Art Sale Funds GSE

Isabel Owens, Staff Writer

Students from Jill Langston’s art classes are taking the initiative in their community and communities in Latin America by donating artwork to GSE (Global Student Embassy.) This organization will sell the art at the Lafayette Library on June 1, to raise money for their mission to implement community-based solutions to ecological concerns by building gardens in schools.

According to Langston, GSE is an organization that creates community gardens in high schools throughout North and South America. “They’re an organization that works to bring together folks in Nicaragua, Ecuador, and the US, and it’s all about sustainable agriculture and teaching people how to eat healthily and grow their food in a healthy manner,” Langston explained.

GSE Director of Program Development Mallory Bressler visited art classes on April 28 to inform students of the organization’s objectives, hoping to increase participation in the fundraising event. “She just came into our classes and explained what she volunteered for and all the places they help out in. Then she told us about how we can donate some artwork to go in the garden and it would be a great thing to be involved with,” said freshman Charlotte Ketley, an Art 1 student.

All proceeds from the art sale will go towards GSE program expansion in Contra Costa County, Nicaragua, and Ecuador. “We hope to engage more students, schools, and communities in environmental restoration and activism while also growing more food for those in need,” said Bressler.

The event is not only a chance for students to address international climate crisis by assisting GSE in their mission to provide schools with gardens, but to show their gratitude for the organization’s presence in their own community. “We started that garden at Campolindo in partnership with Patrick Wildermuth’s environmental science class. We re-vamped the garden at Acalanes and at Miramonte. At Las Lomas, we started a brand-new garden with the environmental club,” said Bressler.

“I noticed students have really enjoyed the garden, and we used the garden ourselves, we went out there in the beginning of the year and created artwork,” said Langston. “We all get a kick out of the chickens, so all of those are great things that GSE has brought us.”

Senior AP Art student Amberlie Kaiser travelled to Nicaragua with GSE over spring break, and believes that her experience with building farms in the foreign country has increased her interest with the garden in her own community. “I started getting into the program working in our school garden, so now that I’ve gone there and I’ve seen what they’re doing abroad, I’ve definitely not only learned a lot, I’ve seen a lot about how to make our gardens better, but I’ve seen how their gardens are being sustainable, and the differences, and I’m much more interested in taking those back here,” Kaiser said.

Art 1 classes have created prints for the event, Art 2 classes are in the process of developing their prints, and Advanced Art students are also given the option to donate pieces. Although participation is optional, most students are creating prints for the sale. “There’s only a few students that don’t want to donate, but otherwise people are really excited about it. In fact, sometimes people are wanting to donate 4 or 5 things,” Langston said.

According to Bressler, student motivation has driven GSE’s program development. “GSE has repeatedly heard from students, teachers, and administratorrs that they are hungry for opportunities to engage in action relevant to their daily life and the lives of those around them, and they see the the ecological crisis as real, urgent, and meaningful,” she said.

Students are not limited in the content of their prints. Ketley chose to print, in bright pink ink, an image of a panda surrounded by bamboo, with a paw print in the top corner. “I chose a panda because I thought it would be interesting to do. We had to carve out areas that we wanted to be white, so I thought it would be cool to do a panda print with spots,” she explained.

Kaiser is incorporating her personal style. “I’m doing a lot of stuff that will sell well, like kitchen-type art, so like fruits and vegetables, and flowers,” she said. She is also painting copies of pictures taken of children in Nicaragua.

Langston believes that prints make good gifts for children and adults alike. “When we did the Haiti auction years back, prints were a big seller, because people could just go thematically along, some of them are really cute,” she said. Langston is using the same custom framers, Fastframe, as she did for the Haiti auction.

This is the first time Campolindo has partnered with GSE in a fundraiser, but not the first time that art students have raised money for a cause. “My students occasionally will do a fundraiser. For example, we raised $15,000 for the Haitian earthquake years back,” said Langston.

Although students will not receive any tangible reward for their work, Langston hopes that participants feel a sense of gratification for their effort. “It’s for a good cause, and I hope that they all feel good about donating, giving back,” she said.

Ketley is grateful to have been given a chance to participate in the art sale. “She told us about how hard it is for other places to grow crops and to have enough food, so I think it’s great that people like her are volunteering and helping another country,” said Ketley.

Langston is looking forward to a large turn-out at the event. “I hope students will come, and I know my older students want to go, because there’s going to be a lot of food and they’re excited for that. The seniors are travelling on their stomachs,” she said.

“I hope that we will raise money for GSE programs, engage new students and families in our program, give students an opportunity to showcase their incredible work, and get the word out about the work we’re doing in the community,” said Bressler.