The CHS community gathered together on Monday to enjoy a bowl of soup, learn about a collaborative bowl-making project, celebrate the Kindergarten and Grade 6 learning partners, and support Common Art, a local organization that provides space and materials for artists who are unhoused.
The Art Soup evening opened with a slideshow showcasing the students’ process - from a combined field trip, to collaborative art making activities, to event planning and setup. The community enjoyed a simple soup supper donated by Whole Foods and Baker's Best and music from Chris Eastburn and his son, Quinn.
At the end of the event, community members were invited to rinse and wrap their bowls so they could take them home. On a cold December night, it was a celebration of joy and community.
At CHS 2nd grade teachers weave social studies, art and diversity, equity and inclusion topics all in one lesson! The students have been reading I Look Like a Girl by Sheila Hamanaka. Published in 1999, the book includes rhyming text accompanied by brightly colored illustrations. These pictures show girls “engaging in typical childhood activities, (while) imagining a life as free and wild as a tiger, dolphin, mustang, condor or wolf.”
Using this book as inspiration, students discussed the concept of visible identities, particularly those that do not accurately reflect how we think of ourselves. Gender is one way assumptions are made about who we are and is one of the strands of social identity. Other strands include heritage and belief systems. The book and subsequent discussion encouraged students to question the complexities of visible identities and resist the impulse to judge others based on outward appearance.
The 2nd graders then used oil pastels on black paper to show their understanding of the limitations of gender categories and stereotypes and imagining themselves as a rabbit, bear, or a turtle.
Fourth generation Huichol artisan Cilau Valadez visited CHS on Tuesday, November 8. Based on carbon dating of artifacts, the Huichol tribe has been on the North American continent for over 10,000 years. Huichol art imagery has spiritual meanings. During religious rituals Huichol Shamans receive visions from their gods. Those visions are then transcribed by artists into carvings, paintings, and elaborate textiles. Under the tutelage of his father, renowned Huichol artist Mariano Valdez, Cilau learned the intricate art form of Huichol yarn painting. His work has been shown at the Museum of Indian Art & Culture in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and at the UN Visitors Center in New York City.
The Huichol were land bridge crossers. By migrating into the who were able to maintain their culture in spite of European exploration by the Spanish conquistadors like Coronado and Cortes. Now, Cilau pointed out, “through our art, we not only preserve our traditions and culture, but we also have the great honor of sharing them with the world.”
Mr. Acosta’s 5th grade social studies class provides one example of how the artist’s visit affected CHS students. The class admired Cilau’s skill in creating the intricate, colorful pieces, including a yarn painting of the CHS mascot - the hawk. It starts with a combination of beeswax and pine resin onto a piece of thin wood and then manipulates very thin yarn of different colors into shapes and symbols.
Another example was how 5th grade students were able to make connections between their recent trip to the Mashantucket- Pequot museum in Connecticut, and the Huichol tribe. Like the Huichols, the Pequots basic foodstuff was corn. Many of the art pieces include symbolism representative of the corn god.
As part of this Education Outreach program, Cilau has visited 19 schools and 7,000 students to educate people on the traditions and diversity of native peoples. As he explains in his artist statement, “my role as a cultural ambassador and an artist is to connect the human eye with nature, spirit and our high universe.”
CHS was fortunate to have this Cilau Valadez, Huichol Ambassador visit us. Thanks to Merce Garcia and the Arts, Spanish and Building and Engineering departments for organizing this visit.