Arts & Life
Canstar Community News
Art work being made by junior high and high school students during the pandemic is showing their resiliency and anxiety, all at the same time.
Xavier Lavergne is a Grade 8 student at Viscount Alexander School, who is taking part in Home Work, an online exhibition of art created by students in grades 5 to 12 in the Pembina Trails School Division, which will go live on June 8 on the division’s website.
He submitted Serenity, a portrait done in coloured pencil that shows a smiling girl surrounded by butterflies.
"I started with the colour blue because I made it during this time, and I needed to find some serenity and relaxation," Lavergne said. "I incorporated the butterflies because they represent endurance, change and hope."
Lavergne has been making art at home since his school was closed in March, and said he loves working with acrylic paints.
Allison Moore is a visual arts consultant with the school division, and also an art teacher at South Pointe School. She came up with the idea for the virtual art gallery after realizing the division’s annual art show at The Forks wouldn’t be happening this year.
"Every year, for 17 years, we’ve had this show. We usually have around a thousand pieces of 2D and 3D art at that show," Moore said. "After we had to cancel, I started thinking about how we could showcase art by our students."
Moore worked with division staff to send invitations to art teachers at the 15 division schools and their students, setting a deadline of May 28 for submissions. As of May 18, they’d received 165 submissions, with the promise of many more.
The art is being made at home as schools are shut due to the pandemic. Students can continue working on a piece they started in school as part of their art classes, or they can share something they made at home, Moore said.
"We’re seeing different mediums, video stills, drawings, sculptures, paintings, photographs," she said, adding that each piece has a bio of the artist and a statement about inspirations for their art.
Fort Richmond Collegiate Grade 12 student Reilly Cranney submitted a number of pieces to the virtual show, including her favourite, The Forgotten Connection of the Expendable Newfie.
This is a project she started in art class in school, which she based on the words of Filipino multi-media artist Stephanie Syjuco, who is now based in the US.
"She does art based on her culture, so for my art piece, I thought about my cultural background. My mom is from Newfoundland and my dad is Dutch from Amsterdam," Cranney said. "I learned about the tradition of mummery, in which people dressed up in the weirdest clothes possible and went door-to-door at Christmas time."
That tradition died out when the fisheries were closed, new people moved to Newfoundland and found mummers to be scary, and got the government to ban the practice, she said. "They revived it in the 1980s and 1990s."
Following a tried-and-true Winnipeg tradition, Cranney went shopping at thrift stores for the parts of the costume, including a yellow blanket with a fringe to make the pants. She learned how to fold origami fish and connected them to a fishing net. After that, she convinced her friend Jaiden Hutchinson to don the costume and pose for photos.
During the school shut-down, she’s been using art as a way to pass the time, finding it to be calming. She’s working on a springtime painting for her mother, showing cherry blossoms.
The Pembina Trails division has been posting images of artworks by the students to its social media feeds, leading up to the Home Work show, which will launch on June 8 at www.pembinatrails.ca
Susie Strachan is the community journalist for The Sou'wester. Call her at 204-697-7150 or 204-583-4718 or email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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