A recent graduate in Art Practice from UC Berkeley volunteers in a community art project.
“The annual Cinco de Mayo parade and festival (in Richmond, California) was started in response to a couple years of violence and destruction in the community. In 2006, a community soccer group, advocates and neighbors decided it was time to create a positive remembrance of the 1862 Battle of Puebla, inspiring the creation of a peace and unity parade where community members are heavily involved in not only participating but volunteering, organizing and donating.”
-Mike Aldax, Editor of the Richmond Standard
Over the past 2 months I had the pleasure of working with Patricia Rodriguez, a renowned Chicana muralist and teaching artist at the Latina Center in Richmond, California. We worked with Rebeca Garcia-Gonzalez, art in the community director for the Richmond Art Center to provide a float building class for the Richmond community to participate in this year’s “Peace and Unity Cinco de Mayo Parade.” Working with the community was a great experience because we got to offer activities for people of all ages, from watercolor to paper machéing chicken wire structures; everyone had something to contribute.
We chose 'conservation' as the topic of the project, and used mostly recycled material to construct everything for the float. During our initial class sessions all participants, from kids to grandparents, made drawings of what they wanted the float to look like. After everyone sketched their vision and talked about their ideas, members voted and decided on building an animal float. The decision was fitting to our theme, considering that human pollution is a great factor in many species becoming endangered.
Over the course of six weeks we made flowers and roses out of recycled paper bags and plastic water bottles, animals such as lizards, horses and monkeys out of recycled newspaper and paper maché, as well as butterflies cut out of cardboard. The float came together beautifully, and everyone’s face reflected the pride in their work as they marched and danced through the parade.
I enjoyed working with Patricia Rodriguez and the families from the 'Latina Center'. They were always excited and enthusiastic about coming to the class and contributing in any way they could. It was a great space for conversation and connections between the families. I believe that we need more community building projects everywhere to bring people together year-round the way that this class did.
Victoria Ayala, our new Programs Assistant at the San Francisco office, graduated from U.C. Berkeley with a degree in Practice of Art in December 2014. She enjoys making art in a variety of media, including oil painting, ceramics, drawing, stenciling and printmaking. She is currently working for Emergent Art Space and looking forward to continuing her work as a Spanish and Art teacher in the Bay Area.