In a bright classroom at Seaside's Highland Elementary School, about 20 girls became miniature van Goghs for an afternoon as they dipped paintbrushes in water and began painting their own versions of "The Starry Night." Their guides were members of Santa Catalina School's Art and Art History Club, who taught the children about the Dutch artist and his style of painting before helping them explore the colors and swirls of van Gogh's best-known work.
It was the first event at the school hosted by the club and organized by its head, Maya Pruthi '19. The club allows Santa Catalina students to bring their knowledge of art and art history to children at schools where these subjects are not available. At the beginning of the year, they led a similar activity at the Family Resource Center in Salinas, which has formed a monthly service partnership with Catalina. That experience, which focused on Andy Warhol and pop art, inspired Maya to branch out.
"I was able to not only see how the art history lesson and art project influenced the young girls in Salinas, but I also noticed how much the conversations that we had with them and the bonds that we created meant to them," Maya says. "I wanted to bring these experiences to young students at other schools."
She approached other schools in the area, and the principal and faculty at Highland expressed excitement and support for the idea. "I knew that their students would appreciate and value learning and spending time bonding with the girls in our club," Maya says.
The first event, held January 26, certainly reflected that. The young girls, in grades 2 through 5, were bubbly and engaged as club members floated from table to table to talk to them about their artwork, their favorite activities, and other aspects of their lives. At the end of the afternoon, after everyone had waved their friendly goodbyes, the Santa Catalina students were already looking forward to next time.