Service-learning art project debuts in San Rafael

A public art project designed to highlight the issue of educational equality in Marin County was installed on April 26 along a freeway underpass in San Rafael.

The “INSIDE OUT-Educational Equity in Marin” project features photographs of Dominican University of California students, local high school students, and young mothers and their children. Each 3' x 5' portrait is affixed to a freeway underpass below Interstate 580 to form a five feet high by 84 feet wide installation.


"Our project, "INSIDE OUT: Facing the Gap" aims to make the faces of our invisible youth visible as well as the geographic boundaries that often divide the losses from the gains," noted Lynn Sondag, chair of Dominican’s Department of Art, Art History, and Design. Sondag and colleague Julia van der Ryn, director of Service-Learning at Dominican, worked together to develop the project.

The project is being offered as a service-learning course in which Dominican students are enrolled and the local youth and young mothers are full participants, experiencing the course material and activities alongside the college students. To prepare for the photographs, all participants are telling their social biography and interviewing each other to write a narrative statement about what education means to them.

INSIDE OUT is inspired by French street artist and TED-Prize winner JR’s call for people around the globe to turn the world “Inside Out” by sharing a photo portrait along with a statement about what they stand for. In the past year, similar projects have been created in more than 9,500 locations in the U.S. and overseas. This is the first project to be installed in Northern California.

In February, new survey data from the US Census Bureau revealed that Marin County is the most educated county in California, and among the most educated areas of the United States.

Yet, the 2012 report titled “A Portrait of Marin.” issued by the American Human Development Project and funded by the Marin Community Foundation, highlights educational disparities present in this county. These disparities include lagging educational attainment among Latinos—the fastest-growing population group in Marin and in the U.S.—which has important implications for the future workforce in Marin and across the country.

“Dominican University of California is uniquely positioned as the only four-year college in Marin County to develop and expand our role as an advocate for education justice, working with our community to increase access for all people to a full and dynamic educational experience,” van der Ryn said.

Media Contact: Sarah Gardner, Director of Communications, [email protected], 415-485-3239.