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ARTS JOURNAL: Best high school artwork on display

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Cathy Dobson 

Local artists Kennady Osborne and John Williams have firsthand knowledge of the impact of high school art shows.

They both grew up in Sarnia and had submissions in the annual Fast Forward art show when they attended SCITS, then went on to become professional artists.

This year, Osborne and Williams are jurors for two student shows being held almost simultaneously at the Gallery in the Grove and the Lawrence House Centre for the Arts.

Jurors Kennady Osborne and John Williams ponder students’ work at The Gallery in the Grove. Award winners will be announced Saturday. (Submitted photo)

“It’s a big deal for the students whose artwork was chosen for this show,” says Osborne, owner of Seventh Rayn Design Co. in downtown Sarnia.

Every spring for at least the past 51 years, art teachers from Sarnia-Lambton’s high schools select the best work produced by their students. They submit it to the Fast Forward Student Exhibition at Gallery in the Grove, as well as The Lambton County Student Art Show at the Lawrence House.

“This year’s show has a very high calibre,” said Osborne after judging the Grade 11 and 12 submissions with fellow juror John Williams.

Northern Collegiate art teacher Susan Van Veldhuisen at the adjudication for the Fast Forward Student Exhibition at Gallery in the Grove. (Submitted photo)

“We are seeing so many different styles of drawing and sculpture. I don’t remember there being this kind of variety when I was in the show,” she said.

“We’re seeing a lot of mixed media and photography submissions now,” agreed Williams who, like Osborne, attended Toronto’s Ontario College of Art & Design.

Having art work displayed and judged while still in high school, teaches future professional artists to understand that not everyone is going to like your work, said Williams.

“You need to learn how to accept effective criticism of your work and how to roll with the punches,” he said.

“Hope” by Amber Beggs, Grade 12, Northern Collegiate. (Submitted photo)

Helpful criticism improves your artwork, said Osborne. “These shows also help students network with other artists and build a sense of community.”

The annual high school shows are split between Gallery in the Grove in Bright’s Grove where about 45 pieces are hung, and downtown’s Lawrence House with another 150 pieces.

Fast Forward in the Grove also includes work by the gallery’s Grade 6 VAL’s students.

The Gallery in the Grove Fast Forward show opened Saturday, April 29 with a reception announcing the winners.

The High School Art Show at Lawrence House kicks off on First Friday May 5 and runs until May 25 with a closing reception at 7 p.m. It features work from students in Grades 9 – 12 from Alexander Mackenzie, LCCVI, Northern, North Lambton, St. Francis Xavier and St. Pat’s.

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