Thursday, 21 May 2015 09:31

Exhibition a showcase for high-school art students

Written by  Matthew Liebenberg
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The current exhibition at the West Wing Gallery in Swift Current provides an opportunity for high-school students from across the Chinook School Division to display their creative talents.


Students, their teachers and family members attended a public reception for the annual School Art Show at the gallery in Kinetic Park, May 13.
There are close to 200 individual artworks in the exhibition from students participating in visual art programs at the Cyber School, Ponteix School and Swift Current Comprehensive High School (SCCHS).
Kim Houghtaling, Art Gallery of Swift Current director and curator,  said the gallery has been hosting the exhibition for about 30 years.
“It’s a great learning experience and a real development opportunity for the students,” he observed.
“Showing art finishes the project. You make the art, but it’s not really complete until an audience see it. To be able to put it in a real gallery space and have a great audience like tonight come and see it — that really fulfils what art is all about.”
He visits participating schools to select works of art for the exhibition. He was impressed with the standard of the work presented to him for this year’s show.
“I went through the groupings again and again because they were just consistently very good,” he said about the work of SCCHS students.
“It was a broad cross section. There are drawings and paintings and quite a variety of things.”
The high standard of work from students who participate through distance learning in the Cyber School’s art program continues to be a surprise.
“I was very curious how this might work where art teachers work with kids long distance on computer and how do the results come through, but every year for several years that Cyber School has been involved the work has been always really strong,” he said. “The Cyber program has really proven to be a good thing because the same students wouldn't have access to it necessary in their own schools.”
According to Houghtaling the artwork submissions from Ponteix School are always very inventive.
“Their art teacher works with the kids,” he said.
“They take on a challenge all together ... and it’s always really exciting stuff. There might be nine or 10 kids in that program and they’re all just really strong, really engaged.”
SCCHS Grade 12 student Payton Green has two works on display. She said it is important to participate in the exhibition.
“Since Grade 9, I’ve had one or two pieces and this year again I have two pieces that I’m actually very proud of,” she mentioned. “It shows me that I can do art. It’s not just that it’s in my head or something, that other people enjoy it as well.”
She used acrylic paint and each work is an artistic representation of a tree.
“I’ve always felt very connected to trees because I’m into cultures,” she said. “In a lot of cultures, they use trees as the connecting thing in wisdom and grounding, and I really like that metaphor.”
A variety of items are attached to tree branches in the one painting, including a horseshoe, an animal paw and the earth.
“They’re just all metaphors of deeper meanings for me,” Green said.
The other art piece depicts a tree putting out roots and struggling to grow on a bare rock in a barren landscape.
“This project was to show our experience through high school and for me the roots is showing the struggle of finding myself through it and the desert of how harsh it was and how lone I felt, but I still persevered and I started to grow as a person,” she said.
The artworks of 59 SCCHS students from Grade 9 to 12 are presented in the exhibition.
“This is the first year that they included Grade 9, which is really nice, because it starts them off on the road of thinking maybe I’m good at this and maybe I could do this,” SCCHS visual arts teacher Constance More said.
She thanked the Art Gallery of Swift Current for hosting the exhibition every year because it is really important for the students.
“Their musician friends and their drama friends get to stand on a stage and get immediate applause,” she said. “The art kids sit quietly in the art room or at home inside their own heads, working away on their art work. I can look at it and go ‘wow, that’s absolutely beautiful, that’s fabulous’ and they know it is but to bring it out into the public and have people go ‘you know something, that’s really nice’ is a real confidence builder for them.”
Cyber School photography teacher Jody Seidler felt proud of her students for producing high-quality work this year.
“Fabulous this year, really, really hard to pick,” she mentioned. “Kim said the same because I do the first pick and I send him a bunch. Then he picks from those and he said really, really good stuff to pick from this year.”
One student created images through high dynamic range (HDR) photography and another took long exposure photographs.
“She is out at night with her camera set for a 20-second exposure of cars going by,” Seidler said. “So she gets the light trails and things like that. … It’s fun and they get the freedom to do what interest them by the Grade 12 level.”
The interest in the Cyber School’s photography program is growing every year.
“It looks like next year could be as high as double this year,” she said. “So we're buying more cameras. Part of it is just the knowledge that it is there to take.”
Ponteix School art teacher Jo-Ann Sadden said there are works from nine students in the exhibition.
“Our school doesn’t offer visual art every year,” she noted. “It depends on student interest, but when we can we try to participate.”
She is very pleased with the art pieces created by her students for this year’s exhibition, which includes a number of mixed media artworks. It is important for her students to participate in this show.
“It’s nice to see your work up on the wall and on display,” she said. “It gives a sense of pride and then you also get a chance to walk around and get ideas and see what other people are doing. To me the most amazing part is that you were creative but you can see what everybody else was doing when they were doing their creative process as well.”
The high-school art show at the West Wing Gallery will be on until June 21. The gallery is open from 1-5 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday as well as on holiday Mondays.

Read 2483 times Last modified on Thursday, 21 May 2015 12:11

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