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Fresh and young art

Almost too much to take in, at least all at once, these days repeat visits to Thunder Bay Art Gallery are highly recommended.
The Cowgirl by Nyasha Makuto (Submitted photo)
Almost too much to take in, at least all at once, these days repeat visits to Thunder Bay Art Gallery are highly recommended.

Secondary School Art 2010, up in the first two galleries there is simply over the top! Thirteen high schools are represented; all involved should be proud of so many young visual artists testing their waters of creativity and obviously skipping, skimming unimpeded over the waves.

Every imaginable genre is in this large eclectic show: watercolour, acrylic, markers and metal; clay, carved white birch, plasticine, pencil, prints on silk; photography, collage, conté; even some latex house paint.

Sauntering slowly around the rooms, one’s eyes hardly know where to look first. Then the emotions and thoughts need time to catch up with the eyes, especially after absorbing some of the works’ titles and noting the particular grade(s) of the students. It was up to each art teacher to fill a limited roster of submission spaces.

It’s impossible and unfair to single out individual artists and/or submissions. Nonetheless, these overall noteworthy qualities that impressed and amazed this viewer.

Done in jewel-toned markers, some graphic designs and patterns are beautifully detailed and so intricately designed they immediately speak to the imagination and splendid hand-eye control of the artist. One watercolour-and-ink equally saturated in rich hues has the added interest of impeccable texture by the artist’s minute, exact pen/quill strokes.

Outstanding are the groupings of graphite-on-paper portraits: striking faces in various poses and expressions. Literally they speak to meticulous observation skills and, again, superb hand-eye ability. As do a series of classical painting and sculpture reproductions: reproductions rendered on conté-on-mid-tone-paper, but with alterations that lift this young work to a new level.

What for this viewer was so inspiring is that many of the artists are (only) in Grade 9. Clearly such talent is already solidly in place, innate. Sure, hours must have been spent perfecting individual outcomes. Still, the innate-aspect of talent is very apparent.

TBAG’s communications and marketing coordinator Alastair MacKay: “for over 30 years this gallery has showcased the visual art of secondary school students of northwestern Ontario. It has grown and improved to the point where now it’s a vivid reflection and celebration in the most modern of media of what is in the minds of today’s students. The fact that 6 regional schools are represented is proof that expression through visual art is alive throughout the region.”

One thoughtful work bears delightful witness to the importance of friendships nourished in youth. We see a charcoal sketch of two obvious best friends since childhood, now matured into teenage girls gazing out at the viewer with intelligent eyes, connected-at-the-hip smiles. A third dimension gets added by a pair of (unpainted) plaster hands upturned and holding a smaller cartoonish scene in colour of these same friends, we just know it even though now we see them from behind. Hand-in-hand they’re set to jump off a dock into a summertime lake of cool adventure: poignant and charming.

Visit (and re-visit) Secondary School Art 2010: up at the gallery until May 30.

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