There was a tie for Best in Show at the High School Juried Art Show, which held their awards ceremony on Thursday evening.
Brennan Cantin, a Grade 11 student from École St. Mary was recognized for his “Burning House,” painting and Tia-Lee McCallum, a Grade 12 student from PACI was recognized for her “Corruption,” drawing, which was her second consecutive victory.
Cantin said he was surprised to win the award this year. His inspiration came from painting something that he was interested in.
“It’s the dry season here and you see a lot of smoke,” he explained. “I like looking at it because it’s cool, and I thought it would be fun to paint so I pained it.”
Cantin was the winner of the Juror’s Choice last year and said his artistic choices come from a simple place.
“Most of the time I just paint stuff for self-indulgence,” he said. “I just do it.”
McCallum was surprised to win Best in Show for a second consecutive year. She also won the Juror’s Choice Award in 2019 when she was in Grade 10.
“My teachers were more surprised than I was,” McCallum said. “At first I didn’t expect it because I heard I won an award … and then when I heard I won best in show in a tie I was very surprised. I also became more interested in meeting the other person who got the tie.”
McCallum said winning back to back was unexpected. The idea for her drawing came to her when she was walking back from work one day. She was inspired by the 215 movement after the first 215 residential school student graves were rediscovered in British Columbia.
McCallum said the idea started as a rough draft that hung on her wall. She had no plans to enter it into a competition, but changed her mind and started expanding on it.
“There was another idea I was going to do actually, but that got scrapped,” she explained. “I thought, ‘the art show is in three days,’ so I did that piece within three days, got ready for the art show and the rest is history.
“I always had a feeling that idea was going to be used someday,” she added. “I just kept it on my wall just in case.”
Show curator Lana Wilson narrowed the 77 works of art submitted online to 51 for the show.
“In terms of arranging the show and choosing the final award winners some stuff struck me right away,” she explained. “It’s always hard because there are so many different types of criteria you can judge on. There are a lot of people who will ask what we are looking for and it’s so subjective.”
Wilson said she knows what pieces she’ll use once she sees them.
“I’m looking for things like artistic risk taking. That’s a word that we will use. Is the student pushing themselves to explore the theme with an emotional component or are they challenging themselves to use their media in a new technique or in a technically difficult way? We call that artistic risk taking,” Wilson said.
For example, Wilson asks herself if the work emotionally or aesthetically resonates or spark something in her.
“That’s the hardest thing,” she said. “There is no way to predict that.”
Wilson said it was difficult to curate the show in terms of arranging the art.
“A lot of people don’t really think of that as the curator’s job but it is and it is difficult,
Wilson said she arranged the work in a way that tells a story in order to make an exhibition that is greater than the sum of its parts.
She grouped the Van Gogh inspired pieces together and that became part of a landscape theme. There is also a linear portion and those themes lead into other themes on the far wall.
“I really am thankful to Jesse Campbell my previous director curator and to Marcus (Miller) and Tia Furstenberg is a fantastic curator herself,” Wilson said. “They were able to reassure me I was making some nice arranging choices.”
Cantin submitted two pieces and they equally weighed in Wilson’s decision making process.
“Even though I gave Brennan the award for the burning house, I decided that in my mind it was for both of them just to recognize his accomplishment because these are absolutely incredible,” Wilson said.
Wilson added that both the winning works emotionally moved her with a similar uneasy horror.
“Art doesn’t have to be pretty,” she explained. “Art is about communicating and having the work of the artist touch the viewer in some way. Both of these works just touched my heart with ideas of anxiety and fear and I found them so moving.
“They really do stand out for their technical competence,”
Wilson said McCallum’s piece shows the emotional trauma in the work through the shading. With Cantin’s work, she noted his artistic decisions and use of under painting and layering and creation of translucent smoke.
Art Show Award Winners
The Creative Exploration Award (any medium), sponsored by Lemon Yellow Art Studio was presented to Evan DeBack, a Grade 12 student from École St. Mary, for his “Ligaments of the Joints,” drawing. The Juicy Colour Award was presented to Zoe Kerr, a Grade 11 student from Carlton Comprehensive for the “Blinding Lights” drawing. The Creative Clay Award was presented to Aeron Arpia, a Grade 9 Carlton Comprehensive, for the “John” Mug ceramic. The Artistic Innovation Award was presented to Quinn Smith-Windsor, a Grade 12 Carlton Comprehensive, Gr. 12 for the “Merida”, painting.
The Juror’s Choice Award, sponsored by the John V. Hicks Fund was presented to Milla Merasty, a Grade 11 student from Carlton Comprehensive, for “The Boy in the Mask,” drawing. The Emerging Artist Award (any medium), sponsored by Lemon Yellow Art Studio, which is presented to a Grade 9 to 11 artist who shows artistic promise was presented to Rachel Lao, a Grade 9 Flex Ed School student for “The Chase” painting.