Laurel Dell 5th graders spent a few days happily painting one of San Rafael’s utility boxes as part of the “emPower Utility Art Box” project. If you’re heading to the 101 freeway, you’ll see the box at Second Street and Lincoln Avenue on the right side.
This spring, the students participated in a 12-week residency program that was a unique collaboration between Youth in Arts and UC Berkeley’s Y-PLAN. The program featured local architects Shirl Buss and Janine Lovejoy Wilford and artists working with 4th and 5th grade students teaching design and build concepts. Students created bridges, towers and maps looking at important issues facing San Rafael, such as climate change, affordable housing and access to the Canal community.
“It’s great that the students were so engaged in the work, ” said Mentor Artist Suzanne Joyal. “They really wanted people to think seriously about San Rafael’s 2040 plan and what the city needs for the future.”
To paint the utility box, a small group of 5th graders worked with Joyal and Mentor Artist Cathy Bowman. In selecting the design and color, it was important to consider how different colors make us feel. Students practiced writing their important words big so they would be visible. Despite the heat, the painting was fun! We didn’t blend colors completely to maintain a painterly effect. We added floating houses, trees, birds and clouds. When we were done painting, we added more detail and pattern using paint markers. It is an important visual reminder of what we all need to be thinking about.
The grand unveiling of the six boxes that were painted will be held on June 14 in conjunction with the 2nd Fridays Art Walk from 5 to 8 p.m. The boxes are located in the city’s downtown corridor and transit center.
The 2019 San Rafael Leadership Institute started the utility box project as a way to bring more art to downtown San Rafael. The institute is a San Rafael Chamber of Commerce program made up of public and private professionals, nonprofit leaders and business officials.
On January 24, the Marin IJ published an article written by fifth graders working with Shirl Buss, YIA Mentor Architect and educator with UC Berkeley’s Y-PLAN.
On Thursday night, Laurel Dell hosted a Family Art Night for second and third-graders. Families were able to visit the gallery of works created over the Fall, and to participate in a hands-on art-making experience.
YIA Mentor Artists Cathy Bowman and Suzanne Joyal asked students and families to respond the IJ story: What do YOU want for San Rafael’s future? What important words can you read? Circle them. Now, choose the MOST important word, and turn it into a piece of art that fills your whole page.
Each student and family member found a word in the article that was important to them, and turned it into one of the mini-artworks you find here.
Lastly, we glued all of the pieces together into this one cohesive collage.
The students ranged in age from TK (PATHS), to third grade (ELECTRIC from a kid who says he doesn’t feel safe walking in his neighborhood at night). We saw parents translating for each other, children reading to their parents, and even tiny little pre-readers able to pick out letters and begin their journey to reading.
Here is a link to a member of the community in Fairfax who wrote a letter to the MarinIJ entitled: “Inspired by Youngsters ideas on Sea-Level Rise”.
Thank you California Arts Council for your generous support!
Fifth graders at Laurel Dell Elementary School have written an opinion piece for the Marin IJ based on their residency with Youth in Arts. Impressed by the students’ focus and hard work during a 12-week residency, architect Shirl Buss extended the learning by mentoring the students as they wrote their piece. In the end, it was the students’ own words.
Youth in Arts partnered with UC Berkeley’s Y- PLAN (Youth – Plan, Learn, Act, Now) to create an innovative program exploring the connection between art and architecture. We worked with fourth and fifth graders at the school.
“We wrote this newspaper column so we could get people’s attention, so they can listen to our ideas,” the fifth graders wrote. The piece was written by students Kim Mandujano, Gerardo Valencia, Genesis Perez and Janely Mendieta.
The artists described what they think San Rafael should look like in the future. They hope officials working on San Rafael’s 2040 General Plan will take their advice seriously for dealing with issues like sea-level rise, flooding, safety, housing and other concerns.
Laurel Dell teacher Marc Belmont said working with Buss and the Youth in Arts residency was a great experience.
“Thank you for working with the students. They love you and enjoyed every second with you,” Belmont wrote to Buss. “They were so happy and proud when we read the article in class. Wish you could’ve seen their pride and smiles on their faces.”
Read more about what the students had to say here.
or check it out here:
Thank you to UC Berkeley’s Y-PLAN and the California Arts Council for helping to make this possible.
More than 100 parents, students and civic leaders attended a presentation of fourth and fifth grade art at Laurel Dell Elementary School in San Rafael. Through an innovative partnership between Youth in Arts, UC Berkeley’s Y-PLAN and the California Arts Council, mentor teachers taught a 12-week course that explored the fascinating relationship between art and architecture. It was a wonderful way to introduce students to the field of architecture.
Visiting architects who generously participated were led by architects and educators Shirl Buss of UC Berkeley’s Y-PLAN and Janine Lovejoy Wilford, who taught fifth graders how to measure, design and build. Other architects who worked with the classes were Sally Dominguez and Dustin Foster.
Fifth graders worked hard to contributed to San Rafael’s 2040 plan, trying to imagine a city of the future and what sort of bridges it will need. We looked at pressing issues such as climate change and the need for affordable housing. We looked at the Canal Community, where many of them live.
Fourth graders engaged in a variety of projects, such as building Towers of Power using wood scraps and found objects and tiny bridges in a box. Throughout the course we refined our design skills along with practicing cutting, measuring and designing for small spaces. Using symbols, we bridged our current selves with ourselves and dreams of the future. Students also made beautiful paintings of their towers and worked collaboratively to bridge them together. Often students worked in their sketchbooks, designing projects before construction.
“As a trustee AND community planner, I was thrilled to see the results of this work, and the voice of the students. The Y-plan program is renowned around the country, and it’s fun to see it in San Rafael, at Laurel Dell. This kind of project covers all the common core aspects – congratulations to the teachers and Youth in Arts, and gratitude to the students for sharing their ideas.”
-Linda Jackson, San Rafael School District Board Trustee
Ms. McCarthy’s Fifth graders at Laurel Dell Elementary School have been working with Janine Lovejoy Wilford (a practicing architect and educator). They, along with Shirl Buss and Mr. Belmont’s fifth grade class, have been working on the question, “What Do You Imagine for San Rafael in the year 2040?
Thank you so much for your support: Laurel Dell PTA, teachers and students, UC Berkeley’s Y-PLAN, Janine Lovejoy Wilford, and the California Arts Council
By Shirl Buss, Architect and Educator
We had a wonderful session with the 4th grade students in Mr. Seligman’s class last week. Suzanne, John and I teamed the students in pairs.
Thank you so much for your support: Laurel Dell PTA, teachers and students, UC Berkeley’s Y-PLAN, and the California Arts Council
Master Architect Shirl Buss has been working with Laurel Dell Elementary students on their vision for the San Rafael 2040 Plan. Students presented their projects (sea level rise, their 2018-2040 Portfolios and their proposals for Gateways to San Rafael) to Kate Powers, environmental advocate who is on the San Rafael 2040 general plan steering committee. Kate served as a great audience for the students to practice their public speaking skills and shared information about the San Rafael 2040 General Plan and the work of the Steering Committee.
Arts leaders, local officials, and community members gathered at the YIA Gallery to celebrate the launch of the Downtown San Rafael Arts District on Friday, October 12th. The district, located along the spine of 4th street, is home to numerous arts-related organizations including Artworks Downtown, the Falkirk Cultural Center, and the California Film Institute. Downtown San Rafael is one of only 14 inaugural state-designated cultural arts districts. Speakers included Supervisor Damon Connolly, CFI’s Dane Callihan, AWD’s Elisabeth Setten, Bank of Marin’s Jaime Ortiz, Marin Arts’ Kathie Gaines, Youth in Arts Mentor architect Shirl Buss, and YIA youth board member Kathryn Hasson.
On behalf of YIA’s board and staff, Executive Director Miko Lee presented the Pamela Levine Arts Education Leadership Award to Dominican University professor, Lynn Sondag. The award is given to individuals for exceptional accomplishments in arts education in memory of Youth in Arts’ former Executive Director Pamela Levine. “We are thrilled to celebrate Lynn, who is an exemplar of arts education and leadership,” Lee said. “Lynn is a driving force in making the arts come alive in San Rafael.”