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San Rafael, California 94901
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Painting Sculptures and Exploring Color

TK Students at Short Elementary School spent a lively morning painting their shape sculptures with Youth in Arts’ Mentor Artist Cathy Bowman and teacher Maggie Dawes.

During the previous week, the young artists practiced naming their shapes and building sculptures out of circles, squares, rectangles and triangles cut from foam core. When the sculptures were dry, they chose two primary colors to investigate what would happen when they mixed them.

There were “oohs” and “ahhs” around the room as students discovered red and blue make purple and blue and yellow make green. Using flat brushes, students worked hard to get paint in all the corners to cover everything.

As the sculptures dried, we talked about how many different purples and greens we saw. The lesson provided good opportunities for reflection and for looking at art through a math problem: blue + yellow = ?

For students who did not attend preschool, it was the first time they had ever painted. Large brushes with long handles created good opportunities for fine motor skills practice. The children who were absent will use the third primary combination next week, combining red and yellow to make orange.

Clay Sculptures

 

 

 

Students at Short Elementary School in San Rafael made clay sculptures inspired by the work of artist Monir Farmanfarmaian. Inspired by curriculum provided the Kennedy Center, students looked at patterns in art. Like Farmanfarmaian, they worked with geometric shapes. We continued our discussion of patterns from a previous project and how to make patterns (a shape that repeats itself). Using air dry clay, students added color by coloring the clay with markers. We formed large shapes and pressed them into mat board. Then we made patterns using shiny paper, beads and found objects in the shapes of circles, ovals, triangles, squares and other forms. It was great to watch a short film about Farmanfarmaian and learn about her work! We finished the project with a reflection in which each student presented to the entire class.

 

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Paper Sculptures at Short Elementary School

As part of Youth in Arts’ Arts Unite Us program, Mentor Artist Cathy Bowman and students at Short Elementary School in San Rafael explored color, cutting, and three-dimensionality by making shape sculptures inspired by glass artist Dale Chihuly. We began by cutting a single piece of paper into three pieces, and then used oil pastels to add pattern to our cut pieces. We followed the oil pastels with watercolors, practicing and learning about the wax resist method by painting over the pastel to add more color. Once everything was dry, we completed the sculpture by cutting notches in our newly-designed paper pieces so everything fit together in a three-dimensional form. Together, we found that balancing our sculptures against gravity was the most challenging part, and it was a fun way to learn how to do it. The lesson built on previous lessons exploring pattern and shape, and continued to help develop and practice fine motor skills.

Thank you to the Kennedy Center, Marin Community Foundation, and Marin County Office of Education for making this program possible.

California Native Flower Garden Mural ​

By Mentor Artist Tracy Eastman

Short Elementary School’s 2nd and 5th grade “Green Team” were delighted to paint a large mural to brighten up their newly planted garden in the front of the school. Julie Ryan, the 2nd-grade teacher and leader of Green Team, and I decided the most fitting subject matter for the garden mural would be California native flowers, as that was what her students were currently studying. There was, however, a challenge with how and where to display a mural in their garden area. The portable building where the mural was to be painted was said to be transported to another school in the next couple years. For this reason, we opted for a portable mural that would be painted on two recycled vinyl banners. This would allow the 18-foot-long mural to be rolled up and transported to any new location.

     The students started out by looking at pictures of murals done by other artists, and by studying the names and distinctive characteristics of each native flower we were to include. They then practiced painting a flower or their own preferred subject on mini canvas sheets, allowing them to explore painting on the canvas-like texture of the banners.  First, students painted the entire primed surface with a bright blue color, serving as an underpainting. I then sketched a scene of native flowers and rolling hillsides for the students to follow painting. They began by painting the background of the sky above the hillsides and then continued to add specs of color at the tops of the hills. the specs of color grew larger and larger into the foreground to show all the details of the distinctive flowers up close. This created an illusion of depth and space, making it appear that the large flowers we see at the bottom of the image recede into the distance on the hillside toward the top of the image.
     The students did a marvelous job mixing various hues and applying the paint in layers to create a very bright and vivid mural. There were printed pictures of the specific flowers and their leaves set beside the students for them to refer to while they painted. The students greatly learned about the difference between Art that is created through free expression and Art that is focused on creating specifically recognizable subjects. Over the course of ten-45 minute student classes and many additional hours I devoted to planning and touch-ups, a beautiful and colorful mural was born. The once beige and bare wall in the garden at the front of the school now gleams with a vibrancy that is a breath of fresh air. All of the plants in the garden continue to grow large and healthy around the radiant mural of our state’s flowers, beautifully brightening up the community. Walk by and take a look!

 

Short School Students Learn Haitian Dance and Folktales with Djenane St. Juste

Djenane Sainte-Juste, assisted by members of her Afoutayi Company, taught music, dance and storytelling across four grades at Short School, with a unifying theme of the unique cultural traditions of Haiti. The program began with a performance by Afoutayi and culminated with student performances at each grade level.

This was students’ second year working with Djenane. They reviewed dance and percussion from last year, and used these as a scaffold for more advanced dance and rhythms. Each grade learned the music and dance of a different Haitian folk dance. In their final performance, every student wore a colorful, authentic costume, most made by Djenane’s mother Florencia Pierre (affectionately known to the students as Fofo).

This was a farewell performance for Djenane, who has already moved to Minneapolis, MN. We miss Djenane and Fofo and Hassan already!

This program is generously funded in part by the California Arts Council, Artists in Schools program. We are also grateful for the wonderful photography provided by Ron Greene Photography.

 

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Kanaval at Short School

Parade with Fofo

Parading with Florencia “Fofo” Pierre

 

Short School parents and students celebrated the culmination of their Haitian Music & Dance program with a schoolwide performance, parade and dance party on Tuesday, March 18th. For sixteen weeks, students in grades K-2 have been working with Mentor Artists Djenane St. Juste, Florencia “Fofo” Pierre and Jeff Pierre to learn music and dances associated with the celebration of Kanaval or Carnaval, a major midwinter celebration in the Caribbean. Students have also learned words and expressions in both French and Haitian Kreyòl languages. On this beautiful Tuesday morning, the students were able to share music and dances they had learned with over 70 parents, teachers and siblings!

Jeff Pierre leads drum students

Jeff Pierre with Short School drummers

 

Djenane introduced a dance game the children had learned in which they dance without touching a line that represents danger or “sobo”. As the children danced down the line faster and faster without touching it, parents in the audience helped with a call and response from the song Ti Gason (Little Boy) in which the dancers are told piga’w pile sobo, male va rive’w (roughly: “don’t step on danger or you will have trouble”).

Kids dance on the line

Don’t step on the line!

 

A few parents and siblings even came up to try the dance on their own!

Parents try the line dance

Parents, teachers and siblings try to dance “safely”

 

Next came a grand parade led by Fofo Pierre with students performing steps they have learned in their classes and teachers and some parents following behind as the “back line”. The grand finish was a circle dance with each class taking a turn dancing in the middle, followed by dancing parents and all the teachers!

Short Teachers Dance!

Short School teachers dance in the circle

 

It was a fun event with a great parent turn-out. Thanks to all the students, staff and families of Short School, to Djenane, Fofo and Jeff for their terrific work with the students and to the California Arts Council’s Artists in Schools program for its support of this project.images

Djenane Pepe and Fofo

Djenane St. Juste, Principal Pepe Gonzalez and Fofo Pierre

 

Short School Students Create Mixed Media Mural

Kindergarten and 1st grade students at Short School worked with Mentor Artist Angela Baker and assistant Gracie Von Glasenapp to create a mixed media mural. Over the course of 10 weeks students worked with a variety of art media such as sharpie markers, tempera paints, watercolor and collage to explore ideas of family and neighborhood. They also developed art making skills that would contribute to the creation of a 4’X8′ collage and watercolor mural of the neighborhood surrounding Short School.

Students began by sketching family portraits which were painted in tempera paint.

"Family Portrait" Read more…

All Hands on Deck at Short School & Laurel Dell!

Youth in Arts is embarking on a school-wide Mural Project at Laurel Dell and Short School in San Rafael.  YIA Mentor Artist Angela Baker will be working with students and teachers to create two school murals with the theme of “Our World”.  In preparation for this project, teachers came together with YIA Mentor Artists Nydia Gonzalez and Angela Baker to explore the theme of the project and how it can connect with daily classroom curricula.

Working from YIA’s “I Am From…” lesson plan, the group of educators explored identity, culture, community and core values, culminating in a group project.  Using tracings of their hands, words, images, symbols and some glue, each group created a visual representation of their values and goals as a community of educators.

Now, it’s the kids’ turn!  Students will work with their teachers and Angela to conceptualize, design and create their school mural.  We all look forward to seeing their work!