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Art cards highlight student talent | The Star – Toronto Star

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Art has been part of Lucy Kerr’s life as far back as she can remember.

One of nine students (along with a 10th collaborative piece by a Grade 6/7 class) whose piece has been tagged for a set of greeting cards produced by the district, the Grade 11 student at McMath says art is a way for her to unwind.

“Art is really relaxing for me, and just a creative outlet that is really a big part of my life,” she says. “My family has always been really appreciative of art—I’ve been going to art galleries and and talking about that for my whole life as well.”

Kerr’s piece “Sunny Day” was inspired by the work of acclaimed Canadian artist Ted Harrison, whose style Kerr says she has “always loved.” She adds that the process of looking at different artists’ styles has helped her to create her own: she prefers to paint portraits, which recently she has been doing by commission.

“I want to make something that moves people, and I like getting the emotional reaction when someone sees the art I created for them,” she says. “It’s different than a photograph—there’s so much more meaning that you can draw from (a painting), and it gives a lot more dimension.”

Emi Fairchild, a Grade 4 student at Homma elementary, echoes Kerr’s love of art.

“Art is a great way to express yourself, and it takes your mind off things that you don’t want,” she says.

Her piece “Trumpet of the Swan” was part of a school project inspired by the book of the same name. The artwork mostly uses oil pastels, but Fairchild also chose to add Sharpie to her piece at the end “to make it stand out from all the details.”

She also creates art in her spare time, mostly using pencil and paper. Recently, she’s started weaving, which she says is “easy and fun.”

Kerr and Fairchild are two of the student artists chosen for the Richmond School District’s art card project. Spearheaded by district fine arts administrator (and Blair elementary principal) Catherine Ludwig, the project aims to highlight the work done by students and art teachers across the city, as well as circulating student art broadly.

Ten selections—which reflect a balance of different schools, ages, and genres of art—were printed on greeting cards. Packages of cards were initially given to district administrators for their correspondence, but they will also be available in the near future to members of the school community who want to place an order.

Ludwig says the arts educators in the district started making plans for the project in February, along with trustees and other stakeholder groups.

“One of the goals that came forward, as we imagined a vibrant place for arts education in the district, was creating opportunities for our learners beyond the four walls of our school,” she explains. “(Art) speaks loudly and it amplifies who you are, and ultimately it helps with that uncharted territory of who you are as the self.”

With a desire to make Richmond learners feel supported and part of a larger community, Ludwig and her team asked teachers to submit students’ works for the project. The selections were professionally scanned and a graphic designer in the district ensured they were uniform with things like backdrops, while staying true to the original works. And each student submitted an artist statement, reflecting on their piece, that appears on the back of the card.

By chance, two of the selected works were self-portraits: one by a Kindergarten student from Blair and one from a Grade 12 student at MacNeill. Ludwig has copies of those two pieces displayed in her office.

“It gave the direction of why we’re doing this—look at what happens when we dedicate arts education with passionate arts educators teaching our young ones,” she says.

Ludwig adds that she hopes to repeat the project every two years to represent the changing students within the Richmond school system. And next time, she wants to make a call out for other mediums, too—including sculpture, photography and textiles.

“Connecting with others, having your masterpiece or your image experienced by another is so powerful,” says Ludwig. “It propels you and inspires you to grow and learn and it also encourages you. You get that feedback from others and get a sense of your legacy as an artist.”

She says the kids have recently been picking up their sets of cards from Blair, and their excitement is visible.

“This project had a hand in helping them feel something beyond themselves—that their art had a bigger impact beyond the page,” says Ludwig. “You can just sense how powerful this is for them. I’m so proud of them.”

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The students whose art is featured on the cards are equally as enthused. When she found out her piece would be featured on one of the school district’s art cards, Fairchild was “really excited.”

And while Kerr doesn’t see art as a future career, she expects to never give it up completely regardless of where she ends up in the future.

“I know that art will always be a part of my life, and it will always be a very strong hobby of mine,” she says.

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Filipina front-line workers are turning their pandemic struggles into art – CTV News

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TORONTO —
Throughout her career, registered psychotherapist Elda Almario has spent a great deal putting the mental health of children she works with ahead of her own. But during the pandemic, she says, it’s become even less likely for her to “take a break and reflect.”

Over the past few months, Filipina front-line workers like Almario have found an outlet to relieve bottled-up anxiety, loneliness and fear: Writing their stories down and sharing them.

“Allowing space for my experience to come to the surface became a form of self-care for me,” Almario told CTVNews.ca in an email. “It was great to have a voice and be heard especially during a time when I have been so focused on my work due to increased demands and complex needs.”

The “Stories of Care” writing initiative, run through North York Community House in Toronto, virtually brings together front-line workers such as nurses, retail workers, at-home caretakers, dental hygienists, and cleaners, to share burdens they’ve mostly carried alone.

“It gives me strength, I feel encouraged because I know that no matter what we are facing, we face it with courage, resilience, and positivity and we continue to love what we do,” Olivia Dela Cruz, a paid caretaker of a household of six children, told CTVNews.ca in an email. “My respect [is for] all frontline workers because they all put others before themselves.”

Jennifer Chan, the lead organizer of the initiative, told CTVNews.ca in a video interview that the writers “feel seen and heard in a completely different way.” She said one participant told her, “it was so meaningful to get to write my story and just spend time thinking about me.”

Filipinx people play a crucial role on Canada’s front lines, making up one in 20 health-care workers, according to one study. A third of internationally trained nurses in the country are from the Philippines, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information; with Filipinos making up 90 per cent of migrant caregivers providing in-home care under Canada’s Caregiver Program.

EXPERIENCES CAPTURED IN ART

Chan was inspired to start the program through her work with North York Community House, where she regularly consults with caregivers from the Philippines, who need help filling out government documents.

She and her colleagues were noticing “a lot of stuff coming to the surface” and they wanted to give them an outlet.

“Stories of Care” began last summer as a six-week writing course for a few Filipina front-line workers, and has since grown in attendance and centred on less-time-intensive sessions.

As of last Friday, some of the stories are now featured in a digital exhibition in the DesignTO Festival, based on three Filipinx artists who “read the stories [and] took inspiration from them,” Chan said.

One video called “Balikbayan” – a term for Filipinx people living outside of the Philippines — shows a fruit falling to the ground, turning into a box, crossing the sea, hitting the shore and growing into a tree. This signifies people starting a new life in Canada. The title also refers to the care packages or “Balikbayan boxes” that are sent back to the Philippines.

Another video features an animated circle of faces encircling alternating excerpts about workers’ fears, including getting COVID-19 on the job.

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Another piece features a silhouette of a person holding a sign reading, “we love to deliver,” contrasted with alternating English and Tagalog phrases such as: “I need to sacrifice my comfort for my family,” “I didn’t want to move to Canada” and “Migration is no guarantee for a better future.”

Stories of Care

“Having artists make renditions of our stories gives us the validation that our stories are valuable,” Gretchen Mangahas, a communications specialist and newcomer to Canada, told CTVNews.ca in an email.

“I felt the power of stories in the shared lived experiences of my Filipina sisters,” she said. “I knew that I was not alone, and that the connection opens opportunities to learn how to navigate in a new country I would call home. It has also created friendships and new avenues for sharing with others.”

FILIPINX FRONT-LINE WORKERS FEEL ‘OVERSIZED TOLL’

Last fall, the Migrant Workers Alliance For Change released a damning report alleging that throughout the pandemic, migrant care workers were subjected to entrapment, long hours, and thousands of dollars in stolen wages by exploitative employers.

Chan said some writers “were feeling stuck in their employer situation” and thought about quitting, but knew it would mean they couldn’t provide for family back home and might potentially lose permanent residency status.

Medical news publication Stat News also reported that COVID-19 has taken an “outsized toll” on mental and physical well-being for Filipino front-line workers in the U.S. Chan said the same could be seen in Canada.

“They need an outlet to reflect through their own stories… we’re not hearing enough from them,” she said. Chan said attendees had a lot of cultural habits to overcome initially, including so-called “toxic positivity” and the “ongoing feeling that these women feel that they have to feel grateful to be here.”

Many worried about their families back home in the Philippines, which was hit by multiple typhoons last year. Chan said others wrote about the strict lockdown measures in the country and about “not being able to go home. Not feeling safe here or there.”

Although most people today are only being able to connect with family over video or the phone, that’s what immigrants have done for decades, said magazine editor Justine Abigail Yu, who facilitates the writing workshop in both English and Tagalog.

“Loving from afar” was a big theme in their writing, she told CTVNews.ca in a phone interview. “Obviously the conditions are quite different on an extreme level, but we’ve always had to show our family who are living in entirely different countries how we care for them and how we love them.”

The organizers said front-line workers’ feelings of isolation and homesickness while living in Canada have only been amplified by the pandemic.

Yu, the founder of magazine Living Hyphen, created an environment where Filipina workers could open up to themselves and to others.

“So many of these caregivers and our immigrant families, we just want to survive. We move to Canada, work our asses off to get by and to make sure that we’re providing for our children and there’s no room to tell stories,” she said. Yu’s role involved “breaking down that barrier first and foremost.”

And the investment appears to have paid off.

“In more ways than one, we deeply resonated with each other’s experience,” Almario said. “I gained a sense of belongingness and community, the feeling of not being alone.”

Caregiver and single mother Dela Cruz agreed, saying being a part of this project “brings back so many memories that I thought completely forgotten. Stories about me that I never thought I will have the courage to share.”

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‘Glorified littering’: Junk street art installations popping up around Montreal – Global News

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From the Van Horne skate park in the Mile End to NDG’s Saint-Jacques Escarpment, bizarre art installations are popping up around the city.

Prowling panthers, massive abstract beasts — it’s all put together from the imagination of the artist under the pseudonym Junko.

It’s a fitting name, for all the art he creates is entirely made from miscellaneous “trash” that he finds on the street.

“Basically, they’re carefully arranged piles of garbage,” Junko said. “You can call it glorified littering.”

Read more:
Black Lives Matter street mural removed from Ste-Catherine Street

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Using things found on the street like car tires, bike frames, even shoes, everything is a workable piece in Junko’s creations.

Car bumpers are a common staple in his creatures.

“They’re definitely a popular item for me,” he said with a laugh.

Over the past few months, he has put together some six different statues around the city and abroad, all varying in size from small to towering.

A timber frame made from recycled wood holds the installations together.

“I’ve been making art my whole life,” Junko said. “My art has always been around creating creatures and characters. This is a new chapter in that.”

He says finding the junk isn’t that hard in the city but finding the right piece can be.

“Sometimes it’s extremely easy. I’ll be walking and find something and carry it home,” he said.

Read more:
Montreal’s Mile End construction project ends up on residents’ doorsteps

While shying away from the spotlight, Junko says he isn’t trying to make a point with his art, which he says speaks for itself.

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“There no deep hidden meaning, it’s just a way to expressing myself,” Junko said.

That so-called trash is getting a lot of likes and recognition on social media and on the street.

“There is a lot of art in the neighbourhood, so it’s good, I’m not against it,” resident Nick Barry-Shaw said.

Juno sees his form of expression as a legal grey zone.

“The people are into it but I’m not sure about the city, though,” Junko laughed.

Read more:
Pointe-Saint-Charles mural defaced by graffiti a chance to reconnect with community, creators say

He said that unlike graffiti, his street art is not vandalism but simply “an organized pile of trash.”

So far, all four art installations in the city have not been taken down, according to Junko.

The young artist says there is a lot more art to come and people should keep their eyes peeled.

“I’m just getting started so, yeah, you can expect more work,” he said.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Fine art in your mailbox: local artist creates unique postcards – TheRecord.com

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WATERLOO — A new postcard art project will use snail mail to rekindle memories of travel while sharing evocative original artwork.

Art galleries are closed due to the pandemic, and opportunities for local artists like Paul Roorda to display and sell their artwork are sparse.

“I just wanted to find a way to get my art out there so people can see it,” Roorda said.

His project “Somewhere Anywhere Postcards” is a series of hand-printed postcards that feature abstract landscapes, vintage stamps and messages of hope.

Roorda photographed different parts of an old, weathered wall. The lines and markings reminded him of beautiful landscapes, the ones you typically see on postcards from tourist destinations.

The postcards are small works of fine art, Roorda said, from the imagined landscape of the weathered wall he photographed, down to the vintage stamps he found and attached to each individual postcard.

The photographs were processed using an age-old technique known as cyanotype. Roorda mixes chemicals and brushes them onto paper. He then exposes the photographs in the sun and develops each photograph in water. The result of this process creates cyan-blue prints.

“I wanted to stay true to the vintage nature of the art,” Roorda said.

He has also written hopeful messages on the back of each postcard to uplift people during the pandemic as it keeps everyone indoors this winter.

“Right now with COVID we are surrounded by our walls, and we can see walls around us as barriers. I wanted to write something about seeing past those barriers at a time when people are feeling discouraged.”

Roorda is fascinated with vintage and antique items as well as found objects. Three years ago he created mini art galleries out of metal cash boxes and attached them to utility poles throughout Waterloo.

Roorda was ordered to remove them by bylaw officers, but was later granted permission by the city to temporarily display his art. The project was called “Time Stops” and each piece featured a musical element, found objects and messages.

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Roorda’s postcard project is supported by a grant from the Region of Waterloo Arts Fund. He launched “Somewhere Anywhere Postcards” last week and has already mailed postcards to addresses across Ontario and to Europe.

Roorda’s postcards can be found in his online shop at www.paulroorda.com.

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