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San Rafael, California 94901
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Art Expedition at Mary Silveira Elementary

I am working with the 5th Graders of Mary Silveira in San Rafael for an 18-week visual arts project in which our young student artists are creating scientific exploration journals and maps of imaginary islands. Along the way, we will develop our observational drawing skills, learn new drawing and watercolor painting techniques, map making, book binding, and other arts skills. Through this project, we are using visual art to apply the skills and knowledge we learn through the study of science and social studies.

The first three weeks were devoted to warm-up drawing exercises, team planning and sketching ideas, and creating the cover of our explorer sketchbooks with fancy decorating endpapers. Students are working in pairs and trios to develop their island environments. We also completed our first observational drawing, an enlargement of a button, using circular shading.

–Gabrielle Gamboa, Mentor Artist

Gabrielle Gamboa’s work with Mary Silveira students will be on exhibit this winter in our YIA Gallery exhibit “Imaginary Voyages” opening December 13 in downtown San Rafael and running through the end of January. For more information on how to book a free gallery visit and art activity for your class or youth group, click here or email us at





Building Community: K/1 Parents and Children Making Art Together

“A community is like a ship; everyone ought to be prepared to take the helm.”

– Henrik Ibsen

On Tuesday, September 28th, K/1 families from Bayside and Willow Creek schools gathered for a night of art making, sharing, collaborating, and reflecting.

The arts are a powerful way to cultivate relationships through creativity and collaborative endeavors. The Arts Specialists in the Sausalito Marin City School District are hoping to organize many arts workshops this year that encourage parents and children to feel proud of their school and school environment. These kinds of workshops are vital in bringing together community voice, and different approaches to seeing and making.

As families entered into the multi-purpose room they were welcomed by the question of:What is a Chair? And many images of chairs marched along the walls as inspiration for the evening. And families were asked to write down their definitions.

Dinner was prepared by the gardening intern, * Kelly Browning. There are gardens on all of the school campuses, and the tomatoes, onions, and zucchinis that were in the pasta sauces all came from these gardens. It was a beautiful feast, and a great time for families to sit and talk, and get to know one another.

* The gardening program is funded by a Milagro Foundation grant, and Growing Great is the organization that has been working with the K-8 students to create bountiful gardens. The program also is initiating a nutrition program into the school curriculum.

After dinner the art making began. Visual Arts Specialists Brooke Toczylowski and Ascha Drake first led the families through an exploration of line, shape, composition, edges, layering, and 2-dimensional vs 3-dimensional. We talked about how this was a “warm-up” and often artists need to warm up before embarking on a bigger project.

There was a steady “buzz” in the room as families transformed, tore, cut, envisioned, folded, and collaborated.

Each family was then given a brown paper bag filled with materials ranging from pipe cleaners to tin foil. The challenge was to create a collaborative chair that somehow visualized a family value, or a cultural connection. The chair could be 2-D or 3-D. The multi-purpose room was transformed into a studio space as people worked with all kinds of materials.

We then shared our creations as a group, recognizing the many different ways to make a work of art.

What do you want to do now?      “I want to do more art making as a family at home.”

What did you learn? “We learned to let art be art.”

What inspired you? “Simplicity.”