Juried high school art show at Mann provides window to teen artists’ lives
There are always a variety of styles, techniques and topics depicted at the annual Mann Art Gallery Juried High School Art Show, and this year’s edition is no different.
The seventh annual show opened at a reception Friday night. Featuring 70 works pulled from a total of seven Prince Albert high schools, this year’s show provides a window into the teen artists’ minds.
“We’ve got students working incredibly hard to further their artistic practice. We’ve got some great concepts,” said gallery educator Lana Wilson, who curated and juried this year’s show.
“The students are challenging themselves to express themselves, they’re learning new techniques and they’re definitely taking artistic risks with some of those techniques. It’s always that balance between concept, composition, expressing yourself creatively and then having the technical skills to be able to do that.”
As it is a juried show, not every work submitted was included. Space limitations prevent every work submitted by high school students from being included in the show. As well, each artist was limited to one piece going on display. But Wilson is happy with each piece chosen, each standing alone for its own interpretation and artistic merits.
At least one school decided to jury its own work. Wesmor School only submitted nine artworks to the 2018 show, after the school included its students in its own highly selective jury process. All the works were set out on tables. According to Wilson, there were dozens of tables, each with dozens of works set out.
Students came through — first the Grade 9s, then the Grade 10s, and then 11s and 12s — and took out the work they didn’t think made the cut.
That left nine pieces for the Mann Art Gallery show.
One of those nine, a parasol painted by Lakota McKenzie, won the creative innovation award at the show.
The parasol is just one of many creative media used by students in the 2018 show. Others include pencil crayon on wood block, photography, clay, linocut printmaking, mixed media and a pair of masks created using cardboard and plaster-oaked gauze bandages.
“We have a huge variety,” Wilson said.
“Facility with all these different media is going to make sure that as these students progress in their artistic endeavours, they will have those technical skills to be able to achieve their vision with whatever material they can find.”
Another interesting facet of the show is the variety of subject matter. While each piece is unique, several painted portraits, while others focused on emotion, and even more depicted sets of eyes.
“There are so many faces, and so many women’s faces in particular,” Wilson said.
‘Some of these are self portraits, some of these are fantasy people, or imagined representations of ourselves, people form our lives, the Internet, from favourite books or video games. But there are so many faces, and the vast majority are women’s faces. We have a huge front wall of very dramatic faces when you come into the gallery, and all these walls of eyes watching you and looking back. Hat’s one of the things that stood out to me this year.”
Those faces and those eyes are interesting ways to show the variety of emotions. Some show love, and others fear, confusion, or darkness.
“One of the thing every year about the show is just how much dynamic impact and how much emotion is coming through with these works,” Wilson said.
“Often it’s a tumultuous time going through high school. We are experiencing a huge variety of things for the first time. We’re experiencing what it means to be a young adult. We’re experimenting with different things, trying to find our place in the world, and we want to express it through our art.
“There is some confusion, pain, hurt and love definitely coming through in these works.”
Those emotions were one of the ways Wilson worked to curate the show. She grouped some pieces by mood, and others by subject matter. Still others were put together based on technique, as several of the included assignments came out of particular projects or themes put forward by teachers.
But even if a piece is inspired by a certain artist or artistic style, there is still an open lane for students to do their own thing.
‘What degree is your art being defined by the assignment your teacher has given you, or to what degree are you really challenging the parameters of the assignment so your originality is coming through?” Wilson asked, rhetorically.
Wilson thanked her coworkers with help putting the show together. It takes a team effort, she said, involving the other gallery staff, to put on a show like this.
She thanked the input of Rhanda Hopkins, Emma Anderson and the “curatorial mentorship” from Jesse Campbell for helping with the show.
But mostly, she thanked the students, and their parents and teachers, for putting themselves out there. “It takes an incredible vulnerability, a lot more than the average person will realize, to put your art on display in such a public forum,” she said.
“it does say so much about ourselves. We’re often taught from a young age what to value in art, and if we’re trying to push those boundaries, or work on those technical skills, it can feel really vulnerable to put your work out there like that.”
The juried high school art show runs until May 23.
Art show winners:
Best In Show – Ailah Carpenter, Carlton Comprehensive High School, Grade 12, for Disorientation, mixed media on paper
Artistic Achievement Ava Sewap, Canadian Revival Preparatory School, Grade 10, for Rhythm of Colour, acrylic on canvas
Creative Innovation – Lakota MaKenzie, Wesmor Public High School, Grade 10, for Springtime, acrylic on parasol.
Juicy Colour – Heidi Lundell, Carlton Comprehensive High School, Grande 10, for Surprise Shell, coloured pencil on wood
Creative Clay – Hayley Loggins, Carlton Comprehensive High School, Grade 11, for Eternal Struggle, clay
Juror’s Choice – Kyla Mangaser, École St. Mary High School for Blushing Petals, acrylic on canvas.