Desert Vista Elementary School

Artist-in-residence program teaches Apache Junction students how to make shadow puppets 


Second grade students in Ginger Bailey’s class and third graders in Mike Brown’s classroom at Desert Vista Elementary School, 3701 E. Broadway Ave. in Apache Junction, worked with professional artist Mary Stokrocki to create shadow puppets as part of the Leland Wilson School Art Project: Artist in Residence program.  

The educational outreach program is a core part of the Gold Canyon Arts Council’s mission to provide free art programs into the classroom. Professional artists, such as Stokrocki who is an acrylic painter, volunteer their time to help students learn about art and create their own pieces. She is assisted by Kathy Mitchell, also a professional artist, who helps coordinate the program for the GCAC.  

The shadow puppets are cutout shapes that are held between a source of light and a translucent screen. The shadow is used to simulate movement and is an ancient form of storytelling in many cultures such as Southeast Asia, China, India, Nepal, Turkey, Greece and France. Skilled shadow puppeteers can appear to have their puppets figures walk, dance, fight, nod and laugh. 

Working with professional artists through the Leland Wilson School Art Project is a wonderful opportunity for our students to learn and create,” said Pat Smith, principal of DVES. “In addition to creating art and working cooperatively with one another, students learn about movement, light, color, balance and even social studies. It is also a wonderful shared community experience. We are very appreciative of the Artist in Residence program and the volunteers who donate their time and skill to help our students.” 

The second artist in residence, KimmBerly Loane, a ceramic artist and member of the Artists of the Superstitions, will work with the students at Cactus Canyon Junior high and their art teacher, Allison Bauman, during the week of Dec. 3-6. The outreach program also includes musical programs, master classes and workshops. 

Desert Vista is a "Be Kind" school where each day students and staff practice the 10 tenets that make a difference in the lives of others. Each day DVES students share how they actively demonstrate their kindness to others by being respectful, being compassionate, or simply by being a friend.  

For more information about Apache Junction Unified School District schools, call 480-982-1110 or go to 

Editor's note: Sally Marks is AJUSD's public information officer.