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Rosie’s Girls and the Richmond Art Center: Partnering for Strength

Two historic Richmond organizations are celebrating their ongoing, creative connection in this 80th year anniversary of the Richmond Art Center. For the past several years, the Art Center has partnered with Rosie’s Girls, a program designed to help girls build self-esteem, leadership skills, and physical confidence through an exploration of trades and non-traditional activities. The Rosie’s Girls program is part of the Rosie the Riveter Trust.

 

This summer, six local girls involved in the program learned the power and practicality of involving art in their lives. They participated in a Marketing and Design workshop taught by teaching artist Dawn Gonzales. The girls, primarily from low-income families in Richmond, spent three hours a week for four weeks and learned everything from creative brainstorming and design skills to concept  implementation and production.

“We covered new ground such as using graphic design software, message marketing and copywriting to incorporate the girls’ personal experiences into a branded promotional pop-up exhibit,” says Gonzales. “We learned to exercise resourcefulness, plan ahead, embrace our own uniquely creative ideas, and collaborate closely while having a lot of fun. It was an honor to work with these young women, our future leaders.

One foundation of the RAC’s success is that it believes that art is a critically important tool to for any child’s education, but especially in the K-12 years because of the thinking and creative skills it teaches. Once a child has the ability to think like an artist she can apply those abilities to almost any career she pursues and that’s why the Art Center is enthusiastic about one of its other popular programs – the STEAM camps and classes offered (science, technology, engineering, art, math) through our Art in the Community program.  The Art Center has adapted the well known STEM program and added the “A” to it, believing that the arts are vital to an integrated academic learning experience.

The Art Center’s screenprinting teaching artist Joyce Shon has worked with 30 Rosies for the past four summers, as a team with artist  Monica Gyulai. Shon explains, “The girls come to us at the beginning of the program to print tee shirts. One side has the Rosie’s Girls logo, to let everyone know that they are part of a team, and the other side has all of their names, expressed in their own hand, to remind them of their individuality. They learn the basics of screen printing, but also how to work together as a team.”

In general, the screenprinting class works with two groups of about fifteen girls. each group for one day. Some girls return for a second year, and Shon remarks, “Something I’ve noted is that they come back the second year with so much confidence and grace, and so willing to recall the skills they learned and help the newcomers. I credit the Rosies program with teaching the girls good values, teamwork and leadership as well as useful physical skills.  Seeing that keeps me coming back for each new group of girls. Oh, that and seeing the  delight and surprise of pulling that first print.”

Our Studio Education coordinator Lukaza Branfman-Verissimo has a unique relationship to Rosie’s Girls: “It made my day to see two of my favorite Bay Area organizations (Rosie’s Girls Trust  and Richmond Art Center) partner together to create such incredible work, that both honors the history of Richmond and looks upon the future. As a Rosie’s Girls Alumna and member of the RAC Education team, this is the kind of partnership and outcome I strive for and am so happy to witness it! It has been a joy to be a part of this project and watch it from start to finish. I look forward to planning future programming with these talented young women and continuing to work with the Rosie the Riveter Trust.”

We want to highlight that on Saturday, August 13th at 10 am, the National Park Service, in coordination with the Rosie the Riveter Trust, City of Richmond, and Richmond Museum Association, will be hosting the second Rosie Rally in the Craneway Pavilion, attempting to set a new Guinness World Record for the largest number of people dressed up as Rosie the Riveter since World War II. The record was set last year with 1,084 people, and the organization hopes to do it again this year with a goal of 5,000 participants. The rally event recognizes and commemorates the important work women – and all workers – did on the Home Front during World War II, and many original Rosies will be there to participate and cheer on the younger generations.

Please check www.rosietheriveter.org/rosierally2016 for more details.

The Rally will be followed by the annual Home Front Festival, which will be held in Marina Bay Park from 12 noon to 4 PM. A “parade of Rosies” will walk along the Bay Trail after the Rally to Marina Bay Park, where there will be music, food, vendors, and fun activities during the afternoon.

IMG_3300Our special Rosie’s Girls Pop-Up exhibit booth that was designed and produced by Dawn Gonzales’ class this summer will be set up at the event, so we encourage you to stop by and say hello.

During this 80th anniversary year, what’s especially notable is that the RAC’s participation with Rosie’s Girls not only adds to the strength and depth of the Art Center’s program offerings; it hearkens back to our founding history. The RAC originated in 1936, when local artist Hazel Salmi, who worked for the WPA, rode her bicycle throughout Richmond, with a suitcase full of art supplies, eager to teach art to anyone interested including the women working at shipyards and factories during the war.   

This partnership with Rosie’s Girls is a continuation of Salmi’s original vision: That within every person lives an artist.

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