San Rafael Students Explore Identity

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Drawing inside a paper bag without looking

Who am I? What part of myself do I show the world, and what do I hide?
These are some of the questions being explored by more than 1,500 3rd to 5th graders in a Youth in Arts visual arts residency.
“Selfie & Soul: Exploring Identity Through Mixed Media and Photography” is being taught virtually by Mentor Artist Cathy Bowman. Students have been provided art kits with collage papers, watercolor pencils, paper and other tools.
We have learned how to draw the human eye, create a mixed-media self portrait, make a “blind” drawing inside a paper bag and more. Toward the end of the 14-week program we will write and illustrate haikus, make an identity poster and create a superpower symbol.
A key part of early lessons has been observational drawing, Cathy said. Not only is it fun, but it encourages students to practice skills that can help in school and to become leaders comfortable with thinking outside the box.
“The world is so unsettled right now, and it’s important students look closely and critically at what they see and become confident in their choices,” Cathy said. “This course is a great chance for students to explore themselves and their world and how they fit into it.”
The San Rafael program is supported by Heads Up. It is also part of Youth in Arts’ YIArts.COR program (Creative Online Resource), our new digital learning platform. Through our virtual programs in visual and performing arts this Fall, Youth in Arts is reaching more than double the number of students we typically serve. 
The lessons include how-to videos, written instructions that can be printed out and a rich assortment of videos showing artists from around the world. They are designed to reach all learners, and families, classroom teachers and entire schools can access the free and affordable courses anywhere, anytime.

Cathy teaches how to draw a self-portrait based on a photograph

“Art is an equity issue,” Cathy said. “Learning online all day seems to be easier for some students than others, which makes even more important that we nourish everyone’s artistic spirit so everyone can shine. Kids can be enormously creative if they are just given the chance.”

Learning the parts of a human eye

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