Another weekend of volunteering in Idyllwild!

Saturday afternoon, thirteen students registered as new volunteers at the Idyllwild library. Later that evening, twelve different students participated in the Town Hall’s haunted house event. Some used their visual creativity to create creepy makeup designs and others used their acting skills to play different roles in the haunted display. All proceeds go to benefit the Idyllwild Youth Foundation. On Sunday, seven students went to the HELP Center. They worked in the thrift store, which generates income so that the Center can provide valuable services to over 500 people in need in our community. Today, like most Mondays of the semester, five of our orchestra students will be teaching assistants for MUSICA, a local organization that gives free classical music lessons to underprivileged students in the desert.

Another great weekend!


Volunteering at the HELP Center

The Idyllwild HELP Center is the only local organization that works to comprehensively assist those in need. This Sunday, fourteen of our students visited and helped with day-to-day tasks in the thrift store, where the HELP Center earns much of its funding to pay for its services. This involved sorting clothes, yardwork, and reorganizing their inventory. In the future, we plan to do more with the HELP Center, including a food drive for the holidays.

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Guest lecture on social activism in music

Dianarose Frances has dedicated her career to using her musical talents to empower youth, most recently with an organization called Youth On Record that focuses on keeping underprivileged kids in school through music education and creating a safe community for expression. Dianarose spoke with our students about the different ways which music and other art forms can give voice to marginalized perspectives and work towards social change.



Printmaking collective Drive By Press visits campus

Drive By Press has been touring school campuses across the country for the last ten years, sharing their artistic method and “spreading the gospel of printmaking.” We were fortunate to have Idyllwild on this year’s tour stop! Linda Santana, our printmaking instructor, arranged for their visit.

In addition to giving masterclasses and teaching our Visual Art students during the day, Drive By Press also set up shop in our dining hall to do printing throughout the day.



Printmaking has a rich history of being a community-oriented art form that gives voice to marginalized groups. At night, they gave a lecture to our Art in Society students about their work. After graduation, our students may find themselves torn between their artistic passion, the struggle to make ends meet, and the desire to do something good in the world. The artists at Drive By Press provided a success story that proved artists can be successful in doing what they love and making the world a better place.

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Viewing of the first Democratic presidential debate

Earlier this evening the first Democratic presidential candidate debate took place. Students were eager to see Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders face off for the first time! The event was streamed live at Fireside room. Bernie Sanders was clearly the favorite and frequently won cheers from our audience of 41 students. Besides a few moments of technical difficulties, we watched most of the program before the night’s guest speakers, Drive By Press, arrived.

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SPOTLIGHT ON IDYLLWILD ARTS: InterArts Recycled Art Project

The purpose of the monthly “Spotlight” series is to highlight student and faculty work here at Idyllwild Arts that is not organized by the Art in Society coordinators but is directly in line with our mission and vision.


New iPhone models are being released nearly every year. Changes in the latest fashion trends are developing at an accelerating rate. In our fast-paced consumption-driven world, it is commonplace for manufactured goods to be treated as disposable. Often, no thought is given to the life-cycle of these products, much less the resources required and the environmental issues implicated. This is not the case for students at Idyllwild.

Last spring, Abbie Bosworth organized the students of the InterArts department and asked them decide on a project and theme for the following year. The discussion was a fruitful one. Students expressed a desire to make a piece that would have an impact on the world; specifically, they were passionate about addressing environmental issues. Not only did they want to create a piece that raised awareness about global warming and waste, but they wanted the artistic process itself to be in harmony with the natural world. Responding to the students’ input, Abbie arranged for the construction of a functional recycled art sculpture to be a major department project this year.

“This topic fired up almost all of our students,” Abbie said. They were committed to creating something that “would send a message about environmental responsibility to the community.” After brainstorming and deliberation, the students decided on the theme of drought because of its timeliness and relevance in California. The recycled art sculpture, currently under construction, will have an umbrella design and will act as a functional rainwater catchment and irrigation system. The students of the InterArts department are running a campaign on campus to collect glass bottles to complete the sculpture; their efforts also serve to raise awareness about the environmental issues they are passionate about.

recycled art 6During the first two Saturdays of the school year, the InterArts department bonded by working on the sculpture. Most of the recycled materials were collected from the maintenance yard on campus, although refuse from other businesses in town was also used. Abbie involved local community members on the project. Violetta Villacorta, an expert on sustainability in fashion and contemporary art, provided the students with many inspiring examples of conceptual art made from consumer waste. Earnest Merritt, a local sculptor, provided practical help with construction.

recycled art 5Abbie was very pleased with the initiative of the students. “I want to pull this theme across the whole InterArts department and make it our focus for this academic year.” Abbie also described the potential to explore the theme of sustainability in the InterArts fashion classes. The fashion industry “can be notorious for having a negative impact on the environment and for using a lot of resources” and it would be valuable to “focus on ways for fashion designers to think about designing with an awareness for taking care of our planet.”

Like many other students involved in the project, Eleonora Beran-Jahn found the process very meaningful. “Recycled art is important because it keeps us thinking about the past and the future at the same time.” She noted how the project shifted the way that students thought of waste. “In a bigger sense, this world is recycled, this era and the one after this one, we are all recycled.” Although she had known of recycled art before, Eleonora found herself considering new ways that trash could be used as a creative medium. “The project has really got me thinking of all the possible things I can do with recycled objects, and what doing so means to me, to the piece, and to others… To me, recycled objects have more meaning that brand new ones… I am a firm believer that objects have stories, and recycled art really brings those out.” Eleonora is excited to finish the sculpture and plans to make a short documentary to share the process with others. “More of these projects should happen around the world!”

recycled art 4With the successful project nearing completion, Abbie indicated the possibility of expanding the recycled art initiative in the future. “We had so many good design ideas that we envisioned the possibility of an ongoing sculpture garden next to the Fashion and InterArts buildings.” The current sculpture will be the first permanent recycled art piece on campus and will make a beautiful addition that integrates with the natural environment aesthetically, functionally, and ideologically. The frame has been completed and the project will be finished over the coming weeks.

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Director of the HELP Center talks about community involvement

Over 65% of the families in Idyllwild are poor enough that their children qualify for free or reduced lunch in school. The Director of the HELP Center, Colleen Meyer, and the Client Services Administrator, Skye Zambrana, talked about the programs and initiatives that they organize. From health care to nutritional needs to shelter, the HELP Center has an incredible array of services that they offer to over 550 clients in town. Colleen and Skye highlighted the importance of listening to each person’s story and the value of working to empower others.


Twenty-two students attended the guest lecture. They asked a variety of questions and brainstormed ideas of how the Idyllwild Arts student body could get involved. Every year, the National Honor Society of Idyllwild Arts, a group of academically-distinguished and service-oriented students, conducts a fundraiser to supply food to the pantry; this year, they hope expand the project and do more work in the community.


Alum conducts workshop on environmental activism and art

Dr. Amber Pairis and her colleague Danielle Boudreau visited our students on Friday. After graduating Idyllwild Arts in 1992, Amber combined her love for art and the environment by double-majoring at the University of California, Santa Cruz. After three years of field work in Hawaii, she went on to complete her Ph.D. at Antioch University. Since then, Amber has played many roles in the environmental movement, notably working for the government at the federal, state, and local levels. Most recently, she started the South Coast Climate Science Alliance which is dedicated to the conservation of the Southern California and Northern Baja coastal regions.

We were thrilled to have Amber and Danielle come and work with our students. In the morning, they gave a talk about climate change adaptation in Southern California to our Environmental Studies class.

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After an engaging presentation, our students had fun with an interactive role-playing activity to simulate community negotiations about responses to climate change.

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In the evening, Amber and Danielle conducted a workshop open to the entire student body. They focused on the “art-science network” and the power of artistic creativity to communicate scientific ideas and mobilize public action. In all, it was an inspiring day!



Volunteer training at the Living Free animal sanctuary

Just ten minutes from Idyllwild, the Living Free animal sanctuary is one of the leading no-kill shelters in Southern California. Situated on 150 acres of land in beautiful Mountain Center, the refuge cares for more than 100 cats, dozens of dogs, and several donkeys and horses.

Everyone was excited to see the animals! Fourteen of our students completed a training session so that they can regularly volunteer on weekends and help take care of the dogs and cats. Jeni Sponseller started bringing Idyllwild Arts students to Living Free several years ago. We look forward to continuing the tradition (and taking lots of cute pictures) throughout the year!




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Orientation at the Idyllwild Library

The beautiful, newly rebuilt Idyllwild Library was funded primary by the Friends of the Library who believe that access to information and an open public space for meaningful collaboration is key to the collective well being of any community. The operation of the library depends largely on the work of volunteers.


Idyllwild Arts is proud to start a new collaboration with the town library. Three of our students were given a tour of the facility by the director and were introduced to volunteer responsibilities. Our students will regularly volunteer on Saturdays throughout the year, helping choose and organize books, facilitate special events (such as readings and guest author visits), and create displays for the various sections of the library. We plan to have more of our students involved once the work is underway.





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