A joint arts program between the Boys & Girls Club of East Menlo Park and the Cantor Arts Center culminated in a final presentation and gallery tour last Friday.
Eighteen children in grades three through five participated in a two-month-long outreach program, which entailed bi-weekly art lessons from a Cantor Arts Center educator along with art-making visits to Cantor’s galleries. Friday evening was a chance to show off their completed art projects to their families and to have a final tour of the museum.
Lauren Hahn, family programs coordinator of the Cantor Arts Center, created the joint program two years ago following her successful implementation of Family Sundays, which provides free docent tours and art-making sessions for the public throughout the year.
“We were expecting a lot of community participation [in Family Sundays], which we overwhelmingly received, but what we were surprised by was that the communities that we really wanted to have visit us weren’t coming, including the the underserved populations,” Hahn said.
After reaching out to the executive director of the Boys and Girls Club, she learned the reason why members from underserved populations were not attending the event.
“There are psychological barriers to coming to a university and to an art museum. For many families, they’ve never been inside a museum and would not know how to be, and it would be incredibly intimidating to visit on their own,” Hahn said. “The best way to make a bridge to their communities would be to go to them.”
Subsequently, the joint program was born.
This round of the program with the East Menlo Park Boys & Girls Club was taught by Anna Fankhauser, a museum educator at the Cantor Arts Center and art teacher at the John Muir Elementary School in Cupertino. Fankhauser explained that her twice weekly hour-long sessions at the Boys & Girls clubhouse had a weekly theme to introduce artists’ body of work to the children along with an element of art, such as shape, form or design. Ultimately, the children created artworks inspired by these lessons.
“A lot of [the children] don’t have art in school, so that’s really a great project for them,” Frankhauser said.
The final, celebratory evening of the program at the Cantor Arts Center began with a physical exploration of the sandstone piece “Stone River,” created in 2001 by British sculptor Andy Goldsworthy. The children climbed the 128 ton sculpture, which is made from 6,500 stones saved from University buildings decimated in the 1906 and 1989 earthquakes and is installed right outside of the Cantor Arts Center.
Next, the group returned the Center for a dinner and to view a display of their art projects. Finally, they broke out for a docent-guided tour of three displays that informed their own artwork during the program: the “Living in the Gilded Age” room, which contains Leland Stanford Jr.’s possessions, the “Edward Hopper New York Corner” and finally Rodin’s “The Thinker.”
Fernanda, a 10-year-old participant of the joint program who attends Belle Haven Elementary School, spoke about four of her art projects inspired by pieces in and around The Cantor Arts Center. Her self-portrait was motivated by Leland Stanford Jr.’s portrait, and her mosaic was inspired by the mosaics on the façade of the museum. A standout artwork of hers is a gold-painted miniature statue of a person reading under a tree, which she explains is her take on “The Thinker.” Her final piece is a replica of “Stone River.”
“We got inspired by the ‘Stone River’ outside and decided to do biggest to smallest. Then, we made them out of cardboard and, we used tape to hold them down with some glue and some fabric so it was more realistic.”
The joint program will resume this January in affiliation with the East Palo Alto Boys & Girls Clubhouse.
Contact Rebecca Aydin at raydin ‘at’ stanford.edu.