City Heights San Diego: SDCAA has left its heart at Cherokee Pt. Elementary School

Updated: Feb 28, 2019

Cherokee Pt. Elementary School Kids Mural, “What I love about…”

By Linda Sheridan, 2019.01.07

San Diego Cultural Arts Alliance is celebrating its 15th mural project at Cherokee Pt. Elementary School. This mural is located in the center of the school on the Kassab Auditorium. What you will find is “Heart on Fire,” created by Jose Venegas. Leading out from this glowing, pulsating heart are over 300 pieces of the kids’ art, “What we love about...” The multi-faceted artwork is extremely relevant at this trauma informed school, created by past principal Godwin Higa. Each individual art piece gives us visual imagery of what touches the hearts of these kids—telling us what they love about their families, their community, their school, their lives, and more. In turn, they touch the hearts of each one of us. We love how this project demonstrates the power of art versus art as an object.

The Cherokee Pt. Elementary School is driven by the very meaning of each one of the artworks you see on the walls. Each piece is a pearl that highlights the gem that this school and its youth represent. For the Art Alliance, it is definitely a gem in the cadre of work we have been doing for nearly six years.

This organization’s work has been to listen to youth who have a need to express themselves through graffiti vandalism, while demonstrating to them there is a better, more audible voice through the art of mural-making. SDCAA has had remarkable success in its methods and approach, through schools and the justice system, from kindergarten to high school. Students who were dropping out when we started have gone on to enroll in college after graduating from high school. The joy of watching these kids grow, develop and transform is exciting.

There are more tools in the tool box than a hammer, and art is one of them.

Godwin Higa, past Principal at Cherokee Pt. Elementary School, who made it all happen.

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