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Musician and visual artist Ernesto Hernandez Olmos, along with Mayra and Gilberto Hernandez and Miguel Martinez, collaborated with Youth in Arts to create a multi-disciplinary presentation for children and families about traditional indigenous Meso-American cultural practices of Mexico–focusing on the ancient Mayan calendar or Chol’Qij. The project culminated with a ceremony and gallery exhibition at Youth in Arts as well as production of the CD El Chol’Qij, Voces de Nuestros Ancestros. Olmos also taught after school workshops at San Pedro Elementary School in San Rafael and he and Mayra Hernandez presented several weekend workshops in Marin County and, along with other project collaborators, a full-day community event at San Rafael High School.

Lead artist Ernesto Hernandez Olmos is of Mayan ancestry, born in Oaxaca. The traditions he uses in his work were passed to him by his mother, his family, and community elders. He studied music, dance, visual art, and sculpture in Mexico, continuing this study with elders in the Southwest United States and Mexico after moving to the Bay Area in 1997. For this project, he worked closely with Mayra and Gilberto Hernandez, Aztec dancers and practitioners of natural medicine, and Miguel Martinez, co-founder of the indigenous music ensemble Balamcoatl. Also collaborating were performing artists Nydia Gonzalez and Miko Lee of Youth in Arts.

Youth in Arts has provided arts programs for youth for more than 40 years. In addition to an extensive school residency program in visual and performing arts, Youth in Arts Presents programming reaches thousands of Bay Area students.

– Photo by Natalia Aldana