By Mireille Grovier, photography by Jay Grovier
My late husband and I were drawn to San Miguel de Allende by the amazing cultural aura that it provides. He was an architect and artist. I am an artist, poet, and writer. Years ago a friend invited us to a Mother’s Day program at St. Paul’s Anglican Church. The program was performed by staff and students of what was then Centro Infantil St. Paul’s preschool (CISP). That visit started a love affair that has endured for me even now that I am in California, after 16 years in our Mexican Paradise. Jay and I formed a membership and strong bond with St. Paul’s congregation and with personnel at the school.
I started a program at the school introducing the five-year-old “graduates” to art, opera, and ballet. The children learned that opera is a story where people sing instead of talk and that in a ballet people do the same with dance. They were introduced to many varieties of artists and their work, including the famous Masters, Impressionists, Art Deco, Art Nouveau and Abstract works, Australian Aborigine Artists, and Architecture. Picasso’s work helped them to learn different shapes in Spanish and English. Along with the illustrations they were shown the children experienced doll-like figures that I made of many of the subjects from art, opera, and ballet.
At each session, the children produced their own art interpretations of the subjects they were experiencing. They were not allowed to turn in their drawings until their work was signed. They were told that artists always sign their works.
The enthusiastic response of the children was truly rewarding. Their response was not only to the cultural influences to which they were exposed, but also to their own creativity. Being given a creative outlet had a particularly rewarding effect on children experiencing challenges such as Down Syndrome, Autism, and grief from the loss of a loved one.
The school now includes a day care facility and its name has changed to Central Infantil Los Angeles (CILA). Our bonding with the members of the staff was a particularly memorable gift to us. Two members of the faculty, Directora Patricia and Maestra Male, became our surrogate family members, and Male’s little daughter, Danna Yvette, continues to be my adopted grandchild.
Now that the corona virus is stretching its malicious grasp on planet earth, and most especially on academic institutions, CILA needs financial assistance in order to continue its remarkable mission of love and excellence in learning. Interested individuals are invited to visit the following:
Emergency relief: www.globalgiving.org/projects/helpingcilafamilies/
CILA’s website and social media channels are as follows:
Blessings for health and safety to all who are reading this.