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SFUSD Arts Festival showcases student creativity in action

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The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is one of a number of venues across The City hosting the SFUSD Arts Festival. (Ekevara Kitpowsong/2016 Special to S.F. Examiner)

Although painting, singing, dancing, drawing, writing, filmmaking, photography, drama and music-making happen everyday in our schools, most of us rarely have a chance to see children’s creativity in action. But this week, it’s on display and I encourage you to go see it.

SFUSD, along with the Asian Art Museum, SFMOMA and the Jewish Contemporary Museum are showcasing San Francisco’s youngest artists.

Every student in San Francisco’s public, private, independent and parochial schools is eligible to be part of the festival. This year, over 10,000 children from 250 San Francisco schools and community groups are participating or showcasing their work.

You will see animals featured in many forms. Teacher Linda Friou asked students at Redding Elementary to create ink drawings using wild animal portraits, choosing to do the whole animal, cropped or mainly the face. Students studied textures, patterns and contrast between details and open space. They analyzed proportions of the face. 

Across town at Marina Middle School, students explored how humans are encroaching on animal habits around the world. They used 3-D capture technology  and constructed armatures of small woodland animals whose habitats are being destroyed by expansion of new housing.

Lowell High School students studied Kintsugi ceramics. They made pots, broke them and put them back together with gold leaf. This Japanese tradition teaches that by repairing broken ceramics, they become even more valuable. The breakage is part of the history of the pot and should not be hidden. The “scars” are highlighted with gold dust.

In addition to visual art, there will be performing art. More than 80 student choral groups, orchestras, drama and dance ensembles, jazz bands and concert bands from all over San Francisco will perform.  In addition to bands and choirs, students from MLK Middle School will be singing acapella, Buena Vista Horace Mann will perform mariachi and Willie Brown students will showcase their steel pan ensemble.

The festival is celebrating it’s 33rd year and, like the art forms we showcase, we continue to find new avenues for expression.

For the first time this year we’re partnering with the Jewish Contemporary Museum to feature young writers reading their poetry and prose works. Also for the first time there will be a “Hamilton” sing-along for all ages.

San Francisco is known the world over as a haven for creativity. We are a city defined by our willingness to break the mold, to embrace new ideas and to invest in the future.

Resources from San Francisco’s Public Education Enrichment Fund (PEEF) and local community arts organizations enables SFUSD to provide every public school student with a rich arts education from preschool through high school graduation.

I invite you to enjoy this week’s festival and be inspired by the next generation of artists.

SFUSD Arts Festival
March 14-March 21 (closed March 19)
Asian Art Museum / 200 Larkin St.
FREE and Open to the Public

Select highlights
Community Celebration — March 15, 5 pm, Asian Art Museum
Elementary Music Talent Showcase — March 18, 2 pm, Asian Art Museum
Literary Arts — Sunday, March 18, 3 pm, Contemporary Jewish Museum

Vincent Matthews is superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District.

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