Why do the arts matter? Look no further than Laurel Dell School.
The San Rafael elementary school recently celebrated its reopening with a joyful ribbon-cutting ceremony that drew dozens of students, staff and members of the community. Youth in Arts was there to celebrate its Architects in Schools program and to showcase the amazing work made during residencies last Fall while the school was being rebuilt.
Youth in Arts’ Visual Arts Director Suzanne Joyal presented Principal Pepe Gonzalez with the this year’s Pamela Levine award for his outstanding support of arts education. It was evident how much he is loved by the thick book Suzanne made that was filled with hundreds of cards and drawings from students, teachers and specialists. There were so many cards from well wishers that the book couldn’t hold them all.
Although Suzanne has never seen Pepe draw a picture, dance or sing, she considers him a kindred spirit who thinks like an artist.
“He enjoys the success that comes from solving problems as much as I do,” she said. “Mr. Gonzalez understand that the arts are about so much more than the pretty object we draw. The arts offer students a safe space to explore their world, to stand up to speak out and to believe in themselves.”
The day included visits to a special exhibition of work made with Youth in Arts’ architects Shirl Buss and Janine Lovejoy Wilford, and Mentor Artist Cathy Bowman. Visitors were encouraged to look closely at how Youth in Arts teaches a sequential program in which skills are built upon from one year to the next. The lines and curves in a kindergarteners’ self portraits, for example, leads to a third graders’ colorful model of what Fourth Street in San Rafael could look like. That model gives fifth graders the skills they need to design spaces for the city’s future library.
Pairs of students from each class served as docents, giving tours, answering questions and explaining their work. Practicing speaking in public supports one of Youth in Arts’ goals: that students reflect upon making art and can speak confidently about their work. Third graders who worked with Shirl (creative director at UC Berkeley’s Y-PLAN) will present their design and policy proposals for downtown San Rafael the city’s 2040 general plan steering committee on March 11.
The daylong celebration ended with a Family Art Night with Youth in Arts. Children in after school care, as well as families and friends, stopped by to make tiny bridges for crossing the canal. It required them to find a place where they thought a bridge was needed, then to measure the spot to make sure the bridge was long enough. They used buttons, embroidery hoops, clay, bumpy paper and wood scraps to bring their models to life.
Family Art Nights are a great way to involve families in the art their children are making and are usually a part of all Youth in Arts’
Artists in Schools residencies. For more information about art nights and Youth in Arts’ residencies, please contact Program Director Kelsey Rieger at (415) 457-4878 ext 110.
By Mentor Architect Shirl Buss
Laurel Dell Elementary School third graders recently hosted Transit Practice Leader Bob Grandy in their newly renovated school in San Rafael. Bob, an engineer and principal at Fehr & Peers, introduced students to a possible career in engineering while sharing his expertise with them. He also presented a wonderful slideshow with images relating to transportation planning and design.
Architect Shirl Buss has been teaching at Laurel Dell through Youth in Arts’ Architects in Schools program, which she helped develop. Shirl is also the Y-PLAN elementary director at the Center for Cities + Schools at UC Berkeley.
Bob familiarized the students with the opportunities and constraints along Fourth Street in downtown San Rafael with a special focus on mobility and access. Shirl reported that his presentation was both inspiring and instructive, and will help students as they take on the challenges of how to make Fourth Street safe, welcoming, fun and hopeful for everyone.
“These children are continuing to build upon the work from the past two years that Laurel Dell students and teachers – in collaboration with Youth in Arts and UC Berkeley’s Y-PLAN – have been doing on issues related to sea level rise and the San Rafael 2040 General Plan,” Shirl said. “We expect these students to generate some exciting policy and design recommendations to offer to the Downtown Precise Plan.”
Thank you, Bob, for donating your time and expertise to our future civic leaders!
What do we need to play? How can we make it? How can we work together? Kindergarteners at Laurel Dell Elementary School in San Rafael spent a wonderful day building imaginary playgrounds.
Using large pieces of black foam core board at each table, students applied skills they had previously learned about shaping paper. Twisting long strips around pencils made spirals; making feet with folds allowed them to make swings. Folding accordion style made the stairs they needed to climb to a slide.
The young artists also explored pattern but using paper with patterns and creating their own patterns on plain paper with pastels. Working with Youth in Arts Mentor Artist Cathy Bowman, we talked about other patterns we saw in the classroom and what connections we could make. How could we work together? How could we connect our ideas to make one playground?
The project offered rich opportunities for Social Emotional Learning through collaboration and sharing. When one little boy wanted shiny paper, several of his classmates offered him some. In another class, a student happily translated the instructions for her table mate, an English Language Learner. Teacher Alejandra Vazquez helped students connect the project to their real world experience by pointing to the blacktop outside their temporary classroom. If you could design the playground of your dreams, she asked, what would it look like? If you needed shade from the hot sun, how would you find it?
At Youth in Arts, we work hard to scaffold projects, building each week on skills learned earlier in the residency. The project was the second time students created playgrounds. Two weeks earlier. they made smaller, individual playgrounds; the following week they drew their own and a friend’s playground on paper, figuring out how they could connect them.
At the end of class, students went on a gallery walk with their hands behind their back to look at each other’s art. We had a rich discussion about similarities we saw in color, shape and line and all the ways we can make connections.
The program is part of the Walker Rezaian Creative HeArts Fund created by Youth in Arts and the Rezaian family and generously supported by the Rezaians. It celebrates Walker’s life and love of the arts and is built around friendship and social emotional learning. How do we make and keep friends? What happens if we both want to build a slide in the same place? It gives children a chance to explore those and other questions in a safe, artistic place.
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!
Coleman Elementary School third graders practiced tints and shades using a cityscape inspired by the streets of San Francisco. With Mentor Artist Julia James, students began with a quick pencil drawing of seven different buildings with a foreground, middle ground and background.”We used blue or red tempera. Adding white made tints; adding black made shades. It was challenging to mix colors without using any water. If we mixed too vigorously, the paint was soaked up by the paper plate! In exploring shades and tints, we learned that the background is usually lighter than the foreground. Last week, we practiced painting with a round brush. For this project we used flat brushes and discovered they make different lines. It was great to have flat brushes for working in tight corners and around sharp edges. For the final step, we added windows and doors.”
Thank you to The Kennedy Center, Marin Community Foundation, and Marin County Office of Education for making these programs possible.
Youth in Arts Receives California Arts Council
“Creative California Communities” Grant
Youth in Arts is among 24 projects funded statewide in support of transforming communities through the arts
The California Arts Council announced it plans to award $30,000 to Youth in Arts as part of its new Creative California Communities program. This award will support Youth in Arts’ Creative San Rafael project, which will link multiple arts organizations together to revitalize San Rafael through the arts.
Projects supported by the Creative California Communities program represent a wide range of arts disciplines, and aim to revitalize neighborhoods through the arts, foster new arts engagement, stimulate tourism, create jobs for artists, invest in young people, and build relationships between local arts, business, and government entities.
“Creative San Rafael” will use arts to make downtown San Rafael a destination point. Youth in Arts, the City of San Rafael, business and arts organizations will collaborate to create a series of arts installations and events. Using quotes from famous San Rafael artists as inspiration, the city will come alive with community arts activities engaging people of all ages. Professional artists will work with children and adults to create banners and murals throughout downtown.
“We know that arts has long been a vital part of San Rafael with a deep history of artists who live, work and create here. Creative San Rafael will showcase these artists and create multiple wonderful opportunities for the community to celebrate this wonderful city,” states Youth in Arts Executive Director Miko Lee.
“The Creative California Communities program supports many significant projects in large and small communities across California, demonstrating the power of the arts to transform our state,” said Wylie Aitken, Chair of the California Arts Council. “Our Council was inspired by the overwhelming response to this program, which revealed the scope of unmet needs for the arts in our communities.”
The California Arts Council received 157 applications for this highly competitive grant program, which is supported by one-time funds from the California State Assembly. After an open application process, a peer advisory panel reviewed all grant applications, followed by a review and vote from the Council at a public meeting in Los Angeles on June 18, 2014. The twenty-four projects supported by this grant program will reach nineteen counties across California.
For a complete listing of projects supported by the Creative California Communities program, visit the California Arts Council website.
Youth in Arts is the leading arts education nonprofit in the North Bay, offering students experiences and instruction in the visual and performing arts, and enriching the community with cultural events. Programs include Artists in Schools instruction in visual, performing and new media arts; Arts Unite Us, bringing together students of differing abilities in shared arts experiences. Youth in Arts Presents theatrical presentations and school assemblies; `Til Dawn award-winning teen a cappella and YIA Gallery, featuring one of the only children’s art galleries in California. www.youthinarts.org
Join Youth in Arts and Mentor Artists Maestro Ernesto Olmos and Maestra Mayra Hernandez to celebrate the opening of our new exhibit “Cholq’ij: Voice of Our Ancestors” this Friday, October 12 from 5-8 pm.
The exhibit features art created by Maestro Ernesto with San Rafael students and families, primarily from San Pedro Elementary school, as part of an exploration of the sacred Mayan and Aztec calendars and traditional wisdom around our individual and community connections to nature. Hands-on art activities and a display of medicinal plants that families learned about with Maestra Mayra are also included.
Friday’s event, which is free and open to the public as part of 2nd Fridays Art Walk Downtown, will feature music and dance ceremonies as well as food stations where families can sample healthy and healing foods and beverages made from indigenous plant ingredients.
For more information, contact 415-457-4878 x16 or email firstname.lastname@example.org (se habla español)