FPGB Mariposas Celebrate Book Project at Frank Gallery
On Sunday, December 8, many dozens of current and former students, staff and parents from Frank Porter Graham Bilingue (FPGB) welcomed supporters and community guests to a celebration at Frank Gallery in University Place for the official unveiling of a book project by the Mariposas. In important ways, the book has become a symbol for the school’s empowerment organization Mariposas. As FPGB School Counselor, Barbie Garayua-Tudryn, said, “Just as this book will be here for generations to come, we want the efforts of the Mariposas program to endure, too.”
The book is not yet a tangible product to buy and hold; that’s still a few months away. But Frank Gallery shone with the brightly colored fabric panels created by many of the Mariposas, who were all dressed in their matching red tee shirts. The teaching artists, author, Susie Wilde and studio artist, Peg Gignoux, shared the floor with the group leaders, the girls and the parents who have already invested hundreds of hours in the project since last spring.
As the organization’s founder, Garayua-Tudryn, said, “The students of Mariposas and the teachers of For Kids By Kids have been working tirelessly to create a bilingual children’s book that will honor the immigrant experience and elevate the themes of personal liberation and solidarity.” For Kids By Kids is an organization dedicated to co-creating picture books that reflect and support the ideals of partners whose visions address significant social issues.
The excitement among the Mariposas was unmistakable in the gallery, as was their pride in producing such rich and layered work. DL/ESL Lead Teacher, Kat Rangel has a daughter in Mariposas, and Rangel said, “Can you imagine seeing art you created hung in a gallery? Our Mariposa youth have worked hard this fall with the help of the teaching artists. They are so proud of their work and ready to share their voices with the world!”
The event was co-hosted by the Mariposas and For Kids By Kids to celebrate both their collaboration and the mission of the Mariposas. Guests learned the history and the far-reaching impact of the Mariposas, viewed the vibrant, evocative textile illustrations and heard an excerpt from the book, read by Mariposas students in English and Spanish. Delicious tamales provided the exclamation point to the festive occasion.
The day after the celebration, Garayua-Tudryn shared a message of thanks on social media, “The commitment, effort, solidarity and collaboration of our butterfly community, along with the talent, commitment and passion of the For Kids By Kids team was palpable last night. Our book takes shape and we have to celebrate it!”
“El compromiso, esfuerzo, solidaridad y colaboración de nuestra comunidad de Mariposas, junto al talento, el compromiso y la pasión del equipo de For Kids By Kids fue palpable anoche. ¡Nuestro libro toma forma y eso hay que celebrarlo!”
Retiring FPGB Principal, Emily Bivins, said, “This project is amazing. I am inspired to see the way the girls are able to articulate their journeys through words and illustrations that empowers them for their journey and inspires others.”
Over the many months as the book developed, 46 Mariposas from grades three through 12 gathered at FPGB two evenings a week for the artist residencies. Writer Wilde described the early stages of the project. “In the summer, I met with parents and children and we came up with a list of possible themes- all of them had a strength that blew me away.Then they came up with a character- a river that listens.”
Wilde continued, “Together we asked questions about this river: What was its name? Gender? Motivation? Over a series of sessions we learned the mystical story of River who wants to be ‘as big and powerful as Ocean’ and Moon who reminds the rushing, racing River that sometimes being big, as in flooding, can destroy spiders’ webs. The appearance of a storytelling girl helps River learn what true power is.”
“It was a large age span that made for unexpectedly wonderful collaboration,” Wilde said. “Barbie Garayua-Tudryn and co-leader, Fifth Grade Teacher José Nambo, referred to the younger ones as the orugas, the caterpillars, and their elders as mariposas, the butterflies. The older students were wowed by the creativity of the orugas, the youngers thrilled at the leadership and thoughts of the older students.”
Following the writing residency, artist Gignoux taught a 10 session illustration residency that began with the children dying cloth and then screen printing on their hand-dyed fabrics. The words on the cloth were printed in Spanish and English. They created landscapes from collages, finding inspiration in picture books.
As the School Counselor at FPGB, a Spanish Dual-Language magnet school, Garayua-Tudryn has maintained a laser focus on supporting students’ social-emotional needs through the tools and language of confidence-building and empowerment. Her work never steps away from helping students clarify and strengthen their voices and identities. Mariposas began under her leadership in 2014 with the mission of deepening engagement of Latinx children and their families.
Matt Cone, social studies teacher at Carrboro High School, said, “I have never met a more inspiring teacher/activist/counselor than Barbie Garayua-Tudryn. Beyond the amazing work that she does as a counselor at Franklin Porter Graham, Barbie pours her heart and soul into the Mariposas group that she founded and still leads. Barbie offers these students a set of experiences that simply would not be possible in a normal classroom. Students write lengthy narratives about their lives, they go on field trips, they make presentations in our community. In an era in which many Latinos feel less welcome in the United States, Barbie works tirelessly to help the students in the Mariposas develop qualities (determination, self-discipline, curiosity, activism, and tenacity) that will assist them throughout life.”
The collaboration between the Mariposas and the nonprofit, For Kids by Kids, has been generously supported by the Public School Foundation (PSF), Teaching Tolerance and countless contributions from community members who believe in the power of art to achieve social justice.
Be on the lookout for the book in late spring 2020. In the meantime, if you would like to support the Mariposas community in achieving their book fundraising goals, please visit the PSF website to contribute. Make sure you include "Mariposas Book" in the comment section.