Forest Charter class project raises money for Nevada County artists |

Forest Charter class project raises money for Nevada County artists

Jennifer Rain Crosby painted this scene, inspired by the writing of a Forest Charter sixth grader named Elio.
Submitted to The Union

On a mission to teach their students about descriptive writing while guiding them to impact their community, student teacher Alicia Frost Vandevorst and teacher Michelle Litton Ogaidi organized “The Mirror Project.”

They challenged their students — the sixth- through eighth-grade PACE program at Forest Charter School — to set a scene through a piece of descriptive writing, which 26 local artists then used as inspiration for pieces of art meant to reflect the students’ writing as closely as possible.

Ogaidi said that, after asking the local artists for their help, she and Vandevorst wanted the project to support the local artist community in return.

They planned an auction for the artwork, with 75% of the proceeds from the auction to go toward the Nevada County COVID-19 Artist Relief Fund, and 25% toward PACE’s activities fund.

As of Friday afternoon, total bids had reached over $1,500. Bidding will remain open until 8 p.m. today.

“The art mirrored the students’ work,” said Ogaidi, explaining the name of the project. “Each piece is really different and you can see (the artists’) personality in it, but we just wanted them to try their very best to stick to the word to show the kids … whether they did a good job including imagery in their piece.”

Ogaidi said that in “art reveals“ over Zoom calls with the students, they were able to discuss the connection between the art and their writing. ”I can’t tell you how proud they were,” she said.

Jennifer Rain Crosby, one of the artists who volunteered her artwork for this project, said it was “so much fun,” and hopes it becomes a yearly tradition for the school.

Crosby, who was working to finish some pieces for her Nevada City Winery art show when she was approached about participating, thought at first she wouldn’t be able to take on the task.

“But I didn’t say anything, and instead I went and looked at the writing, and I just fell in love with Elio’s raven,” she said. Her painting brought to life the writing of a sixth grader named Elio.

“The black steampunk raven was sitting in an antique birdcage in a blimp over the sea, wearing a raven-sized black top hat with a working metal clock on it,” his scene began.

Crosby said that, from increased challenges in holding art shows to decreasing commissions from businesses that are struggling themselves, her business as an artist has taken a hit amid the pandemic.

On the project’s community goal, contributing to financial relief for local artists, Singer said, “I remember being really glad that someone was thinking about us.”

Victoria Penate is a staff writer for The Union. She can be reached at


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