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

Engaging Through Art

 

With so much change happening in our world, art is a powerful tool for self expression.We’ve been moved by photos of people making art from the simplest materials. Flower petals turned into hearts. Food crumbs that inspired a face. Drying dishes? A quick still life.

In communities throughout the Bay Area, people have written messages in sidewalk chalk. Tiny hands have scrawled signs of encouragement in the window. Children have made morning altars of gratitude from flower petals and leaves. One family made their own giving tree, hanging it with tags suggesting ways to support Black Lives Matter. In another neighborhood, children painted rocks of hope and nestled them in the trunk of their old palm tree.

Morning altars

Morning altar in Novato

How does art show up in your life and sustain you in uncertain times? How can art support equity in your community? If you are making art, where are you making it, who are you making it for, and why?

Photo credit: Thanks to artist Nathalie Valette (blue plate, drying dishes and tree tags); artist Eve Aldridge (chalk message), and to the artists who made the hearts and altar.

Get Creative on your Walk Around the Block

Morning altar made by Novato kids

By now you’re probably wearing grooves in the pavement when you get out for fresh air. We’ve seen the blocks around our houses plenty of times! Need ideas to get creative? Here are a few: Morning altars. Please check out morningaltars.com with artist Day Schildkret to learn more about the healing power of nature art altars. You can gather fallen petals, twigs and leaves as you walk around. For more inspiration, check out British artist Andy Goldsworthy. When you get home, think of how to make your own design. What are you grateful for? Signs of Beauty. Thankfully, the flowers aren’t quarantined. What signs of beauty do you see? What’s different from the last time you walked? Look at the colors, shapes and lines to get you started. How is Spring waking up the earth? Sound Walk. How have the sounds changed in your neighborhood since shelter-in-place began? What do you hear now – or not hear? Are there more birds? Less traffic? Nature Rubbings. Watch Youth in Arts’ Program Director Kelsey Rieger’s Facebook lesson how how to make an amazing landscape using rubbings. Or tear up your rubbings and make a collage of your street. What shapes do you see? Where do you see warm colors like red and yellow, and where do you see cool colors, like blue and green? How do they mix? Fill a Neighborhood Need. Many neighbors are sewing face masks for others. What do you see that you can do? Sweep up a neighbor’s leaves by the driveway? Wave hello? Safely reach out to someone who may need checking on. We love to hear from you! Please share your ideas of how to walk creatively.

Powerful Collaboration at the West End Village Celebration!

On a warm November afternoon, Youth in Arts welcomed over 120 community members to participate in collaborative artworks at the West End Village Celebration in San Rafael. Artists of all ages created large-scale group paintings using primary colors – red, blue and yellow (plus white). Following the “Power of Sharing” lesson model from our visual art residency at Laurel Dell Elementary, we encouraged participants to share their colors and blend on the canvas to make any secondary colors.

The recent Public Safety Power Shut-off closed San Rafael City Schools for several days, so we felt it important to help community members, especially children, process their feelings through art. We presented the prompt: “Did you lose power in your neighborhood? How did it make you feel?” We then asked the artists to paint their response on the community murals. It was wonderful to see everyone working together to create something so beautiful.

In addition, community members who visited Youth in Arts’ booth responded to our prompt: “What makes your neighborhood powerful?” We asked participants to draw or write their response with Sharpie pen on colorful squares of hand-dyed watercolor paper, and later turned them into a community collage.

You can add to our collage, see the collaborative paintings, and more wonderful artwork from our 2nd grade residency at Laurel Dell Elementary in our current exhibition, Kids Imagine Our World: In My Neighborhood. The show will be on view in the YIA Gallery through December 6th!