Community Papers

North Van art teacher holds first exhibition

Judy Frigon (pink jacket), an art teacher at St. Thomas Aquinas, was initially apprehensive about trying to exhibit her work, but the support of family (pictured), friends and her students helped her successfully showcase her paintings.       - Submitted photo
Judy Frigon (pink jacket), an art teacher at St. Thomas Aquinas, was initially apprehensive about trying to exhibit her work, but the support of family (pictured), friends and her students helped her successfully showcase her paintings.
— image credit: Submitted photo

“Nathan! Gabby! Rebecca!” Judy Frigon calls out as she does attendance in her class of Grade 12 art students at St. Thomas Aquinas high school. Ms. Frigon, as her students call her, has been teaching for more than two decades at the North Van Catholic school.

“I fell in love with art in high school,” Frigon says.

After studying commercial art in Alberta and making a living that way, Frigon moved to Washington State with her husband and found work as an art teacher. After returning to Canada, she found a place at STA and has loved it there since.

“I teach to the world’s best students, I wanna say that,” she laughs, looking around the room of about 20 kids.

Teaching drawing, painting, ceramics, fabric arts and graphic design to students in Grades 8 to 12, Frigon’s classroom is overflowing with artwork and supplies.

A large portrait of Superman, recently finished by one of her students, sits at the front of the room on display.

Frigon works hard to inspire her students and make her class fun and engaging.

“I try to do things the kids are interested in,” she says, proudly showing a set of wax candles in the shape of various sushi rolls one student made.

She’s also found inspiration from her students.

Nervous about applying for her first art exhibition, Frigon found confidence in herself by witnessing her graduating students applying to colleges and universities and risking the sting of rejection letters to pursue their dreams; that helped inspire her to take her own career to the next level and begin trying to show her paintings around the North Shore.

For years, she’s been painting water lilies.

The fascination began decades ago at her family’s campsite in Ontario, when a young Frigon went swimming in a lake by herself one night at dusk.

“I was swimming,” she says, “and I saw the first water lily I’d seen in my life.” After heading closer to investigate the flower, she was caught up in the slimy tendrils of the plants below the surface.

Instead of struggling, Frigon calmed down and untangled herself.

It was this experience that piqued her interest in the water lily and made it her muse for her current exhibit at the District of North Vancouver’s District Library Gallery.

A commercial illustrator previously, Frigon’s pieces are extraordinarily detailed and realistic.

With the immense support of friends and family, including her children who flew in to attend her exhibit’s reception, Frigon was “very scared and very happy” with the whole process. “It was a great adventure,” she says.

Part of the proceeds of her artwork sales will go towards an art scholarship at St. Thomas for Grade 12 students.

Frigon’s paintings are currently showing at the District Library Gallery at Lynn Valley Library, 1277 Lynn Valley Road, until May 21.

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