Thursday, June 3, 2010

Eight squared: A rite of passage before starting high school

by SF Dell (West Marin Citizen June 3, 2010)
                                                                                                                                                                                                 A complex formula beyond perception. How does Gallery Route One’s (GRO) Artists in Schools Program affect participating students? No simple answer could encompass the truth.
Proudly, we in the far west believe that art programs in schools are the norm–a neccesity–rather than the exception.
Amongst the vast array of hands on projects supported by GRO Artists in the Schools, for eight years eighth grade students in West Marin schools have enjoyed “Self Reflective Portraits” with facilitator and artist Vickisa Feinberg.
Vickisa "Frida"

In collaboration with the teachers, students nearing the end of their eighth grade year are guided through a series of projects and studies designed to stimulate introspective consideration. Cultural and Art history lessons prime the surface for this end of year assignment.
Over the course of four sessions the students journey inward. It all begins with exploring differet methods to creating a portrait, followed by how to create a self-portrait. Next, the students become familiar with watercolor pencil technique and experiment a little. Finally, an introduction to the work of philosopher and painter Frida Kahlo, best known for her colorful paintings, often depicting herself. Part of her legacy is 55 recognized self-portraits.
David Reyes

Former West Marin School principal, James J. Patterson composed a letter in support of the program. “It is the best Artists in Schools experience I have ever witnessed,” he writes. “In this lesson, Vickisa works along with the classroom teachers to help the graduating students pause and reflect on who they are, who they are becoming and what they want out of life,” he says. “Classroom teachers were so impressed with the quality of the discussion and engagement that they created a written component to the lesson to record the students‘ reflections.”
“Students really examine themselves, literally using a mirror,” says Vickisa. “After three sequential lessons the students have created a self-portrait in Frida Kahlo style framed in a Mexican folk art tin frame that can be hung during and before a graduation celebration. The students do a writing project with their teacher or Poets in the Schools,” she explains. With the quest complete, “The students emerge with a sense of empowerment and achievement.”

West Marin School eighth grade students.

Visit: Gallery Route One Artists in Schools program website.