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San Rafael, California 94901
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2nd Graders Build Thriving Neighborhoods

Second graders at Short and Laurel Dell elementary schools in San Rafael created vibrant collages showing what a healthy neighborhood needs.

We began by looking at the work of artists like Faith Ringgold and the late Romare Bearden. Working with Youth in Arts’ Mentor Artist Cathy Bowman, we used the “wax resist” method to write our names on watercolor paper and mixed blues and greens to paint a “cool” background. We talked about what a neighborhood needs to be strong and healthy, and what we need to be strong a healthy. Both classes included schools, libraries and homes of different sizes and shapes. There were some surprising additions too. At Short, one student suggested a carnival. At Laurel Dell, a student created a community art studio.

We then created collages, using only warm colors for our structures. That made them stand out when they were placed on the cool colored background. This gave us a chance to review what colors are warm, and what colors are cool. Once they were dry, we flipped them over and cut out our shapes. Details were added later with pastel and more paper. We looked at doors and windows from around the world, and noticed they are not always square or rectangle.

“This was a complex project with many layers, and students did an amazing job,” Bowman said. “It was wonderful to see them make connections between their own lives and their neighborhood.”

Some of the paper that students used was made by rubbing crayons and pastels across textured templates, creating brick patterns and other designs. More connections were made as the textured paper was shared between the two schools.

The projects will be on display as part of the upcoming Youth in Arts’ upcoming exhibit: Kids Imagine Our World: In My Neighborhood. The show of 2nd grade work from both schools runs Oct. 28 through Dec. 6. The opening reception, which will be hosted by the Youth in Arts’ Board of Directors, will be held on Nov. 8 from 5 to 8 p.m.