kathleen crochetti public art santa cruz
February 2019

Student Artwork Goes Public

Kathleen Crocetti and her Students Collaborate on Public Art Projects

By Elaine Ingalls

The Water Street and Soquel Av- enue Bridges are more than a route of travel, thanks to Kathleen Crocetti and her students. They are art.

Crocetti has been the lead artist for 20 public art projects in Santa Cruz, including mosaics on the Water Street Bridge and the Soquel Avenue Bridge. Her students have worked on 16 of these projects. The Water Street Bridge features endangered species of the San Lorenzo River. She made mosaics with her students in class and took walking field trips to install them.

Crocetti teaches sixth, seventh and eighth grade art at Mission Hill Middle School. This fall will mark her 15th year.

kathleen crochetti public art santa cruz
ART FOR THE PEOPLE art teacher Kathleen crocetti takes student art out of the classroom and onto bridges, walls, and fashion shows.

In the fall, she teaches ceramics and 2D design. She teaches stained glass and multimedia in the spring. Crocetti previously taught fifth grade at Main Street Elementary School.

She said her love of art came from her mom and grandmother, both painters. Crocetti prefers to work in 3D mediums, including fiber, paper and metal.

“I always knew I’d be an artist too, but it was not until I went to college to study art did I discover that I’m an artist who prefers to work in 3D mediums,” she said.

Crocetti has also completed public art projects with students at the Bar- son Street Stairs, the Mission State Historic Park, the levee wall behind Trader Joe’s and the “New Day” and “Hope” mosaics at the Homeless Services Center.

Crocetti said that her favorite piece of public work that she’s done is “Ebb & Flow” at the Tannery Arts Center. Her favorite studio works are “San Lorenzo River” reflections and “California Oaks,” which are both glass mosaics.

Crocetti is the producer/director of fashionTEENS Santa Cruz, a fashion show for middle and high school students in the county. Over two hundred teenagers participated in last 

and metal.

“I always knew I’d be an artist too, but it was not until I went to college to study art did I discover that I’m an artist who prefers to work in 3D mediums,” she said.

fashionTEENS Santa Cruz
Photo by Neil Simmons WEARABLE ART Kathleen crocetti’s students design clothes for a show called fashionteens. aspen s. struts the catwalk.

Crocetti has also completed public art projects with students at the Bar- son Street Stairs, the Mission State Historic Park, the levee wall behind Trader Joe’s and the “New Day” and “Hope” mosaics at the Homeless Services Center.

Crocetti said that her favorite piece of public work that she’s done is “Ebb & Flow” at the Tannery Arts Center. Her favorite studio works are “San Lorenzo River” reflections and “California Oaks,” which are both glass mosaics.

Crocetti is the producer/director of fashionTEENS Santa Cruz, a fashion show for middle and high school students in the county. Over two hundred teenagers participated in last year’s events.

“I just like fashion as a communication outlet for wearing your ideas,” she said.

This year, Crocetti is fundraising for her “big idea.”

Under the Willie Brown Act, Crocetti will teach part-time and open an after-school mosaic art center for teenagers in Watsonville. She will hold workshops with professional mosaic artists from around the country. Crocetti hopes to cover Watsonville’s Civic Plaza building parking structure from top to bottom with mosaics from her students and other community members.

Her advice for artists? “Keep stretching, keep growing, don’t let your work get stagnant!” she said. “If you don’t fail once in a while it’s a sign that you are not pushing yourself hard enough.”

The Act allows teachers in the last five years of their career to work part-time and still receive full-time compensation. Crocetti plans to open an after-school mosaic art center for teenagers in Watsonville and teach part-time at Mission Hill.

She hopes that in five years, her students will have covered the downtown

parking garage behind the Civic build- ing in the style of Goudy.

She needs to raise one million dol- lars and train two teenagers to serve as assistants. Watsonville will provide the space for the studio.

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