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Thursday, 25 May 2017 05:19

Student artists showcase their talent at school art show

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A large variety of artworks by students from across southwest Saskatchewan are currently on display in an exhibition in Swift Current.

Students, their teachers and family members attended a public reception for the 2017 School Art Show at the West Wing Gallery, May 9.
This annual exhibition represents artworks by students participating in visual art programs at schools within the Chinook School Division. There are more than 200 art pieces in this show by students from the Cyber School, Gull Lake School, Swift Current Comprehensive High School (SCCHS) as well as a number of home-schooled students.
The show is organized by the Art Gallery of Swift Current (AGSC) with support from participating schools and the City of Swift Current.
“This show is really enjoyable to do,” AGSC Director and Curator Kim Houghtaling said. “You get to work with all these different personalities and abilities and think about these new artists that are just coming into this language and starting to make things and think about it. So even though it’s an annual project for us, it is a first-time opportunity for so many of these art students and we like that about it.”
He noted art exhibitions are necessary for all artists to complete their artistic expressions and to celebrate their accomplishments.
“If they don’t have an audience that gets to view what they’re trying to say and what they’ve done, then the work is really not finished, not resolved,” he said. “So for these art students to have that feeling that people are looking and thinking about what they had to say, is really valuable. So I’m really glad to do this show each year.”
He looked at a large number of art pieces before selecting the works on display in the exhibition. The public reception was an opportunity for everyone to have a look at the show.
“The families will come in and the first thing is to look and find their work and beam a little bit and be proud and take a photograph and then move on and talk about everybody else’s,” he said. “So I think it’s a great process.”
The reception also provided him with the opportunity to speak to some of the students who were there.
“It’s always a really interesting opportunity, because then I get to actually see the personality that made the artwork and that’s really rewarding,” he said.
The art piece by SCCHS Grade 11 student Hayley Bitz is a painting of the well-known artist Andy Warhol.
“He was a really big influence in pop culture,” she said. “I just thought it would be good to represent him the way he did some of his own work — this multi-tone, simplified version of himself.”
She enjoys the art program because it is less structured than many other subjects and there is more room to explore alternatives.
“There’s not a right or wrong answer,” she said. “Your lines don’t have to be straight. Even your mistakes are not wrong. It just flows.”
It means a lot to her to have her art on display in this exhibition, where it is displayed with the works of others who share her interest in art.
“I feel like art doesn’t get recognized as much as the other academic classes,” she said. “So it’s good that everyone comes here and appreciates art.”
For SCCHS Grade 10 student Sarah Hilts, it is a good experience to have her art in the exhibition.
“It’s definitely a little bit nerving since people are seeing it and talking about it with their own opinions and looking at it with their own eyes, but I very much enjoy having the opinions of others and seeing other people look at it,” she said.
She made a graphite drawing of a person’s hand resting on a hip for an assignment on realism.
“I have a very difficult time doing hands,” she explained. “I thought this is a really good challenge for me to start working on hands and gain the feel of it. So when I was doing this, I put many hours into the details of the joints and the fingers and the body.”
She decided to take art classes because of her interest in animation as a possible career.
“I’ve always had that dream of being an artist and having that experience, even though my family or my friends tell me that seem to be a little tough to be in that kind of institution or job,” she said. “I still love my other school subjects, but art has always taken my heart.”
SCCHS Grade 11 student Jemmie Ponting is participating for a third time in this exhibition. He enjoys sharing his art with others.
“I’m sharing my mind through images of beauty and I think that’s a very interesting thing, because out of all the people in Swift Current I get to project my own mind without speaking, without moving,” he said. “I just put whatever is on my mind in one image and send that off and then people get to see it, and I find it very nice and actually kind of cool.”
His two artworks interpret the theme of religion and spirituality. He noted each piece of art can have a different meaning for different viewers.
“That’s a thing about art,” he said. “People have different perspectives on different types of beauty, whether it’s bad or good. It’s more to themselves rather than to the artists itself.”
Reece Digney, who teaches art to grades 6-12 students at Gull Lake School, attended the public reception. He believes it is important for his students to participate in the exhibition.
“It gives them an opportunity to make it more of a public display,” he said. “They’re doing it for the art more so now than just the mark. … The students who I have all entered to this were the ones who took the initiative and created individual pieces of artwork just for this show, not for any of my classes, not for anything else, just for this show.”
He feels art classes provide a useful way for students to express themselves in a meaningful way.
“A lot of students I found today aren’t always able to express what they’re thinking or feeling,” he said. “A lot of their subconscious is coming through that they might not get out in just a conversation. It’s a very good visual representation of that.”
The School Art Show at the West Wing Gallery takes place until June 11. The gallery is located at Kinetic Exhibition Park in the Airmen’s Billet building.
Admission is free and gallery hours are 1-5 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday as well as on holiday Mondays.

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Matthew Liebenberg