StudentWorks a multi-media odyssey by Cowichan artists

Photographer Paige Amon is among a dozen pupils unveiling work during January
Photographer Paige Amon is among a dozen pupils unveiling work during January's StudentWorks exhibit at PORTALS, hosted by CVAC.
— image credit: Peter W. Rusland

Lasting love. Vulnerability. Versatility. Insecurity. The world map. Fantasy.

Those weighty themes fueled six of a dozen personal journeys by young artists in this year’s StudentWorks project.

Multi-media findings landed in PORTALS gallery show, hosted by the Cowichan Valley Arts Council, between Jan. 6 and 25.

The exhibit under CVAC’s Youth Outreach Program — funded partly by the TD Bank — ends months of mentoring, workshops, philosophical forays, and brainstorming between young and professional artists.

YOP gets full marks from pupils flexing creative muscles, and hefting constructive criticism.

“It’s definitely motivated my photography,” said Paige Amon, a Grade 11 Cowichan Secondary shooter.

Her Pentax SLR’s black-and-white film prints reveal views of vulnerability involving a male model.

“Coming up with something to show gets me motivated; I wouldn’t even be doing this work if not for the YOP program.”

In its third year, hopes from YOP prime students’ portfolios for art-school applications and jobs, noted coordinator Wendy Robison.

“I’m only 16,” added Amon, “and lots of kids don’t get this chance. I like being in a group of artists, and getting inspiration from them.”

Inspiration coaxed Grade 11 poet Jacqueline Groicher to probe her insecurity hidden in her darker verses.

“I don’t tend to write happy poems. Lots of it has to do with fear and things people tend not to think about.”

Such as the meaning of death.

“It’s how you might be afraid of what you think of when thinking of death,” said Groicher, who’s showing drawings too.

StudentWorks stoked her confidence to uncloak feelings in art.

“I felt people would be scared of me,” she admitted of existential thoughts understood by her peers.

“I like being around others with the same artistic intention.”

Intentions like those in fantasy worlds of charcoal artist/painter Georrence Atsma.

Through YOP, the Duncan Christian School student learned to depict the quality, not quantity, of creatures and heroes in his dragon’s den.

“It helped me slow down, and put more effort into what I’m creating.”

Selling work is a sideshow to fibre artist Maggie Clayton.

The Grade 10 pupil pocketed shyness by sharing her ideas with YOP students — while making a mixed-material jacket for StudentWorks.

“I don’t normally work well in groups so this has been good. Everyone’s on the same page,” said the textile addict who loves material versatility.

“You’re creating something useful that you can use.”

Painter Shane Batten, of regent Christian Online Academy, used a global palette for his pieces.

Art feeds his wanderlust. “It inspires me to travel more.”

Grade 11 songwriter Hannah Morten charts a musical world that produced her tune and video Love Lasts.

She found common ground with YOP artists, including those involved last year.

“Youths in my community are working to make their art better, and to grow.

“It was a cool experience in a gallery setting, where there’s a standard.”

Other StudentWorks artists include Queen Margaret’s Flamenco dancer and painter Fernanda Ramirez; CSS landscape-portraiture painter Adrienne Saari; portrait installationist Kelsea Moore; Frances Kelsey School mixed-media portraitist Emma Cannell; human-figure lensman Ben Ingham; and Island Oak’s Lahna Lampson, mounting a short dialogue play.


Your ticket

What: StudentWorks

When: Jan. 6 to 25. Opening Jan. 6, 4 to 6 p.m. Hours: weekdays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Where: PORTALS, Island Savings Centre. Call 250-746-1633.

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