What was once a typical high school hallway now has all the makings of a professional art gallery – meticulously placed displays measured to the exact inch, descriptive labels explaining the work, strategic lighting and, of course, exceptional artwork.
“This exhibit is like a professional museum exhibit because we had to rise to these expectations since we are working with the West Vancouver Museum. It was scary at first for the students to go beyond the school and to go so big, but then they became excited to push and stretch themselves,” said Bruce Emmett, instructor of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Visual Art program at Seaquam Secondary School in North Delta.
The IB art program is for Grade 11 and 12 students want to explore and expand their artistic knowledge and skills. For this year’s class, Emmett wanted to do something that would elevate student learning to a new level.
He reached out to Isaac Vanderhorst, educational coordinator with the West Vancouver Museum, and they forged a partnership through the museum’s youth architecture program. Emmett and Vanderhorst’s approach is to use architecture as a framework – as inspiration for the students’ varied artistic practices. By bringing Vanderhorst’s expertise directly to Seaquam students, the students not only learned about architectural art, but also about being a professional artist and about museum curating.
“It really opened-up my art practice. It expanded my view of art and opened possibilities,” said Grade 12 student Megan Bourassa.
Despite the theme of architecture, not one student built a model of a building.
For example, Bourassa’s work is a series of photographs that when placed under special magnifying glasses appear to be three dimensional.
At the other end of the hallway is another 3-D piece. A caricature of a monster drawn by Noah Haave, another Grade 12 student, is projected onto the wall and the reflection of it in the opposite window gives the illusion that the monster is standing in the hallway beyond the glass. Haave’s art has always focused on character creation, so when he thought of incorporating an architectural component he thought, “Why not have my characters interact with the actual building surroundings?”
Nina Wang carved an intricate stamp, made copies of it and sent it to people around the world. She asked them to take a picture of the stamp with a significant building and send the photos back to her. Wang’s display is a collection of the photos.
“I haven’t been to all of these places, but my art has,” said Wang, a Grade 12 student.
In the middle of the hallway an image of a city skyline is projected onto the wall. Upon closer investigation, the illusion of buildings is being created by precisely placed make-up and beauty products with a light shone through them. The piece expresses the materialization of women to the point where it is accepted as commonplace.
“I got to explore my art in a different way and to say my views in a stronger way. I am able to display ugly ideas in a beautiful way,” said Grade 12 artist Kathleen Kogan.
– Deneka Michaud