AREF/Okada Design Collaborations:

Dia de los Muertos Calaveras Workshop (September – November 2014)

Link to their website:

This workshop’s was a 3D Exploration that engaged middle school and high school students in learning 3D CAD designing tools to bring their artistic and design ideas to life in 3D forms. Teens reflected on the cultural holiday, Dia de los Muertos for this workshop. They used Tinkercad to design and create 3D calaveras (skulls) using either a 3D model of a skull, or creating one from scratch, and then add details reflecting on someone special in their life. Their sugar skull designs represented someone close to them that they wanted to honor. After the workshops, the 3D designs were printed using glow-in-the-dark filament and were installed at the library from October 16th -November 13th, 2014. Each design included a statement from the artist about who they were honoring. After the installation, the teens took their creations home.


The workshops were held at the Dr. Roberto Cruz-Alum Rock Library in East San Jose and financially supported by AREF and The Friends of the Alum Rock Library.

Click here for instructions on creating your own 3D Calaveras

You Are Here Street Banner Project (January to June 2011)

Link to their website:

5th grade students in San Jose and in Hawaii created textile designs reflecting on local community visual vocabulary. Students used VoiceThread to discuss and explore each other’s pattern designs. Students created digital textile designs and created Japanese furoshiki wrapping cloths. With an expanded understanding of visual vocabulary, the San Jose students then photographed their neighborhood using single use cameras. Collaboratively they created street banners from the photos and the digital patterns they created from the photos using the program Repper. Students presented their street banner designs to a local business group and to the San Jose Office of Cultural Affairs for approval and installation. Students also taught components of the workshops to the public at the Montalvo Art Center’s Art Splash. The project was honored as one of the nation’s top 100 innovative education projects at the Microsoft National innovation Education Forum 2011. This project was supported by an AREF grant and the foundation also acted as the Fiscal Sponsor for additional grant funds.

Banners are currently hanging in the Alum Rock Village at the corner of Alum Rock Ave and White Road. Banners are also on display in the Internet Café at the Dr. Roberto Cruz - Alum Rock Library, The Alum Rock Union Elementary School District Office, and in Councilmember Xavier Campos’ office at San Jose City Hall.

Picking Strawberries on Gold Mountain (April to June 2010)

Link to their website:

This animation workshop series integrated social studies, art and technology. 4th and 5th graders at Cureton Elementary School in Alum Rock created collaborative videos about the history one of San Jose’s Chinatowns - Heinlenville, which was buried under a municipal bus yard for decades.. Students sketched and studied real artifacts from an archeological dig and distilled their knowledge into three animations. A Chinese immersion school in Cupertino created the music for the video. Final videos are in the Next Vista for Learning video library. The video won the Excellence in Media Production: 4th/5th – Animation at the International Student Media Festival in 2010. You can view the final video, Heinlenville A History, at: This project was also honored as the winner of the 2010 Rambus/KCI Innovation Award. This project was supported by an AREF grant.

Thinking Outside the Box - Stop Motion Animation (April to June 2009)

Link to their website:

4th and 5th graders at Cuerton Elementary in San Jose created a collaborative animation that represented their ideas on “thinking outside the box”. Students worked in teams to film and move the clay parts. They narrated each of their own sequences using the free tool Audacity. The narration part was great for ESL students as they could keep recording their voice until they were happy with that they said. Students explored importing and organizing still images in the free animation tool Monkey Jam. Final editing was done in Premiere Elements. The final video won first place at the 44th Annual California Student Media Festival in the Elementary School Fine Arts category. There is only one winner in each category for the entire state of California! The video also won the Judges Favorite Award at the International Student Media Festival in 2009 and was honored as a runner up for the 2009 Rambus/KCI Innovation Award. This project was supported by an AREF grant.

Click here to view the video on SchoolTube

Other Okada Design Projects engaging Alum Rock students in collaborative art, design and technology projects:

A Serving of Shapes/an Exploration in 3D Printing (January 2014)

Link to their website:

This workshop engaged teens at the Dr. Roberto Cruz/Alum Rock Library and at the Mayfair Community Center. Teens were able to explore 3D printing using the software Tinkercad and SketchUp. Their 3D designs were printed on an Afinia 3D printer for installations at both locations. Participants’ designs reflected on local agriculture history and their personal relationships with food. The resulting sculptures were integrated into an exhibition at the de Saisset Museum at Santa Clara University and traveled to the Dr. Roberto Cruz/Alum Rock Library and the Mayfair Community Center. The workshops were made possible through the support of the de Saisset Museum, an Applied Materials Excellence in the Arts Grant, and the San Jose Museum of Art’s Around the Table Initiative.

For additional photos of the workshop visit:

Special Spots (January to March 2013)

Link to their website:

A youth project engaging high schools, middle schools and elementary schools in developing art concepts to inform the real design of 8 bus stop shelters in San Jose. 6th at Renaissance Academy at Mathson and 5th grade students at Goss Elementary School participated. Students mapped their personal transit paths through their communities and created automata which integrate this data as well as explore their written thoughts and reflection on special places in their community. The Santa Clara Valley Transit Authority and San Jose Office of Cultural Affairs funded this project, and the final bus stop shelters are being designed by Merge Conceptual Designs in L.A.

Patterns for freeway bike and pedestrian overpass (2011 – 2012)

Link to their website:

6th grade students at Renaissance Academy at Fisher explored radial pattern design on paper and in the software program, Repper Pro. They also documented their neighborhoods using single use cameras. Selected designs will be incorporated into concrete and laser cut steel patterns on the Highway 101/Tully Road and Highway 101/Capitol Expressway overpasses. The project was supported by the Santa Clara Valley Transit Authority and the San Jose Office of Cultural Affairs.

In November 2013, concrete line formers were poured at the HWY 101/Tully Road overpass.

The Ribbon Cutting Celebration for the Pedestrian Overpass Public Art is on May 30, 2014. In addition to the pilasters above, entry pilasters have also been added on both sides of the overpass.

In September 2014, San Jose City Council honored the students whose designs were used on the line formers and pilasters, giving them a Commendation for their efforts.

Seeking Shelter Design Challenge (September 2011 to December 2012)

Link to their website:

This multi-school and multi-state project engaged youth in envisioning innovative bus stop shelters which address community and environmental needs. Students in California (4th graders from Cureton Elementary School & 6th in Alum Rock School District, and 5th graders from Cupertino) graders from Renaissance Academy at Mathson, Hawaii (4th grade), Pennsylvania (4th grade), and Utah (4th/5th combo) participated. Cardboard prototype designs and SketchUp 3D rendered models were judged by an international panel of architects, designers and public transit authority engineers. High school through elementary school students participated and the participation of a school in Azerbaijan (4th grade) turned the project into an international one. Students from California also taught the public components of the workshops at a street festival. Project supported by the Zero1 Art & Technology Biennial.

Corinne Okada Takara – AREF Board Member and sole proprietor of Okada Design

Corinne is a Bay Area artist and arts education specialist. Her technology infused youth art projects in Alum Rock have received state and national recognition. She has engaged Alum Rock youth in collaborative art projects since 2006. Corinne creates narratives exploring the intersection of cultures in her collaborative community projects. She majored in Design at Stanford University and received the Guilla MacFarland Award in Design upon graduation. She has been recognized by the City of Cupertino with The Distinguished Artist Award and in 2010 was honored as a KCI Merit Scholar by the Krause Center for Innovation. Her education workshops in Alum Rock have led to state and international awards for student animation projects, as well as to student exhibits at the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles and at Montalvo Arts Center. She has designed and participated in numerous grant projects.

Visit Okada Design at:



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