Gallery impressed with quality, variety of high school juried art show

Some of the works submitted to the 2019 Mann Art Gallery High School juried art show. (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

The Mann Art Gallery is showcasing even more high school art during this year’s iteration of the annual High School Juried Art Show and Sale.

It’s not that the gallery selected more pieces. Rather, more schools from outside Prince Albert and home-schooled students were invited to participate.

“In the past, we primarily used high schools in Prince Albert. We’ve opened it up to all different types of schools throughout Saskatchewan,” said acting gallery educator Arron Naytowhow, who curated the show.

“It’s pretty exciting this year, we widened the net.”

As in previous years, there were no restrictions to the medium of subject matter, leaving the students to submit what they think is best. The result is a wide variety of pieces.

“This year I’ve noticed in (the pieces) and with conversations with the young artists themselves, a few of the common themes being expressed this year are themes surrounding identity, surrounding politics, surrounding gender identity and also faith,” Naytowhow said.

“I was tempted to divide the show by medium, but I decided to go by the themes being presented. Let’s go by the emotions the collective pieces are provoking. We have some very bright minds and some very active minds, and a lot of young people with a lot to say.”

Naytowhow said he was surprised by some of the artistic choices the students made. He said some explored surrealism, others sculpture, and other precise, almost lifelike sketching. He was also impressed with the number of linocut prints entered this year.

‘The skill level of some of these young minds is mind-blowing,” he said.

“I think (people) may be surprised to see the depth of feeling and knowledge these kids actually do possess. They’re going to be surprised by the subject matter because they’re covering a lot of themes, ideas and struggles such as suicide, eating disorders and mental illness. They’re finding ways to voice it, and they’re using art as a tool to express themselves.”

Naytowhow said the students show a lot of potential. Some showed him other pieces they have created too.

“Some of them deserve their own show,” he said.

He’s pleased that so many students are using art as a way to deal with what’s going on in their lives.

“That’s what we’re here for, to provide a safe place for these kids to channel everything they’re going through and turn those struggles into something beautiful,” he said.

“Everybody can connect and relate to what these kids are going through, no matter where you’re coming from, and how old you are, chances are everybody has been through one of these things at one point or another.”

The High School Juried Art Show kicks off tonight with the opening reception, introducing gallery patrons to the art and the artists and presenting awards to the winning students.

“I can guarantee this year that there will be several purchases being made,” Naytowhow said.

“I’m excited for these kids. Not only are they going to be receiving awards for some of their efforts but they’re going to be sold and hanging and all types of businesses in other people’s homes. It’s great exposure for these young people.”

Dreaver exhibition also opening tonight

Also opening tonight is Audrey Dreaver’s solo exhibition, NO, I do not speak Cree, in the main gallery. That show, featuring a collection of images from Plains Cree artist Audrey Dreaver, who grew up in Prince Albert and whose family comes from Mistawasis and Ahtahkakoop. The exhibition explores how her family came to lose their language, and what that means for her cultural identity as a Cree woman.

For more on the Dreaver exhibition, please see Saturday’s Daily Herald.