Beautiful Are the Souls of My People

by Candice Jacobs, Creative Arts Lead Teacher,  Janice Mirikitani Family, Youth & Childcare Center

Beautiful Are the Souls of My People,” an exhibit of youth art from the Creative Arts program at GLIDE’s Janice Mirikitani Family, Youth and Childcare Center (FYCC) drew inspiration from the Langston Hughes poem, “My People.” The exhibit features art by children in the preschool and afterschool programs at FYCC. Every child ages 3 through 11 was represented through their artwork and creative voice. 2011 created many moments for learning to see differently, through the eyes of an artist. We began to look at ourselves with more focus and appreciation of what makes each of us unique. We asked the children to look at themselves carefully, and to look for the differences and special features, even changes they notice over time. As a teacher who sees these youth every day, I see the small, yet significant changes in them as they grow; much like a parent does.

Allowing children to be conscious of their changing faces and bodies, I believe, can help them to be more comfortable in their bodies and enhance the confidence in their self-image. We focused on the self-portrait and it became the inspiration for the first FYCC art exhibition in the Creative Space, located in the Celebration Office of the Founders Cecil Williams and Janice Mirikitani.

Children, especially the very young, are naturally self-involved during childhood development, making self-portraits an easy starting point for many. I love how a portrait shares the energy and the soul of a person.

I even photographed the youth and families to create black and white photography portraits as gifts to the mothers of our clients.

This exhibit helped to set into motion, a goal of making our program more visible not only at GLIDE, but also to the San Francisco community and beyond.  As the art instructor here at GLIDE, I am so pleased to touch more than 100 children and their families per week, through my art classes. Many of the youth do not have fine art instruction in their core daily curriculum at school. I know our clients benefit from the practice and study of art; I like to think it gives us our humanity and sensitivity as well, making us whole beings.

It is joy to have this opportunity to blog and share my work and the creativity of young minds with the world.

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