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Sonoma County Gazette
Creative residency
Students listen to one of Creative Sonoma's resident artists.

Creative Sonoma Residencies Support Students in Fire Recovery

Oct 15, 2018


The children stood unusually still as the Vaseline was applied to their faces. They continued to refrain motionless as the wet strips of gauze were slowly applied on top of the Vaseline, capturing their faces' shape and outline. 

The entire process demanded the students' bravery and trust. The gauze strips dried completely into a mask, which was painted and decorated to represent the way the students appear to others. Teaching artist, Christina Klauenburch, discussed what it's like to wear a mask, both literally and figuratively.

With the trauma from last year's fires, many students have felt as though they are putting on a mask to appear happy and brave to their families and friends, despite what they're really feeling inside.

Arts and trauma residencies like this one are an effort by Creative Sonoma to support fire recovery for Sonoma County students. Provided at no cost to public schools in all grades, these residencies uses the talents of training of a dynamic group of teaching artists, crafting an experience tailored to each situation. Thirteen of these residencies have been completed so far at schools and Boys and Girls Clubs. And thirty-six more are scheduled for this fall.

A student's artwork

Residencies are still available in visual art, music, drama, movement, and the literary arts. Teaching artists and school staff plan together to create the most effective experience possible. Artists engage with the same group of students for up to six hours of instruction, allowing ideas, discussions, and trust to fully develop in processing last fall's fires. Residencies will be completed by the end of October 2018.

"These art residencies have the ability to help our youngest, and often most vulnerable, fire survivors find a way to make peace with their experience," said Chair of the Board of Supervisors, "Being able to express their feelings through art is a solid step toward understanding and acceptance."

The funds for these residencies are available thanks to the generosity of Redwood Credit Union Community Fund, the Hewlett Foundation, and individual donors to Creative Sonoma. Creative Sonoma is dedicated to advancing and supporting the creative community of Sonoma County.

For more information on the residencies, please call Debbie Yarrow at 707-565-6123, email or visit


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