Student art exhibits can be more unique, creative, open and powerful than professional exhibitions, because their artists have (probably) not spent years in art school, where they have been told what is – or is not – or does – or does not – count as art. From that perspective, “Expressions 41: Our Place In The World,” a collection of student art from the region at the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery, does not disappoint.
Fun, fantastical and Faustian, the exhibit includes pieces of art in many different forms to capture everyone’s attention, including digitally altered photography, portraits, comic book pages, paintings, sculptures, collages and masks. For example, a senior kindergartener from Forest Hill Public School painted his family on the North Pole, including their two pet frogs, one of which looks like a groovy jazz horn player. Don’t miss the sculpture of a rhino-bunny by a wonderfully creative grade nine student from Bluevale. (Participating school boards asked we not identify individual students.)
Expressions 41 clearly relates many sincere messages and stories. Many of the pieces are powerful and thought-provoking. The painting “Upon Reflection,” by a grade 12 from Eastwood, includes an artist statement:
“This piece is a self-portrait reflecting on how I perceive myself, my emotions, thoughts, and beliefs. Sometimes the most difficult place to belong is within yourself. However once you do, you may find your place in the world is closer than you thought.”
A collaged mannequin with a video monitor for a head, called “Stand up!,” invites you to put on headphones, watch a video, and immerse yourself in palpable memories of what seems like a never-ending cycle of childhood name-calling and stone-throwing. Derek Elworthy, a communications teacher at St. David’s, worked with students from grades 10, 11 and 12, combining their skills and passions to create the mannequin. The result is a compelling visual and audio statement about the harmfully negative effects of being isolated, pressured, misunderstood and uncared for, as well as the impact it has on who you become when you grow up.
These exciting creations and important stories are being displayed at the KWAG until May 22.