Dream. Imagine. Create
This was the theme of the inaugural art exhibit sponsored by the San Gabriel Educational Foundation (SEF) where students were invited to express their Covid quarantine experiences using visual art.
By Chasity Jennings-Nuñez
Promoting Arts education for San Gabriel’s public school students has always been a priority for the San Gabriel Education Foundation (SEF). This past year, the foundation experienced all of the challenges of other non-profits- how to effectively engage students and families, how to maintain critical fundraising and how to develop new programs within the confines of the pandemic restrictions, to further the mission and goals of the organization. Dream. Imagine. Create accomplished all of those goals and provided San Gabriel Unified School District students with a creative outlet for the emotions that they were experiencing. “I am overwhelmed by the enormous success of the 2021 Art Exhibition, including the support we have received and importantly the impact on our youth and within the community,” said Executive Director Adela Angiuli.
Over 60 submissions were received from K-12 students. “We really didn’t know what we were going to get, but we knew it was going to be awe-inspiring,” admits SEF Events Chair Rosaris Paniagua. The artwork displayed everything from simple, yet powerful messages of resilience and love like in “The Covid Heart” by a kindergartener to the anguish, fear and uncertainty represented in “Tea Time”, by a Gabrielino High School senior. The program had three components starting with- a kick-off, drive-thru celebration on May 18th, where every artist was welcomed by SEF board members, Paniagua and Board President Alison DeVriendt. Each received a swag bag that included treats, gift certificates donated by Wetzel Pretzels and Nothing Bundt Cakes-Pasadena, and a custom deck of playing cards featuring images of students’ artwork. A “virtual museum” exhibition opened on May 20 and was shared with family and friends near and far. It was important to the SEF Board of Directors that they provide a chance to display the students’ art, not only virtually, but in a public space as well. Thirty pieces that captured the theme “Art in a Time of Quarantine” were selected by an independent agency for public display and developed into pole banners for display in the city.
The program has found broad community support, including from major partners like an anonymous donor-advised fund at the California Community Foundation, Cathay Bank Foundation, Chick-fil-A- Pasadena, and the Mission Valley Free Methodist Church. For many of the students who participated, the experience was transformative, particularly at a time when so many felt isolated and removed from all of the normal social connections and experiences of the school year. Many parents sent in letters of gratitude with similar sentiments, “My child finally felt a sense of inclusion”. Devriendt said, “There is no secret [to the success of the event]. It is the meaningful engagement and contributions of many that allowed us to support our youth and build community.”
SEF is already looking forward to their 2022 art exhibition! You can visit the virtual museum and take a walking tour of the public display of art banners that begins in front of the San Gabriel Mission Church and runs north on Mission Drive to Broadway, until the end of June.
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