This Spring, artists from Cedars, a Marin County-based non-profit dedicated to supporting individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, teamed up with high school art students at The Branson School in Ross to create an exciting new art exhibit, Heroes and Heroines. Through paintings and drawings, each artist depicted their own personal hero, with subjects ranging from Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the goddess Artemis to Spiderman and Dolly Parton.
From March 4 to April 23, the complete Heroes and Heroines exhibit was shown online, along with select pieces at Artist Within – A Cedars Gallery in downtown San Anselmo. Each piece of the exhibit was for sale, raising more than $2700 during the exhibition period.
Branson and Cedars have a shared history. They have been neighbors from more than 100 years and are located down the street from each other in Ross. In the last five years, participants from Cedars have paired up with Branson students through a Best Buddies program that centers on friendships and mutual interests. But the collaborative exhibit was the first time that artists from Cedars teamed with Branson’s art students to create an art exhibit together.
“At Cedars, our professional fine art program is designed to help our artists find their best creative expression,” said Chuck Greene, Executive Director of Cedars. “This kind of artistic collaboration has enabled the artists on both sides to learn from each other and be inspired by each other. It has unequivocally deepened our partnership.”
Due to the pandemic, both Cedars and Branson were required to be inventive in terms of matching up the two groups to discuss their inspiration for the paintings. First, the art students at Branson made videos detailing whom they had chosen as their favorite hero or heroine. The students described a wide range of picks — Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a popular choice, but several students also chose everyday heroes such as healthcare workers and personal family members. Then both teams participated in Zoom sessions to discuss their inspirations, with Cedars artists reacting to the videos and naming their own heroic selections. The whole team celebrated the partnership with a superhero-themed Zoom dance party. Branson wrote a post about the collaboration.
“My art students have been able to make those important connections with the Cedars artists, as well as learn from people who are as passionate about art as they are,” said Allyson Seal, art teacher at The Branson School. “It’s been interesting to see how both sides have approached the project, some very differently and others in a similar way.”
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Donna Berry Glass is a freelance writer in Marin County who writes mostly about family and kid-oriented topics. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with her family exploring the natural beauty of Marin, snuggling with her Cavalier King Charles spaniel while reading a good book or whipping up something delicious in her space-challenged kitchen. Donna is a supporter of the California Academy of Sciences, a world class science museum and research institution, and the Institute on Aging which provides much needed services to seniors and disabled individuals.