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Clean skies, big bear

Mountainview Elementary students take part in awareness art project

Posted: June 11, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: June 11, 2014 2:00 a.m.

Students at Mountainview Elementary wait for fellow students to fill in the bear shape for Daniel Dancer's "Art for the Sky" project at Pacific Crest Park in Saugus on Tuesday. Signal photo by Katharine Lotze.

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It’s a hot Tuesday afternoon at Mountainview Elementary School in Santa Clarita as more than 900 students dressed in various colors of white, tan, brown, and black file out onto the expansive grass field adjacent to the school. 

Their teachers place them in designated spots by color to fill an outline drawn on the ground.

Meanwhile, the artist climbs 80 feet into the air on a fire engine ladder to photograph the youngsters creating an image of a giant grizzly bear formed by the organized mass of multicolored participants.

Daniel Dancer calls himself an “artivist” — a combination of artist and activist. Dancer is the initiator of the grizzly-bear-image creation, and has been doing this for the last 15 years across 37 states and six countries.

The goal, Dancer says, is to teach people through art the importance of beginning a new relationship with the sky — and to make people more aware of atmospheric pollution.

“It’s a metaphor for getting together as a species to solve a problem,” he said Tuesday as the Mountainview students relished being outside the classroom.

“We’re trying to teach our kids about communion with nature and about their resources,” said Mountainview PTA Vice President Jenn Denzin, who helped organize the event. She has done similar work with Dancer at Northpark Elementary School five years ago.

On the bear’s paw is the number 350, which represents 350 parts per million, the safe level of carbon in the atmosphere necessary to continue to sustain life.

The image created Tuesday by Mountainview’s students will soon join others on Dancer’s website artforthesky.com with the goal, he says, of raising awareness for climate health in elementary schools.

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