Julie Hansen says when she makes art, she is totally engrossed.
The international student at Whistler Secondary School (WSS) is one of 28 Grade 11 and 12 students whose works are going on show at the WSS end-of-semester art exhibition at The Gallery in the Maury Young Arts Centre (MYAC).
"I feel relaxed (when working), I have to focus on my art which means I can't focus on anything else," Hansen says in an Arts Whistler press release, adding she had a case of nerves.
"I am excited to see everybody else's work but not too excited to show mine."
WSS art teacher Brenda Norrie says it is important to show their work in a professional gallery.
"For the huge majority of them it is the first time they've ever shown a piece to anyone publicly. Their work is often shown in the school, but this will be the first time that any of them will participate in something remotely close to this," Norrie says.
The show runs from Jan. 12 to Feb. 8. An opening reception takes place at MYAC on Thursday, Jan. 19 at 5:30 p.m.
The students explored painting, drawing and photography, with acrylic the most popular art form, says Norrie.
"Acrylic paint is something they haven't had access to unless their parents are artists or they have taken an art course... and a lot of the kids chose to stretch their own canvases — it's a new medium for them," Norrie says.
The teens had to write their own artist statements, with their themes and subject choices hugely varied.
"They tend to find images and ideas that mean something to them and interpret them in their own way," Norrie says.
"At Whistler Secondary, art is extremely highly valued. Art is meant to be shown and it is all around the building. Even if kids haven't done it before, they are willing to take the risk."
Arts Whistler's visual arts programmer, Andrea Mueller, says WSS has been holding their annual show at MYAC since 2010.
"The students are highly involved in the entire process," she says.
"Not only do they get to create their work on their main project, they learn about what it means to put on an art show. They come in, they measure the space and hang their work, they get to decide what piece goes where. They take part in creating the write-up for their work, too."
Mueller was enthusiastic about the quality of the work created by the students.
"A lot go on to making art in university or their personal lives," she says.
"I think showing it gives them a good idea what to expect with their art practice."