Relatives With Roots – Arts & Education in the Natural World

Over the summer months of 2021, the Mel and Leta Ramos Family Foundation was happy to help support the activities of the Ojai Valley Green Coalition (OVGC) and its special arts education program for youth, Relatives With Roots. The program was designed by artists and educators and took place in the beautiful open space of Cluff Vista Park in downtown Ojai, California. The Foundation’s contribution supported the purchase of art kits for children ages 8-11 to work in small groups with experienced educators, healers, and artists, including renowned ethnobotanist Lanny Kaufer, art instructor, Pacha Maia, and Barbareño/Ventura Chumash elder and educator, Julie Tumamait-Stenslie. Each art kit included a spiral-bound Field Journal consisting of fifteen pages of watercolor paper and fifteen pages of sketch paper, drawing pencils, a pencil sharpener, an eraser, and a portable Field Sketch watercolor palette with a refillable water brush for each child to keep. The community leaders and teaching artists for each session facilitated observational drawing, painting, and sculpting of the natural world. By engaging youth with the forms and contexts of plants and plant-based knowledge through art, we teach them (by doing) that plant life, the climate, and their own creative expressions are not separate from the world around them. In these ways, arts education takes on qualities of curiosity and caring in relation to all living things.

All images are used with permission of OVGC. (C) 2021.