A public art project at Vernon Secondary School has received a major infusion of cash from the federal government.
The school, in collaboration with its resident artist and alumna Amanda Shatzko, received a grant of $48,150 from Heritage Canada’s World War Commemorations Community Fund towards the creation of large poppy public art sculptures.
“It’s quite unusual in this day and age with the cuts to the arts and grants to receive this kind of money,” said Shatzko, an internationally renowned artist known for her aerial painting performances.
Shatzko, who also created a mural for the school last year, has been working with VSS fine art teachers Randy Kaneda and Elizabeth Allardice on the poppy project for more than a year.
“It is, of course, a remembrance for our students of Canadians who have made sacrifices at war. However, it will also be a reminder of what great things can be done when we collaborate both across curriculums and with professionals in the community for school projects,” said VSS principal Malcolm Reid.
The poppies project not only involved the school’s fine arts department, but also VSS’ social studies, media arts and Aboriginal departments.
“The project is a beautiful example of the type of learning that needs to happen more in schools as we move forward in the 21st century,” said Reid.
Five poppies, which measure about four feet in diameter and one-and-a-half feet tall, have been created, with two poppies installed so far. They can now be viewed on the school grounds at 21st Avenue, said Shatzko.
“They are made of solid concrete. They each weigh 750 pounds. We had to use a winch and crane to pull them out of the mold and used the VSS football team to carry them to their location,” she said.
“The poppies have images on them, inclusive of all cultures and nationalities that reside in Greater Vernon who have fought for our freedom. This is our way of showing respect and acknowledging that through artwork that is on display 24/7.”
In addition to the fine arts department, VSS woodshop students constructed the wood containers where the rubber for the molds was poured into.
“The media arts students are making a documentary on the project, which will be available online at the end of the month,” said Shatzko.
“Principal Malcolm Reid has been very supportive in just letting us lead the way.”
The public is invited to attend a ceremony for the newly installed artwork, Thursday at 12:45 p.m. at Vernon Secondary (located at 2100 15th St.)