Materials | Earthworks, grass mounds, painted concrete
Date | 2004-2009
In 2004 I began working as an after school art instructor at Marysville School in Portland. I had just recently been accepted to into the Master of Art Therapy program at Marylhurst University after completing the psychology prerequisites along with the fine arts degree that I received in 1999. I ended up deciding to not enter the art therapy program for a variety of reasons, but as a result I had been introduced to the need for an art instructor at Marysville by my counselor at Marylhurst University.
Marysville School at the time was in need of someone to create art with the students during the afterschool hours. Many of the students were refugees from all over the world such Africa, South East Asia, and Central America. The diversity of students being brought from their homelands where they had witnessed traumatic events as a result of war and other factors brought their families to Portland to make a new home. I began working with these students not as an art therapist, but as an artist who know first hand how art assists in expressing ones thoughts or emotions as well as helping to find a sense of peace or relief from the creative process.
Around the same time I also began working with the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde here in Portland teaching natural paint making and art classes to tribal members. I learned a great deal about the diversity of indigenous cultures to Oregon while working with the tribe and began collecting ethnographic texts full of traditional stories. I began to share my knowledge that I had learned from the tribal members and through these ancient stories with the students at Marysville.
This playground design helps to tell a particular story called "Tongue" from the Clackamas Chinook Texts. This work of art came into being as a result of my work with the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde who provided support through a grant from Spirit Mountain Community Fund. I also was able to write a project proposal to the Confluence Project to acquire financial support to work with the students during school time and incorporate art into the curriculum along with the indigenous cultural history of the Portland area and in particular the Clackamas Chinook tribe who would have lived in the area where the school is located.
Within the slideshow below are images of the playground itself as well as pictures taken from the artist in resident while I was teaching at Marysville School. The 4th and 5th grade students created some amazing art that their visual interpretations from the story of "Tonuge".
Marysville School playground before the remodel in 2004
A natural mineral painting I made for the playground design
Marysville Playground after the remodel in 2009