The Mann Art Gallery is going with a new hybrid model for the 10th annual High School Juried Art Show when the exhibition launches this April.
The annual show was held like any other exhibition up until last year when COVID-19 hit. As one of the first new exhibitions planned after the pandemic came to the province, the gallery was forced to think on its feet, and ended up hosting the entire show online.
They didn’t have much of a choice. Under the provincial Reopen Saskatchewan Plan, galleries were closed and not allowed to open until Phase 4.
It’s been a year since then and the Mann has been allowed to open its doors, hosting a virtual opening reception to go with its annual Winter Festival Show and Sale, which is currently hanging on the gallery walls.
Unlike last year, though, where the works from that show got locked down with the gallery itself, in a month’s time they’ll come down to make way for art from some of the most talented young artists in the city.
“We really want the work in the gallery itself,” explained educator Lana Wilson.
So it will be — or most of it anyway. Artists will have the option to submit a piece for inclusion or a digital photo of a piece, as the show will also include an online component.
“There were a lot of advantages last year to having the show entirely virtual. Online projects have the ability to reach people across the country and around the world. Friends, relatives and patrons outside our immediate community were allowed to enjoy and celebrate the work that students had done. That’s why we decided we would try to capitalize on the best of both worlds with the hybrid format this year.”
The hybrid show also allows students who may not have physical access to their best piece to include it anyway.
“We know there are some students that are very proud of a piece they’ve done in the past year but they’ve given it away or it’s one that has been submitted to the school district art exhibition, which is also occurring around this time,” Wilson said.
“We want a chance for the students to be able to participate if they are not able to bring their work physically to the gallery.”
Wilson gave a lot of credit to Danielle Castle, who, as acting educator last year, pulled a virtual show together with little notice. It was one of the first virtual shows the gallery had ever done, and certainly the first of that scale.
“Last year was really unusual for a lot of reasons. The virtual exhibition was one of the first projects we did after the onset of the COVID pandemic that really rearranged our entire exhibition schedule, but we did learn a lot,” Wilson said.
Those lessons, along with what other galleries have done since, will inform the digital side of this year’s show, Wilson said.
She explained why the physical element — actually hanging the works in the gallery — is so important.
“It’s really beneficial for the youth artists to be able to see their work being presented in a professional space,” she said.
“We feel it’s a really good way to welcome people into the Mann Art Gallery who might not have had a chance to visit us before or might not have felt they had a reason to visit us. We really want to highlight the work the students have done and give them that experience and help them experience that pride of having their works on the walls of a professional public art gallery.”