Visiting Santa Clara’s Silicon Valley Animal Control Authority (SVACA) just got a little artsier, as the shelter is currently displaying student artwork of animals within the facility’s care on its walls.
In a partnership with the Palo Alto Humane Society (PAHS), the Adoptable Arts project features paintings by Anna Kogan’s advanced art students at Hillview Middle School in Menlo Park.
“I had an idea to connect with a local animal shelter because I wanted to make art more meaningful for my students,” said Kogan. “I wanted them to see that they could make an impact through their art as well as connect with the animals. I contacted a few shelters in the area, and SVACA was the most enthusiastic about partnering with us.”
Kogan’s students, who visited the shelter in October 2017, learned about SVACA, socialized and photographed the animals while visiting. They later painted the portraits—using a grid technique—currently hanging on SVACA’s walls. Additionally, each student provided a firsthand account of their experience.
“Playing with the cats was a great experience because it was cool to see what kind of personality each had,” said student Madeline Tomkins. “Also, it was cool to see them play so I could take a nice photo of them playing. My experience painting them was cool because I knew the painting would persuade people more to adopt the cats.”
Student Simone McCreary also enjoyed the experience. “Getting to play with the animals was so much fun,” she said. “You could tell the animals were well taken care of, and it was great learning about the animal’s personality. Photographing the animals was a bit hard because the animals kept moving. You just had to be patient to get a good photo. I loved getting to paint the animals. It was great to be able to portray the animal’s personality in the paintings. It was a great project and I am grateful to get the opportunity.”
The project even helped some students shed their fears about homeless animals and better understand how shelters, like SVACA, operate.
“Seeing the animals really opened my eyes,” said student Emily Ericson. “I always thought that the animals there would be feral and beaten up and mean. They were actually super sweet, though. You could tell they just wanted a home and being able to help them get that through the painting was an amazing feeling. Painting my cat made me feel super close to him, even though I only met him for a minute or two. It was an amazing experience and I hope that these animals get adopted.”
Nearly every kitten and all of SVACA’s dogs available when the class visited were drawn, and Kogen said the paintings took a few weeks to for students to complete. Once all images were painted, they were given to PAHS, who delivered them to SVACA.
“I see Adoptable Arts as an evolving program that sends a really strong message to the kids about animals in general, while allowing them to get creative,” said Janet Alexander, SVACA’s outreach coordinator. “It’s fun; it teaches an important lesson and the end results are amazing!”
Visit www.paloaltohumane.org for more information on PAHS and www.svaca.com to learn more about SVACA’s adoptable animals. Teachers interested in being part of the project should reach out to either organization to learn about ways to get involved.