Indian Wells Arts Festival Features Student Art Inspirations

The Ophelia Project gives female students an art outlet for self expression

Nicole Borgenicht Arts & Entertainment 0 Comments


VIDEO: Watch how The Ophelia Project art program, headed by La Quinta artist Gideon Cohn, has impacted Coachella Valley students.



At the entrance to this weekend's Indian Wells Arts Festival, be prepared to see more than 600 butterflies.

Female students, ages 13 to 17 from across the Coachella Valley, have created silk banners featured in a display, Taking Flight, from a workshop created by La Quinta artist Gideon Cohn.


photo courtesy of the indian wells art festival

The Indian Wells Art festival features 200 artists, live entertainment, food, drink and children's activities.


The 13th annual Indian Wells Arts Festival will once again take place on the grass plaza of the newly expanded Indian Wells Tennis Garden, April 3-5, featuring 200 acclaimed artists. In addition to viewing and purchasing art, more than 12,000 attendees will have the opportunity to enjoy live entertainment, wine and cocktail stations, food kiosks, and children’s activities throughout the weekend, as well as to visit the highlighted “Objet Trouvé” Found Art Festival in an adjacent exhibit area.

Cohn's student art display is part of The Ophelia Project, which originated 17 years ago in the Coachella Valley and designed as a group-mentoring program for girls who were selected by their schools as having special potential. A program of the Healthy Family Foundation, The Ophelia Project implements a customized curriculum focused on teaching self-esteem and trust through instruction in areas like art during the school day.


Photo courtesy of The Ophelia Project

A secondary display by The Ophelia Project at the art festival will be large Ophelia letters created on a panel by each student.


Cohn began his art program in 2009, and his workshop includes 16 sessions with the help of his artist wife, Melody. This past year he has reached more than 500 girls from several Coachella Valley schools.

“We added an art component to the Ophelia curriculum because we believe in the value of the arts and the immense way the arts benefit youth," says Susan Francis, CEO of The Ophelia Project. "Gideon is engaging, a great instructor, very personable. Since adding the art program, the students are more engaged in school and Ophelia. Absenteeism has decreased and attendance has increased."

In addition to the butterfly banners, festival attendees can view a project that Cohn oversaw two years ago. “We will display the large Ophelia letters whereby each girl had created a panel covered with scrap fabrics, all mounted together to form the large letters (6 -feet tall and 40-inches long),” Cohn says.


photo courtesy of the indian wells art festival

Festival attendees can visit the highlighted “Objet Trouvé” Found Art Festival in an adjacent exhibit area.


Attendees can also view on-site demonstrations of glass blowing, painting, weaving, large scale stone sculpturing, larger-than-life mural painting, sand sculpture, wood carving, and pottery throwing in addition to the “Recycle Bicycles” display, sidewalk chalk drawing, and other creative and interactive art projects.

For Easter, the Festival will offer the “Sunday Eggs + Champagne in the Garden Brunch Menu ‘till Noon,” which begins at 10 a.m. April 5 with an accompanying performance by acoustic vocalist Dawn Bishop.

Indian Wells Arts Festival, April 3-5, Indian Wells Tennis Garden, 78200 Miles Ave., Indian Wells, 760-200-8400;


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