This year, for the Celebration of the Arts that marks the end of another quarter, we wanted to try something different–something that would raise the bar of sharing artistic output, by pairing a mini-exhibit of the older class’ top picks, with a professional exhibition featuring a local artist.
We invited Steven Zins as our featured artist. An engineer and physicist by training and education, Steven has devised a computer-aided technique he calls facetation and applies it to Impressionist paintings, such that, up close, only the very distinctive colors in the work are familiar, but as the viewer steps further away, the piece comes into familiar focus.
We chose Mother’s Day as the day we would invite families from our adopted school, East Palo Alto Charter School (EPACS), to come to Palo Alto to enjoy a Mother’s Day Tea and to view select pieces of art created by EPACS students at a special exhibit. We invited all of our friends and supporters to experience this mixed-media art opening.
One of our dedicated teachers, high-school senior Claire M, who taught the younger students’ art class, was awarded one of Zins’ limited number of the Water Lilies series, in recognition of her dedication to our program, her can-do attitude and for the warm connection for which she was known with her students.
Ms. Sue, who teaches the older kids, had tough choices to make for the final pieces on display; these students have been developing their artistic skills and sensibilities over the past two academic years under her tutelage and were excited to be featured in an art exhibit beyond the walls of their school. Ms. Sue but was able to aggregate a whole wall of gallon-jug masks, a project she ‘saved up’ for over many weeks of stockpiling plastic jugs, so as to give all her students a chance to be recognized.
To top off the afternoon of tea, treats and tributes, a choir made up of kids from the Boys and Girls Club of the Peninsula and led by high schooler teachers Maya S and Chloe H entertained the crowd with sophisticated harmonies and fancy handwork.
The goal of this off-site event was to give our young artists a chance to show the world what they have created, alongside a professional artist, reinforcing the message that all art, in all of its many forms and stages of development is better shared.
Crossing borders, be they geographic, cultural, or psychological, empowers us to see the similarities we share with others, rather than the differences we must overcome to build community.
This is the day, designated by a small group of bereaved Civil War-era mothers, in which we celebrate the world’s oldest profession: Motherhood. Merriam Webster doesn’t say anything about a profession requiring a salary, but it does mention the prior knowledge and training that is required. The training for motherhood is is not done in the classroom–(Apologia: I will never forget my “Lactation Seminar” in a lecture hall at the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, where the lecturer told us about the young African man, a new father, instructing his American wife on how to hold the baby for the best latch on. He had had a whole lot more experience with this activity in his village than she ever had!)
My own mother used to point out to me that I didn’t come with a user manual, and if I wanted something from her that she wasn’t providing, I needed to give her a clue. These days, you can just call the Help Desk. Buy a book. Join a chat room. Ask a group of confidantes over coffee and tears.
But in the end, no one answer will ever take the place of exploring with your own child, be it in a quiet conversation, on a silent walk peppered with sighs and glances, or in a full-scale shouting match what it is that hurts, scares, or tears at them. As a mother, all I can give them back is the sense that I have walked my own rocky road, and I am still striding. Or standing. Or kneeling in prayer. And I am still their mother, which means to me that I am one of the most highly paid souls I know.
Now here is a national holiday we can all get our arms around!
Now here is a national holiday we can all get our arms around!
I have developed a style which incorporates beautiful scenes, such as many by the Impressionists, and gives them a modern twist. I retain the overall composition and color and add my own abstract, crystalline texture.
The Facetation method doesn’t work on all pieces and has to be adjusted for those pieces that it does work with. The impressionists are good candidates for this method because they painted very fast. They were interested in capturing the overall impression and the brush strokes were not their main concern. I replace their brush strokes with my perfect triangles. Their impression is retained.
The above, Van Gogh’s Bedroom in Arles, represents the realistic end of a spectrum. When the Facetation is cranked up and possibly combined with other images, the result is abstract rather than realistic. The net result is that I produce a range of images from realistic to abstract.
After months of experimentation, dedication, preparation and inspiration the students in the After School Program at East Palo Alto Charter school hosted the entire ASP population to a Celebration of the Arts:
Making art is about making peace with oneself.
Here, the kids are creating dioramas out of collage materials. They are so engrossed in their projects that a few of them have forgotten to take off their knapsacks, and refuse to do so now that they are in flow!
We come to EPACS each week, humping our art supplies, toting little scripts, humming a new tune to teach or tapping our feet to a catchy hip-hop beat, and when we step on the campus, we are greeted by dozens of familiar faces calling out our names, rushing up to us for a hug, winks, smiles, shy little mutterings…and we feel at home. We feel a part of this school. We remember why we make the sluggish trip over 101 with our tentative plans for artistic endeavor, and why we are willing to put up with the push back that is inevitable as we attempt to engage our students in new ways.
In the classroom, squirmy kids take a little longer to settle down than we would like, and staying settled is more the exception. But when they do catch that flow that we all have known as artists, when they apply themselves to the business of creating something all their own, the effect is transcendent.
The kids are working on safety PSAs (Public Service Announcements), which they plan to share with the rest of the school. Drawing from a list of school rules to live by, they are creating dramatic scenes that illustrate why the rules make sense, and what happens if they are not followed. To begin, they use large sheets of paper (donated by the Carnegie Institute at Stanford University) to sketch out their storyboards. They work in teams to come up with the action and resolution of the scene. They pick their actors, and then film the scenes around campus. These will be edited off site, for a public viewing at the end of the quarter.
“When children are asked to interpret rules for their peers, they take ownership of the rules in a way that ensures better future compliance by everyone involved.” – School administrator
This short film was created by a 12-year-old.
The EPACS kids learned how to read music! Ms. Gail taught them to clap out four-beat bars and before class was over, they were writing and annotating their own complicated beats and teaching these to their classmates. Kids had the opportunity to conduct their classmates, which gave them a whole new sense of power!