Suzi Kades completes mural for Castaic Elementary School

Castaic Elementary School students pose in front of mural created by artist-in-residence Suzi Kades that was unveiled to the school on Monday, Sept. 25, 2017. Christina Cox/The Signal

After a week of hard work in the backstage area of Castaic Elementary School’s multipurpose room, artist-in-residence Suzi Kades unveiled her original mural to students Monday.

“It’s been wonderful,” Kades said of the experience.

As an artist-in-residence, Kades worked with students throughout the week, teaching them about her artistic process and sharing curriculum plans with teachers.

“We had a good turnout,” she said.  “We talked about what had changed since the day before and then what was happening at the moment and why.”

Artist-in-residence Suzi Kades unveiled her original mural to Castaic Elementary School on Monday, Sept. 25, 2017. Christina Cox/The Signal

Titled “Life is a Story,” the mural held true to its original design that was shared with students and staff Sept. 18.

The painting included a boy and a girl of different ages sitting on a mountain surrounded by books.  It also included a 20th anniversary yearbook, in honor of the school’s history, and an image of a cub, the school’s mascot, playing with butterflies.

Kades said she only made a few changes to the mural after presenting her design to students and Principal Stephanie Beach.

“I changed one of the big books to ‘Anne of Green Gables’ and then made a few minor aesthetic changes, but mostly just added details,” she said.

As students watched her complete the original mural, Kades said she hoped they learned how to turn their mistakes into something cool, how to stay determined and how to problem solve.

“I didn’t struggle as much on this.  There have been other experiences with artists-in-residence where I struggled a lot more and I feel like if I struggle a lot you really get to see that [problem solving],” Kades said.  “But I did get sick on Tuesday.  I mentioned that I was feeling under the weather and it was a challenge.”

At the beginning of the year, Kades knew she wanted to work with Castaic Elementary School because it was the school her own children attended years ago.

“It felt like home since I spent so many hours here… and because of my history here,” she said.  “It was great.”

Castaic Elementary School students look at a mural created by artist-in-residence Suzi Kades that was unveiled to the school on Monday, Sept. 25, 2017. Christina Cox/The Signal

The experience also allowed her to connect with students and share her passion with them.

“I love the experience of being around town and having kids look at me and say ‘I know that lady she’s the art lady,'” Kades said.  “I meet all these great kids, they make me cry.  They say such poignant things.”

The opportunity to work with the elementary school was offered through the city of Santa Clarita’s artist-in-residence program, which brings Kades to five different campuses each year.

“I am so grateful to the city of Santa Clarita,” Kades said.  “I can’t explain how this program works and why it works, but it works and it’s a huge blessing for the community.  I’m really appreciative that I get to be a part of it.”

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