were able to share music and dances they had learned with over 70 parents, teachers and siblings!
Jeff Pierre with Short School drummers
Djenane introduced a dance game the children had learned in which they dance without touching a line that represents danger or “sobo”. As the children danced down the line faster and faster without touching it, parents in the audience helped with a call and response from the song Ti Gason (Little Boy) in which the dancers are told piga’w pile sobo, male va rive’w (roughly: “don’t step on danger or you will have trouble”).
Don’t step on the line!
A few parents and siblings even came up to try the dance on their own!
Parents, teachers and siblings try to dance “safely”
Next came a grand parade led by Fofo Pierre with students performing steps they have learned in their classes and teachers and some parents following behind as the “back line”. The grand finish was a circle dance with each class taking a turn dancing in the middle, followed by dancing parents and all the teachers!
Short School teachers dance in the circle
It was a fun event with a great parent turn-out. Thanks to all the students, staff and families of Short School, to Djenane, Fofo and Jeff for their terrific work with the students and to the California Arts Council’s Artists in Schools program for its support of this project.
Djenane St. Juste, Principal Pepe Gonzalez and Fofo Pierre
Last Art Walk Downtown Youth in Arts hosted our first Fandango Jarocho. It was fun! We had a bevy of wonderful dancers of all ages led in the traditional rhythms of son jarocho from Veracruz, Mexico. Led by Maestra Nydia Algazzali Gonzalez, a group of 30 students and adults played instruments, danced and sang verses in Spanish. The celebration was also a cross-cultural exchange as we were joined by the Haitian group Afoutayi with YIA Mentor Artists Jeff Pierre, Djenane Saint Juste and Mama Fofo.
Amiel and Ian dancing La Iguana.
After the community workshops, we were joined by local soneros Catherine John Hudson on violin and Joel Ramirez on the Jarana and Guitarra de Son. We played a selection of traditonal sones accompanied by children and adults who danced and played along. If you stuck around until the end, you would have caught a glimpse of Ian Daly and Amiel Gonzalez debuting their performance of the Iguana!
We look forward to the next Art Walk Downtown on December 13, when we will be making artist trading cards to accompany the new gallery exhibit “Imaginary Voyages–Using Art to Understand Science.” See you then!
This past weekend May 17 & 18 Arts Unite Us premiered an original production which combined educator Ben Cleaveland’s advanced theatre students and students from educator Michael Lovejoy’s Special Day Classroom. Students engaged in a collaborative theatre program, written, created, designed and performed by the youth under the leadership of Youth in Arts Mentor Artist Melissa Briggs. The packed performances received standing ovations and praise from all involved.
Tam High student creators Victor, Glyn, Julia, Jake, Cate, James, Maribel have some words to share with you about their experience writing, directing, producing and performing as an integrated ensemble of young artists from Conservatory Theatre Ensemble and Marin County Office of Education!
“We took two of the most atypical programs in the county, and mashed them together, and it was extraordinary.”
At the beginning, “I was a little afraid of making new friends. I wasn’t sure we would get a long but by week two I felt so welcomed into the process.”
“I liked rehearsing, all the exercises and breaking up the scenes.” Working hard together in rehearsal was “one of the reasons the performance went so well. But even when things on stage didn’t go so well we were there for each other.”
“It went perfectly! I wasn’t nervous. For this one I wasn’t nervous coming into the process knowing whatever happened would happen and it will be great. Something different will happen and you have to react accordingly.”
“It was more about the process more than the product. That is something I’ve learned to value the most.”
Together on stage
My feeling in performance “its good!” I felt “happy”. But “the writing part. I like it cause the writing part was hard, the best.”
“I liked the acting part cause I like to dress up.”
Rehearsing a favorite scene
“It was a different experience. I felt really accomplished afterwards.”
One student was scared to go on stage for his cue with the packed audience. He finally worked up the courage and exited the stage whoop!ing it up! He said afterwards “I felt great! And happy! And I did my line!” He was also quick to praise his classmate’s funny delivery of his lines.
Another student praised her castmate too, “Maribel inspired me. I know she was always there for me on stage and as a writer.”
“I want to keep doing my lines!”
Actors playing campers
One of the co-directors had an interesting insight; before seeing the play some Tam High peers seemed to plan on “seeing it as if it was a kids show. It was like they didn’t really want to see or really think about it. I don’t know what to do to change that.” You want to know what to do to change that? You are doing it!
Other people would say our collaboration is going to be “so cute or sweet.” When people talked about the play preparation in a patronizing way “I got angry and stopped talking. It was discouraging.” Another said “you just have to see us working in rehearsal to know our work is just as hard, just as good!” But “The people who saw it and really thought about it, they loved it. They felt something. One guy said he had a horrible day and our play made him happy! They saw we worked so hard for so long together. We made people think and feel something! And I think that’s like the whole point of theatre.”
A moment backstage
Feedback on campus was super positive all around. “A lot of people say they heard it was good even if they didn’t see it. People were really talking about it, like, everywhere. Everyone said it was really entertaining to watch.” The audience “liked the ensemble aspect of it. How we were there for each other.”
Castmates and friends
“Everyone was so generous with themselves. Everyone put their peers before themselves but still worked hard on their work, their part of the pie. I think the world could use a little more of that. We put so much of ourselves and risked so much and the audience got to see that.”
“I know what we should do for our next play…”
Well… this project may be over, but high school students of all abilities from across the Bay Area are invited to apply for admission to a groundbreaking new integrated Dramatic Art Project (iDAP). This two-week intensive will be led by a professional artist and will culminate in a live multi-media performance. This is the beginning of the Youth in Arts Performance Company.
Your world isn’t typical.
Your art shouldn’t be either.
Exceptional young people with diverse experiences and abilities collaborate to produce an original piece of dramatic art. Explore elements of playmaking and filmmaking in this exclusive intensive at Youth in Arts in San Rafael this summer. Create an impactful live performance using forms of theatre and digital filmmaking.
Mentor Artist Melissa Jones Briggs will guide a small ensemble of students as they explore their collective authentic dramatic voice. Young artists will also work with professional guest artists to create, design, produce and perform an original piece of dramatic art. The Project meets at Youth in Arts Studio in San Rafael July 22nd - August 2nd, M-F, 10AM-3PM.
Many voices, one story: come share yours!
Apply @ youthinarts.org/idap
On Sat. May 25th, the Marin City Recreation Department & The Hood Games present another day of skateboarding, youth performances, music, art-making & community love. The 12 noon – 4 p.m. event is all about keeping our youth safe, active & creative. Local co-sponsors include: Youth In Arts, Prooflab Skateshop, Triumph Skateshop, Marin City Health & Wellness Center, Marin City Health & Human Services, CA4Health, Venture Trucks & Big Thanks to S-One Skate Helmets! – Let’s Roll!!!
This Fall, Youth in Arts Mentor Artist Angela Baker worked with 5 classes of second graders at Bahia Vista Elementary on a very special project called “Mary’s Gift” to commemorate a much loved and dearly departed colleague, Mrs. Mary Donovan-Kansora.
Each class focused on one character trait that was important to Mrs. Donovan-Kansora and that she felt were important for second graders: Respect, Responsibility, Compassion, Self-Control and Perseverance. A piece of art reflecting each character trait would then be created and displayed at the school for all to see.
Over the course of six weeks each class developed content around their theme through group discussion, visualization and writing. Through a variety of media, such as marker, crayon and paint children developed skills in the areas of drawing and color mixing. These skills plus some of their writings were combined to create a series of different but connected 44″X30″ mixed media pieces reflecting each of the above character traits.
The work or the students will be featured in a gallery exhibit at 917 C Street in downtown San Rafael, from February 8-April 1. Please join us on Friday, February 8th, 5-8pm for the Opening Reception and Art Walk Downtown.
Message to Our Community
Mentor Artist K-Dub Williams has designed a year-long project with the teachers of Willow Creek Academy which will culminate in PSA’s by “Elder Avatars” (unique masks created by each teacher). The first Professional Development Workshop explored answering the question “How can we use what we create to inspire Youth and Community?”
We began with theater exercises designed to engage the whole body in the creative process. Teachers were asked to think of a word that represented the superpower their own personal superhero might possess: Listening, Strength, Caring, Inspiration.
When people were warmed up, we moved on to visual arts and began to brainstorm on our “Elder Avatar”. How do we design our masks to visually represent the characteristics of our personal character? First, we worked in paper. We practiced patterns, symmetry, cutting, and attaching pieces securely.
Next time, we move into cardboard and plaster.
Large ears represent a good listener.
Creating a Community SuperHero: Expressing character and a positive message through physical movements.
Collaborating to Create a Tableau Vivant: each person's pose represented the word they contributed to the group's message.
[singlepic id=477 h=290 float=left]Students and families from San Pedro Elementary School in San Rafael visited Youth in Arts on Friday for the opening of our latest exhibit Cholq’ij–Voices of Our Ancestors. The exhibit and community event were part of a special project with Mentor Artists Ernesto Olmos, Mayra Hernandez and Miguel Martinez supported by the Creative Work Fund.
The special event, which was also open to the public as part of 2nd Fridays Art Walk, included a ceremony with the artists and an opportunity for students to explore traditional instruments and ceremonial objects. Families had a chance to sample a wide range of nutritious foods and beverages based on indigenous plants, and each child received a take-home copy of a CD created by the artists to tell the story of the Cholq’ij. Visitors could also identify their own Cholq’ij day sign or nahual and create an “engraved” necklace at a hands-on activity table.
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The Cholq’ij exhibit, which runs through November 23, includes work by San Pedro students and by Ernesto Olmos incorporating traditional iconography. The exhibit also includes a display on natural plant-based medicine and a video featuring natural medicine practitioner Marya Hernandez, along with a listening station in English and Spanish featuring the audio from the CD.
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School and youth groups can book a FREE special tour of the exhibit, including a hands on art activity (reservations required). The gallery at 917 C Street in San Rafael is also open to the general public Monday-Friday from 10 am-4 pm. We will be open late on Friday, November 9 for 2nd Fridays Art Walk.
For more photos from this special event, click here.