Grade 12 student Bella had to scramble to get a second painting done in time for the Whistler Secondary School Art Show—but it was worth the rush.
"I just finished it yesterday," she says on the day the group of students and their teacher, Brenda Norrie, are set to install the annual show at The Gallery at the Maury Young Arts Centre (Whistler Secondary School is not releasing the surnames of the students involved in the art show).
"[It's] the biggest piece I've done and the most portraits I've had in one piece," she says. "It's a whole bunch of women's faces—all ethnicities—then behind the portraits are cut outs of different articles on current events [involving] women ... I was coming up with an idea and I realized I'd never painted more diverse women. I've only ever painted other white women. I found a reference picture of a woman in a hijab and that inspired me."
Bella is just one of 30 WSS art students taking part in this year's Whistler Secondary School Art Show, running until Jan. 21.
It's a chance for the students to demonstrate techniques and skills they've honed, learn more about curating and installing an art show, and show off their pieces to the public.
"During class the students will 'curate' the show," says Norrie. "They figure out what pieces will go where—I guide them, but I show them how the gallery is laid out and they decide what pieces will go where. We talk about what the anchor pieces are and how to do collections."
They also mark opening night with a reception filled with friends, family and sometimes the public too.
This is the second year Bella has taken part—although she's been in art classes since Grade 8.
"It was new for me. I had never had a piece displayed before like that. It was really, really exciting, but also very nerve wracking. I was there when the show was going on. I could see all the people standing in front of my piece and looking at it," she says.
Does she feel any more relaxed going into her second show—this time with two paintings?
"I kind of feel I'm in the same position," she says. "I've gotten through it once already, so I know what to expect, but I still have that giddy feeling ... It's really fun and satisfying once you're finished everything, but obviously the process can be kind of stressful. In the end, it's always really satisfying and really fun."
The other painting she is displaying—which, like many of the students, she has priced and potentially will sell—is a blue-coloured close-up of a face with freckles that are constellations.
"It's like a boy is lovesick or has lost a love and can't sleep, so he's looking up at the sky and he can see her face," she explains. "I don't know if I want to let that one go or not—I get quite attached to my paintings."
Whether they sell pieces or not, the real-world art experience is invaluable to the class, Norrie says.
"It's a huge opportunity for the kids," she says. "It's always very exciting. That's why I do it. It is a lot of work every year."
Catch the WSS Art Show on display at The Gallery at the Maury Young Arts Centre until Jan. 21.