If you look closely enough, the pandemic’s impact can be seen in the art of today’s students, says Trevor Jamieson.
The Northern Collegiate teacher is one of 13 from Sarnia-Lambton high schools volunteering to select and install works for two student shows running simultaneously at the Lawrence House Centre for the Arts and Gallery in the Grove.
More than 200 pieces have been chosen to showcase the depth of young talent in the community, said Jamieson.
“The most exciting part is doing in-person shows again,” he said.
“Virtual shows filled the need and we did the best we could the past two years, but it’s so nice to be back in the galleries, working with the teachers and seeing the students’ work go up.”
Fellow Northern art teacher Susan VanVeldhuisen said the shows give students authentic venues to display their creations.
“There’s such a sense of achievement to have your work professionally hung at an art gallery,” she said.
Show visitors will be able to see how young people are feeling about themselves these days, said Jamieson.
“They’ve experienced huge social upheavals and you can see that expressed in some of it.”
Many pieces reflect the joy felt about easing restrictions and more normal activities, noted VanVeldhuisen. “Many students are using a lot more colour and levity than last year.”
A less predictable effect was that young artists in isolation spent more time experimenting in different mediums. The usual oils, acrylics and charcoals are augmented in this year’s shows with clay sculpture, glass, etching, felting, mixed media and digital works.
The High School Art Show at the Lawrence House covers every wall of the two-storey gallery, with about 175 pieces created by students in Grades 9 – 12. At the Gallery in the Grove’s Fast Forward Student Exhibition, about 60 pieces by Grade 11 and 12 students are on display.
Lambton student art shows are a spring tradition dating back at least 50 years, explained Gallery in the Grove education co-ordinator Gwen Moore.
Students submit their art and teachers pick the best for the shows. A panel of jurors choose best-in-show and the winners in various categories. This year’s jurors are Sarah Ford, Madeline Epps and Hannah Cattran.
“The work produced by our high school students blows me away. I’m just so impressed,” said Moore.
A big part of Gallery in the Grove’s mandate is supporting art education. That was on hold during the pandemic, but this winter the VALS (Visiting Artists in Lambton School) program resumed.
The gallery hired two art teachers, David Moore and Susan Perry, to teach about 30 classes of Grade 6 students. It’s about igniting an appreciation for creativity at an early age, said Moore.
A small section of the Fast Forward exhibition is reserved for VALS student art.
Gallery in the Grove also hands out three to five $1,000 art scholarships each year to students that pursue art in post-secondary studies.
IF YOU GO:
WHAT: The Lambton County High School Art Show at the Lawrence House Centre for the Arts, and the Fast Forward Student Exhibition at Gallery in the Grove.
WHEN: Both run through May, closing at the Lawrence House May 26, and at Gallery in the Grove June 4. Check websites for hours: https://lawrencehouse.ca/ and http://www.galleryinthegrove.com/contact.html.
WHERE: The Lawrence House is downtown at 127 Christina St. South. Gallery in the Grove is in Bright’s Grove at 2618 Hamilton Rd.
The Arts Journal is about Sarnia’s cultural fabric. Send your ideas to [email protected]