New exhibit at Grace Campbell Gallery features work of 15-year-old Carlton student

Submitted Photo Kayla Cockle poses with her work at the Grace Campbell Gallery.

The youngest member of the Carlton Collection Builders for Social Justice Program helps to raise awareness about mental illness with her new exhibit at the Grace Campbell Art Gallery in the John M. Cuelenaere Public Library.

Emotions features the work of 15-year-old Kayla Cockle, a self-taught artist who has been creating art ever since she could pick up a pen. Cockle works in both realistic and abstract art and was amazed to have her art on display at the gallery.

“I have always liked drawing animals, so I have just gone from there, and then I switched and I started using pastels,” she explained. “Then I came to do pastel and pencil crayons. It has created a lot more depth.”

Emotions portrays the fight with mental illness, the emotions fought, and the road to recovery within.

Cockle works mainly with acrylic and coloured pencils. She aims to show the world her creative side, while raising awareness of mental illness and sharing her story.

As the youngest member of Carlton Collection Builders, she has seen her work flourish.

“This has been my first full collection, so it has kind of helped me build up (my portfolio) because now I have a second collection that nobody really knows about,” Cockle said.

She added that the program was a great asset for the school and the artists who are in the group.

Carlton Comprehensive art teacher and mentor Melanie Merasty is also impressed by her growth in the program, and with Cockle’s work.

“She has been amazing,” Merasty said. “She has been our youngest Carlton Collection Builder. She is actually only in Grade 9, which is pretty incredible…. In addition to doing abstract art, which is the series at the library, she is also an amazing realist artist.”

“Her abilities are truly inspiring,” Merasty added.

A sample of her work.

Cockle said the program was a great asset for the school, and for the artists who are in the group.

The realistic side of her art comes from her work taking pictures of cats or dogs and making photorealistic commissions.

“Mostly people’s animals but if I want to do one and I don’t have a commission I will usually find one on Pinterest and I will draw it that way but mostly it is from commissions that I get,” Cockle said.

She has done too many commissions to count at this point and they are done using photos of the animals in question.

“Usually if someone sends me a digital photo and I will go from there,” Cockle said.

The two sides of her art feed separate parts of her creativity.

“It probably is more of a separate piece because for the non-realistic part I kind of feed my emotions into them,” she explained. “For the realistic I kind of give my emotions to other people if that makes any sense.”

Visitors can view the Emotions exhibit at the Grace Campbell Gallery from July 6 to Aug. 31.