California Arts Council

State of California

Press Release Detail

October 20, 2009Mary Beth Barber

Arts Council joins the First Lady Maria Shriver at the Women's Conference on October 26-27

Works from Ventura and Alameda County's Juvenile Justice arts programs and LA-based arts for at-risk youth to be displayed

Sacramento -

The California Arts Council will join First Lady Maria Shriver and an estimated 20,000 Californians at the California Governor and First Lady's Conference on Women on Monday and Tuesday, October 26 and 27 at the Long Beach Convention Center. Featured exhibits include artwork centered on the Minerva theme created by teenage girls at both the Ventura County and Alameda County juvenile justice programs, as well as murals from Inside Out Community Arts and large-scale puppets from the Center for Celebration Arts, both Los Angeles County-based arts organizations for at-risk youth and communities.

Girls at both the Alameda County Juvenile Justice Center and the Ventura County Juvenile Justice Complex worked with professional teaching artists to create a series of Minerva quilts based on their own interpretations of Minerva. The programs are coordinated and supported by the Alameda County Arts Commission and the Ventura County Arts Council in the respective counties, and artwork from both programs will be on display at the California Arts Council booth. The image of the Roman goddess is on the California state seal and is the namesake of the prestigious Minerva Awards, presented each year at The Women's Conference to five remarkable women who have made exceptional contributions to their communities and society.

The Minerva-related arts projects serve to inspire young women through the arts.  "I believe I'm an artist -- someone with a creative mind," noted Ashley*, an incarcerated youth in Ventura County. "I think that having fun and doing what I like to do really let me put some energy in something positive." (*last names are not publicly released for minors in the program)

The specific arts projects served to develop both educational and self-esteem goals. The artwork focuses on the Roman goddess' qualities of courage, strength and wisdom, and the teens were encouraged to think about these traits in themselves when creating their artwork. 

"I didn't know (about) Minerva (before) ... honestly, I couldn't even remember what was on the California seal before this," continued Ashley. "I would like to paint more. I only thought I was creative when it came to writing."

Last year First Lady Maria Shriver enthusiastically supported the Minerva-related arts projects for at-risk girls: "I believe that each woman is the artist of her own life," said Shriver in 2008. "My hope is that young girls will be inspired by The Minerva Project to develop qualities they wish to see in themselves."

Two Los Angeles arts organizations involved in arts for at-risk youth and communities will also participate with the California Arts Council in The Women's Conference. The Center for Celebration Arts in Los Angeles -- an artist driven, community-based arts organization dedicated to engaging diverse communities in the creation of unique artistic expressions -- designed and created oversized puppets, including one of Minerva specifically for The Women's Conference. And Inside Out Community Arts, a nationally recognized theater-arts community nonprofit for at-risk pre-teens in the Venice area of Los Angeles County, will present a series of oversized murals created by students in the program.

Programs from the Alameda County Arts Commission, Ventura County Arts Council,and Inside Out Community Arts are currently or have been in the past supported by funds from the California Arts Council through sales and renewals of the Arts License Plate. The Arts Plate, with its iconic image of palm trees and sunset, was created in 1993 by California Artist Wayne Thiebaud, and since then proceeds have provided more than $20 million for arts programs for children and communities statewide. 

IMAGES AVAILABLE FOR DOWNLOAD for publicity purposes only -- see link. For more information about the California Arts Council, its involvement with The Women's Conference, or the other arts partners involved, contact the California Arts Council's communication director Mary Beth Barber at (916) 322-6588, (916) 835-5580 (cell) or

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Following are quotes from participants in the Minerva art project at the Ventura County Juvenile Justice Complex's Providence School upon completion of the project, as collected from Ventura County Arts Council staff and related parties. Teaching artist M.B. Hanrahan led the Minerva art project in late September and early October of 2009. Because of privacy concerns with the minors, only first names of the students are provided. Questions may be addressed to Mary Beth Barber, communications director, California Arts Council, at 916-322-6588 or


"This project helped me with my colors. I didn't know how many different colors or shades there were, or how different colors look together."

"It did help my creativeness."

"I knew who Athena was, but not Minerva."

"Yes, I definitely want to do more stuff like this."


"I believe I'm an artist -- someone with a creative mind. I think that having fun and doing what I like to do really let me put some energy in something positive."

"I didn't know Minerva, honestly, I couldn't even remember what was on the California seal before this."

"I would like to paint more. I only thought I was creative when it came to writing."


"I consider myself creative, and with the help of (teaching artist M.B. Hanrahan) it helped me develop control in my attitude."

"Before this project I did not know about Minerva, but during the time I learned that she was very intelligent and had many skills, with many different strong building blocks in her successful life."

"I was inspired in this project. It helped my self-control, just like Minerva was."

"Now knowing what I learned, I would help in trying to inspire someone else so they can be exposed to how it helps focus."


"I consider myself creative. (Teaching artist M.B. Hanrahan) showed me that even stuff that you're think is weird in the beginning can end up turning into something that looks really good."

"I already knew about Minerva, we studied Greek mythology in my other school.

"I don't want to become an artist, but I would love to paint in my leisure time!"

Kendall (who helped on a couple panels)

"I enjoy art and I enjoyed this project."

"I did not know about Minerva before working on this project."

"Another girl and I plan on doing an art project of our own when we get out."


"I consider myself creative, but not an artist. It made me think more creatively."

"I did not know about Minerva before this project -- that she had wisdom and that she was strong. And also learned that snakes stand for a warrior, and an owl stands for wisdom."

"Art is a way to calm myself."

"Yes, I want to be more creative."


"Usually when it comes to art it takes me a while to get started and come up with ideas. I don't think I'm the best, but sometimes I like what I do. I guess you could say I'm creative at times."

"This project has helped me with my creative development by showing me good art can also be something you could learn from."

"I had no clue who Minerva was. Now I know that she is a goddess with many different aspects to her that make her extremely powerful and has all the qualities that most would wish to have."

"I think that by doing this I have learned to take something simple and make it brilliant."


"I consider myself an artist. I love to paint. This project showed what I can do with what I had to work with. I now know that Minerva is a powerful woman."

The mission of the California Arts Council, a state agency, is to advance California through the Arts and Creativity. Members of the California Arts Council include: Chair Malissa Feruzzi Shriver, Vice Chair Eunice David, Michael Alexander, Adam Hubbard, Charmaine Jefferson, Chong-Moon Lee, Fred Sands, Karen Skelton, Susan Steinhauser and William Turner.

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