As part of his art assignment, Ray Nelson, a third grader at Bubb Elementary School, had only yellow, black and white permanent markers and a blank sheet of paper to create a portrait of his classmate.
Nelson mostly forgot about color, paying special attention instead to the size and shape of Gaku's hands and the lines in his eyes while drawing his portrait, which is now hanging in the Mountain View City Hall rotunda with about 200 other student projects.
The artwork is part of a Community School of Music and Arts collaboration, titled "Tell Me a Story," in which students from 15 local elementary and middle schools were asked to capture a story in their artwork. The final exhibition includes collages, paintings, sculptures and drawings, all on display at City Hall until March 27.
"Students drew inspiration from children's literature and used their imagination and personal experiences to create their own stories," CSMA's visual arts director Linda Covello said in a press release.
Through her portrait assignment, teacher Mira Ross hoped Nelson and his peers would get to know their subjects better. They were asked to write facts about the subjects around the border of the paintings, and Nelson wrote "Gaku likes to paint" on his.
A reason for the assignment, Ross wrote, was that "After three months of school, students in the same classroom ... knew little about each other."
This is the 12th year students have displayed their art in a collaborative project through CSMA. The Mountain View nonprofit serves more than 7,000 students each year through art and music classes, and its instructors travel weekly to local schools. Students from Bubb, Castro, Huff, Landels, Monta Loma, Theuerkauf and Yew Chung Chinese schools in Mountain View all currently have art hanging in City Hall.
Instructors also created their own pieces, and Covello said a lot of the projects were inspired by the teachers' own specialties. Because of this, the exhibits vary widely from class to class.
Behind the portraits, Castro first graders displayed the books they painted based on nursery rhymes read in class.
Tracy Ogino illustrated a rhyme called "Little Tommy Mouse," about fishing. She drew the fisherman and his house on the cover, and included a garden with her favorite vegetables.
"The man who owned the house has a garden with flowers and carrots," she said.
What: "Tell Me a Story," an exhibit by dozens of local students
Where: Mountain View City Hall, 500 Castro Street
When: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, through March 27