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Youth in Arts’ New ARTS Bank Unveiled at VSA Conference

Miko Lee and Suzanne Joyal

Which visual arts lessons will help you communicate with a student who is on the autism spectrum? How can dance include someone using a wheelchair? How do you teach collaboration in your 5th grade classroom?

Youth in Arts’ new ARTS Bank (Art Resources for Teachers and Students) offers answers. The ARTS Bank is a first of its kind free database to find and contribute arts activities to reach all types of learners.  

Visual Arts Director Suzanne Joyal and former Executive Director Miko Lee presented a beta version of the online resource recently at VSA Intersections: Arts and Special Education Conference in Irvine, CA. VSA is an international organization on arts, education and disability that was founded in 1974 by former U.S. Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith and is headquartered in Washington, D.C.

“The ARTS bank is an exciting tool,” Joyal said. “With a click of a button, teachers, parents or caregivers can plug in an Individualized Education Program (IEP) goal or grade level or a key word and find an arts lesson designed to strengthen those specific skills.”

Lee said the goal is to provide a tool so people can build on each other’s work.

“We have intentionally made it a free resource to encourage people to use it, contribute and collaborate,” Lee said. “You get the best solutions for the communities you are working with from those communities themselves. Those are the practitioners that best understand what works.”

The ARTS Bank is part of Youth in Arts’ Digital Toolkit, which includes six videos on inclusive teaching practices for artists, classroom teachers and parents. The ARTS Bank was developed pro bono through Salesforce under the leadership of Derek Schauffler. Funding for the video portion was provided through the state Department of Education’s Student Support and Academic Enrichment grant that the Marin County Office of Education received.

Suzanne Joyal Begins Master’s Program

This summer, Youth in Arts’ Director of Visual Arts Suzanne Joyal began her study toward a Master of Arts in Arts Education with a focus on special populations from Moore College of Art and Design in Philadelphia, PA. The only program of its kind in the country, the program was founded by Lynn Horoschak, a pioneer in the field of arts education for special populations. For the students of Moore, and arts educators at Youth in Arts, “special populations” means anyone who does not thrive in the linear, neurotypical classroom. This could mean students experiencing disabilities, newcomer and english language learners, students experiencing the effect of trauma, or anyone with an IEP (Individual Education Plan).

“I decided to pursue the Moore Masters program after attending several workshops led by Lauren Stichter, the graduate program director at Moore. I have been working with students with special needs for 11 years at Youth in Arts, and after listening to Lauren, I knew I could do more. I know that what we are doing at Youth in Arts is necessary and needed and the right thing for all students. We all need to be able to express ourselves with confidence, and for many people (myself included), it’s through the arts that this is possible. For students experiencing disabilities, every day can be painful or scary or exhausting, and infusing the arts into learning is what can help them thrive. We want every student to want to come to school and to feel proud of their accomplishments, and I have witnessed how the arts helps many students get there.”

Suzanne spent six weeks this summer participating in the intensive program, is working remotely for the school year, and will return to Philadelphia next summer to complete and present her thesis.

Exploring Patterns

Patterns were the focus of art with a 3rd through 5th grade class at Lynwood Elementary School during a residency with Mentor Artist Cathy Bowman. We began with texture quilts, using shapes and gold foil. Then we made numbers 0 to 9 using large stencils, oil pastels and watercolor. This was a collaborative project inspired by artist Jasper Johns’ number paintings.

With clay, we practiced patterns using beads. Then we explored tints (adding white to a color) and shades (adding black to a color). We made cityscapes, starting with red or blue paint and using the San Francisco skyline as our inspiration. Some of us included shapes from cities we have visited around the world.

Observational drawing is key. We practiced looking closely to record what we see, using animal toys as models. We made self portraits using metallic Sharpies. We chose five adjectives to describe ourselves, then turned each word into a different line. Our final weeks were spent practicing print making and color mixing, again exploring pattern.

Each end-of-class reflection was an opportunity to practice talking in front of the class and listening closely when our friends talked. Students came up with thoughtful observations to share and asked excellent questions.

At Youth in Arts, scaffolding is important. With each lesson, we build on previously learned skills to foster creativity, compassion and confidence in all learners.

Through the California Department of Education’s Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) grant that the Marin County Office of Education received, Youth in Arts was in multiple Special Day Classes this spring.

 

Gesture Drawing

At Olive and San Ramon elementary schools, Mentor Artist Cathy Bowman taught gesture drawing to 3rd through 5th graders.

We started by standing up and drawing in the air with our finger and discussed how it felt to work “big.” Demonstrating with a student as a model, Ms. Bowman demonstrated how to capture the essence of the figure in a 30-second pose. Every student with an interest in selecting a pose got a turn, while the rest of the class worked quickly to capture their efforts. Models were able to explore what makes an interesting pose by choosing how to extend their arms and legs. As artists we learned to work fast, letting our intuition take charge. We practiced drawing the shapes, forms and lines of the body.

Gesture drawing was a great follow up to blind contour drawing and working small. It was hard at first to use the whole paper and resist the temptation to add details like eyes, ears and glasses but we did. When we finished, we had a thoughtful discussion about the process.

Through the California Department of Education’s Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) Grant that Marin County Office of Education received, Youth in Arts was in multiple Special Day Classrooms this spring.

Drawing Each Other

Students at Sinaloa Middle School in Novato practiced drawing each other during a recent residency with Mentor Artist Cathy Bowman.

The drawing exercise continued building skills from the previous week, where students made blind contour drawings of animal toys.  On this day, students split off in partners and practiced drawing each other without looking at their pens.

It’s always tempting to look! To help, students used a paper plate with a hole in the middle to hide their pens. After drawing each other, we looked at all of the work and discussed the process. Reflecting on our work was an important part of understanding what we did. For the artists, the exercise was good practice in not judging a final drawing as good or bad but instead, appreciating the journey. It made everyone think about focusing on practice, not result.

Through the California Department of Education’s Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) grant that the Marin County Office of Education received, Youth in Arts was in multiple Special Day Classes this spring.

Short School Students Build Towers

 

Free field trips are one of the many programs that Youth in Arts offers! Recently, Short School students from Ms. Katie Marek’s class visited us to see Architects in Schools: Designing Community, the exhibition on display at the YIA Gallery through July 26. The show features the work of Laurel Dell 4th and 5th graders and their response to climate change, housing shortages and other critical issues San Rafael faces now and in the future.

Short School students studied the towers and models that Laurel Dell students made, paying close attention to the detailed bridges they built. We then built our own towers out of foam core board scraps, starting with three words that describe us. We came up with several words, such as smart, funny, careful and goodness. We wrote each word on a circle and then used special glue and toothpicks to build our towers. It was tricky to get them to balance and stand up but we persevered. One artist made a piece inspired by the San Francisco skyline, and another built a unicorn.

Ms. Marek’s class was part of Youth in Arts’ Arts Unite Us program. This spring, her students explored visual art through a 10-week residency program with Mentor Artist Cathy Bowman.

Through the California Department of Education’s Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) grant that the Marin County Office of Education received, Youth in Arts was in multiple Special Day Classes this spring.

 

Visual Arts at College of Marin

In Steve Maldonado’s class, Youth in Arts Mentor Artist Lisa Summers introduced students to a range of drawing and ink wash techniques to play with lines, shape, color, dimension, and perspective as part of this year’s Arts Unite Us residency at College of Marin. Throughout this ten-week program, students explored different ways of seeing, starting with a variety of graphite pencils and crayons and working on gaining exposure to more and more visual arts materials. We considered questions like: “Which one feels comfortable in your hand? Which one feels heavy or awkward? What kinds of lines to different kinds of pencils and pens make? What happens when you draw a face or an object without lifting your pencil from the paper? How do seemingly random lines and shapes organized into an image?”

Next we played with oil pastels and an ink wash. Students used simple wooden blocks to assemble familiar structures that they could draw using observational drawing techniques. During this exercise, we considered the following questions: “Where were the shadows? How do we make something become three dimensional?”

Following the observational drawing lesson, we continued learning with lines and shapes. After looking at a few examples from American artist, cartoonist and puppeteer Wayne White, students drew horizon lines to explore perspective using block letters that spelled out words they chose. Some of the questions we asked were: “What are some words people might use to describe you?” Or, “What’s your favorite pastime?”

Examples of student work from Steve’s COM class will be on display at Youth In Arts during the summer exhibition, “Outside the Lines: Collaborative Art in Special Day Classrooms” opening on July 31st, 2019.

 

Through the California Department of Education’s Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) grant that the Marin County Office of Education received, Youth in Arts was in multiple Special Day Classes this spring.

 

Arts Unite Us at Terra Linda High School

Shahrzad Khorsandi, a seasoned teacher and performer in Persian Dance, stepped out of her comfort zone into a new area this semester! She worked with two special day classes at Terra Linda High School through our Arts Unite Us program, teaching Persian dance and music. Though a bit nervous on the first day, she soon fit right in. With the help of the wonderful teachers at Terra Linda she engaged students, encouraging them to take part in playing percussive instruments and dancing and cheering each other on during the performances.

Shahrzad says of her experience, “Throughout the residency, we researched Persian culture, learning about various Persian instruments by watching videos of professional musicians playing the instruments”. Shahrzad was even able to bring in several instruments for the kids to see, touch, and play with. She adds, “We looked at the map of Iran and talked about the various regions of the country, and learned a sampling of various dance styles from each region. In the following weeks each of the two classes focused on one particular region, learning the choreography. While learning the movement patterns, we were exposed to concepts like making floor patterns with circles and line, and directional cues like facing our partner, or facing back or forward, etc.”

The residency culminated in a student performance. Parents were invited and both classes got to see each other perform. Shahrzad shares, “We had a great time and everyone did a wonderful job. It was interesting to see that some kids who seemed shy at first really hammed it up when faced with an audience. After the performance the audience was asked to join the performers in an improvisational social dance with Persian music. All in all, it was a hit!”

Thank you to VSA Kennedy Center, Marin County Office of Education, and the Marin Community Foundation for making these programs possible for our youth and community!

Creative Movement at Marindale

Youth in Art’s Mentor Artist, Risa Dye lead creative movement with the students at the Early Childhood Intervention Center at Marindale School in a ten week residency as part of the Arts Unite Us Program.

In this residency, we started with the basic structure of the brain dance created by Anne Green Gilbert through songs and movement. As Risa got more familiar with the children, she adapted her program to fit their needs and applied her creative and theatrical touches.  Risa loosely explored dance concepts such as speed, levels and size through playful movement guiding songs. As the ten weeks progressed, the students became more and more familiar with her structure and expectations. They gained more ownership over the movement and everyone became more able to play within the structure of the songs.

 



Painting to Music at Rancho Elementary School

Pre-K students in the Ready, Set, Grow! program at Rancho Elementary School explored various tools while painting to music. Part of a sensory-rich arts experience for students with Youth in Arts’ Mentor Artist Cathy Bowman, this 10-week Rancho residency is part of the Arts Unite Us program.

Cathy says of her classes: “Recently, we painted to different pieces of music. We talked about how different music makes our bodies feel different things. First, we listened to  “Gymnopedie No. 1” by Erik Satie. Then we listened to a lively bit of Scott Joplin’s “Maple Leaf Rag.” Finally, we heard Duke Ellington play. It was fun to try different things to paint with, from creamy crayons to toothbrushes dipped in tempera paint. How does a sponge make marks differently from a roller? We used two colors of paint, pink and yellow-green, to explore mark making on sturdy mat board generous”.

Through the California Department of Education’s Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) Grant that Marin County Office of Education received, we are in multiple Special Day Classrooms. This residency is one of the programs that have benefitted from this collaboration.

 

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