917 "C" Street
San Rafael, California 94901
(415) 457-4878
yia@youthinarts.org

Kids Create San Rafael History Mural

 

The young and talented artists have been working on this project with Mentor Artist, Brooke Toczylowski, since November. For more posts about this project click HERE. 

One of the ways the students transferred images onto the panels was to project their drawings or photos and then trace the shapes.

To the left Sonia and Declan transfer a photo of Sonia painting. This part of the mural  represents the students’ own history and connection to the present and future of San Rafael. It was inspired by Diego Rivera’s Mural at the San Francisco Art Institute, “Making a Fresco.”

Local Master Artist Kalen Meyer came to Youth in Arts to speak with the students and share her artistic process. She showed the evolution of how her painting has changed over the years, including many images from her series, “36 Views of Mt. Tamalpais,” which is the local mountain included in the mural.

Students had prepared questions the day before after looking at images by Master Artists  Tom Killion and Katsushika Hokusai (who is an inspiration for both Killion and Meyer.)

The young artists asked,

Do you use calm colors on purpose?

Do you ever paint a view or a place from that place, or do you always work from photographs?

How could we work on the background color of our mural?

After looking at Kalen’s work and going back to our mural the students found themselves inspired by her paint strokes and some of her techniques directly came out in the style of the mural.

 

What have you learned about yourself?

On Friday the group reflected on their experiences as a team and as professional muralists:

“I learned that working as a team is better and it’s faster and when you work alone it looks all the same but when you work with lots of people it looks [different], like the [paint strokes] are different.” – Rosvin 

“When I’m at home when I’m painting I’m alone in my room, but this so much more fun because you know you can be painting and then yell across the room and be like, ‘hey!’” – Sonia

Something that doing this project has brought to me is…I made lots of new friends like Stefania and Jessica, and it made me also much closer to my good friends.” – Declan 

“What I learned is that we had a community here. Like when we were [painting] Charles it was Natalie and then Stefania joined in and then Joselyn and me, too. We all did it together.” – Jessica 

STAY TUNED! In June the mural will be installed on the Youth in Arts building. A gallery exhibit and community celebration will illustrate the mural process and celebrate the young artists’ hard work. 

THANK YOU to all parents, artists, and volunteers that made this project possible.

And THANK YOU to Whole Foods, who provided much of the snacks and lunches for the kids during the week.

 

 

 

Mural Team Tours Downtown San Rafael

Part of the mural team poses in front of the historic Mission bells. Students have decided that the current San Rafael Mission steeples will be depicted in the mural. For more information about the history of the Mission go to the Marin History Museum.

At the Boyd Gate House, home of the Marin History Museum, students pulled out their art journals, in which they sketched and took notes of their discoveries. Students were particularly drawn to the Marin at War! exhibition, in which there were various service uniforms on display. Louise Arner Boyd was an arctic explorer and photographer from San Rafael, who will also be depicted in the historic mural by the students.

  Next students visited the Falkirk Cultural Center, a historical 1888 San Rafael landmark which now presents contemporary art exhibitions. Students found themselves inspired by the prints on display in the galleries and enjoyed walking around the beautiful grounds, filled with sculptures and gardens.

At the corner of 4th Street and C streets students were given photographs or drawings of historical landmarks that still exist or used to exist on each of the four corners. They used visual clues to  figure out which historical image matched each corner.

Arguably the most historical piece of real estate in downtown sits at the northwest corner of 4th and C streets, where Timothy Murphy lived, and which was used later as the courthouse.  Murphy, who was named San Rafael’s first informal mayor, won a large land grant from the Mexican Government in 1844 and built his adobe house in downtown. He was a boisterous Irishman who reportedly spoke Miwok and Spanish , and who loved to have parties. San Rafael Day was born when church goers would go to Sunday mass at the Mission and walk over to Murphy’s house for afternoon drinks, food, and games. The Bank of Italy building now sits in the same location, built in the late 1920s. For more information check out the Early San Rafael History book on Google Books.

THEN: Bay View Livery and Stables, 1870s

NOW: Youth in Arts, 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

The tour ended with us back at Youth in Arts, 917 C Street, where the final mural will be installed. The building was used as a livery and purchased by Neil MacPhail in the 1870s. Horses and carriages, including the famous Tally-ho were rented out to customers. When cars became the prominent mode of transportation the MacPhails ventured into the fuel business and later into appliances. The building is still owned by the MacPhail family and evidence of the passage of time fills the building. Beautiful sturdy wood beams hold up the warehouse in back,  a manual  horse elevator was used to bring the horses to the second floor stables, and elegant antique appliances adorn the attic.

 

Artists as Researchers

“Paintings are but research and experiment. I never do a painting as a work of art. All of them are researches.” (Pablo Picasso)

Can art making be a form of hands-on research? What can we learn from our experiments and explorations?

How can we discover new things about our themes and about ourselves through making art?

Working with Mentor Artist Brooke Toczylowski the Mural Team at Davidson has been researching – both the history of San Rafael and painting.  Toczylowski has studied Arts Based Research with Julia Marshall and Kimberley D’Adamo at San Francisco State University.

As they get ready to create the mural students are digging deep into both content and technique. Students use their art journals as a place to express, experiment, document, and learn.

To start their research the artists learned how to make a mind map in which they focused on what they already know about their chosen theme. For example, a student asks herself, “What do I already know about the Miwoks?” and “What do I want to know?”

Using resources from historical books, the internet, and oral histories from the Marin History Museum, students began their reading and researching. They created pages in their journals in which image and text intertwine and interact. Having such an open format allows them to make the content personal and relevant to their own lives.

In addition to historical research the artists are also experimenting with different paints and techniques. At the end of each session together students share what they’ve discovered support each other in their next steps.

Seventh Graders Focus on Thinking Skills

In their new research workbooks students developed critical thinking skills used by both Artists and Historians. They described the visual elements they noticed in a photograph, analyzed images by making educated hypotheses with supportive evidence, compared and contrasted photographs, and made connections between an arts process and a historical concept.

EVIDENCE – What do you SEE? What do you NOTICE? In one column students were asked to create a list of observations while looking at this historical photo.

“a building”     “it’s in black and white”    “the sillouette of a man”

“an ice cream shop”    “American flags”   “a horse and carriage”

“a crowd of people”

In the next column they were asked to answer the question, What do you THINK? This was their HYPOTHESIS about the photo. The students defined hypothesis from their knowledge of science class – “an educated guess,” meaning they had to provide evidence for their theories.

At least someone in all 10 classes guessed the 4th of July, which is what this photo represents, from the year 1898! Next, students got to see the contemporary photo of the same location taken just a few weeks ago. They compared and contrasted the two photos, describing what has changed and what has stayed the same.

” The clothes people are wearing has changed. In the new photo there’s someone wearing jeans.”

“There are cars and stop-lights in modern times and in 1898 you traveled with a horse and carriage.”

” I think there’s something the same about the architecture of the building – the window on the edge is popping out.”

Then students started to make personal connections and someone yelled out, “Wait, that’s 4th Street and C Street!” “Oh yeah- That’s Sabor of Spain!” “I’ve been there!” Ah Ha, the moment of discovery! Students begin to use clues from the knowledge they have outside of school.

Next students created a layered artwork using historical and contemporary photos of San Rafael. They traced contour lines of either the past or the present and overlapped it on the image they didn’t trace.

This action created a conversation or visual relationship between the two time periods, allowing students to see what had changed and what had stayed the same, but also thinking about the layers of history. These layers of history are similar to the layers of of a painting. Often things are covered up and you have to look closely to see what’s changed, and to see the truth.

Students reflected on their arts-process and discussed how it made connections to what they were studying in history.

Historical Thinking Lesson Plan, PDF created by Brooke Toczylowski.