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International high school students express pain from global conflict through art

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Students of the London International Academy are sharing reflections on global culture and politics through the school’s annual International Art Exhibition.

The show opened Tuesday at the private boarding high school in downtown London, Ont. Students from all over the world are showing off paintings, drawings, photographs and films that express their innermost thoughts and feelings relating to personal experiences as well as ongoing current events.

“Everybody says a picture is worth a thousand words, and it is the truth,” said Abeera Atique, art educator and IB diploma program coordinator at London International Academy.

“Whatever an artist is feeling on the inside, that’s what you put out on your palate, and that’s what goes on to the canvas. So it’s giving the students a chance to have a voice in whether they’re missing their country and they’re expressing their culture, or whether they’re expressing an emotion. Art is the best vehicle, in my opinion, to express that.”

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Kristina Orbova, 17, stands with art teacher Abeera Atique. (Angela McInnes/CBC)

 

Many of the students are on their own for the first time as young teenagers, Atique said, and only some are comfortable fully expressing themselves in English. Creating art is a way for them to break language barriers and connect on a deeper level.

War and striving to find peace amid conflict are common themes in the exhibit.

Kristina Orbova, 17, had started classes with Anna Semonova, 16, a mere day before the Russian invasion of Ukraine began in February. Orbova, from Russia, and Semonova, of Ukraine, each made paintings based on how the event impacted their friendship.

“We put in both of the artworks the unity, the support we gave to each other during these hard times,” said Orbova.

 

Ukrainian Anna Semonova, 16, stands in front of a painting she conceptualized when Russia invaded Ukraine. On the left is her Russian friend Kristina Orbova. Their hair is braided together to represent unity in spite of the war. (Angela McInnes/CBC)

 

Anhelina Yehorova, 16, came from Ukraine at the end of August. In the painting she’s most proud of, she depicts a young boy from Kherson who survived the nine-month occupation. Russian President Vladimir Putin stands behind and keeps the boy prisoner in his arms.

“I call this artwork ‘Stolen Childhood,’ because I think the boy should just play with his friends and enjoy his life at this age, not fight for his life,” said Yehorova. “And that’s why I also portrayed Putin who’s holding this boy, because he is the reason for all these sufferings, because he stole childhood from all Ukrainian kids and me.”

 

Anhelina Yehorova, 16, recently came to Canada from Ukraine. Her painting “Stolen Childhood” depicts a young boy from Kherson who endured a nine-month occupation of the Russian military under the orders of Russian president Vladimir Putin. (Angela McInnes/CBC)

 

Kazakhstani students Yaroslava Sokolova, 17, and Dana Ongdassyn, 17, took to the canvas to share pride in their cultures.

Sokolova spent two months painting a scene of three Kazakh horsemen in honour of what she called an important part of her country’s history.

“Because if we’re not going to appreciate that moment in the history, we’re just going to forget about them,” she said.

 

Yaroslava Sokolova, 17, worked hard painting a scene of three Kazakh horsemen. (Angela McInnes/CBC)

 

Ongdassyn’s work also addresses Islamophobia. She painted an image of a friend who took her own life after experiencing prejudice in France.

“I tried to portray her with [my] eyes because we were close,” said Ongdassyn, “and I tried to portray her and me together because we’ve been through a lot of stuff together.”

 

Dejah Pinder, 16 and from The Bahamas, made paintings and sculptures focused on the topic of racism. (Angela McInnes/CBC)

 

Dejah Pinder, 16 and from The Bahamas, made paintings and sculptures focused on the topic of racism. Her two most prominent pieces depict a young version of George Floyd contrasted against an image of him as a man before his death.

“I want to show that even from a young age he was discriminated against [and] the racism that was used against him was manifested even from such a young age,” said Pinder.

The 22 students featured in the show spent 200 hours in preparation, said Atique. The International Art Exhibition is open to the public at 365 Richmond Street and runs until Jan. 30.

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5 best AI art generators of 2023: DALL-E 2 and alternatives – ZDNet

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5 best AI art generators of 2023: DALL-E 2 and alternatives  ZDNet

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GUEST COLUMN: Local woman discovers the art of healing – OrilliaMatters

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GUEST COLUMN: Local woman discovers the art of healing  OrilliaMatters

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Richmond Art Gallery’s central location makes art easily accessible

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Artist Mike Bourscheid grew up in a “blue-collar family” that he said didn’t have time for museums and art. As his artistic interest grew, the Luxembourg native searched art and museums on his own.

Now Bourscheid is an international artist who is thrilled to have his first solo institutional show displayed at the Richmond Art Gallery (RAG) which sits in the well-frequented, transit friendly Richmond Cultural Centre hub that also includes the Richmond Public LibraryRichmond MuseumThe City of Richmond Archives and the Richmond Art Centre.

“I had to seek art out. It wasn’t easy. Here it is right in front of you. It’s incredible,” said Bourscheid about RAG’s central location by Zoom from Luxembourg recently. “It’s in a community space. It’s pretty cool.”

Bourscheid’s Sunny Side Up and other sorrowful stories along with the video Agnes will be on display Jan. 28 to April 2 at the gallery. Running simultaneously at the gallery is the new Codes of Silence, curated by the RAG’s Zoë Chan.

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“I think when it becomes about the art market often it can become something very elite and something that is hard to understand,” said Bourscheid, who splits his time between Luxembourg and Vancouver as his wife, fellow artist Vanessa Brown, is from Vancouver. “I think art is for everybody. That’s the main thing.

“It’s nice that here people can just walk by and walk in.”

Bourscheid’s new show offers up his signature approach of using handmade costumes, props and crafts to look at and challenge deep-rooted cultural values and relationships.

“I usually say I work in different media,” said Bourscheid. “I work in photography, video, performance, sculpture, drawing and that often it starts with a costume and with my own body then it turns, while doing it, into something. The costume or prop itself decides where it is going.”

 

Sunny Side Up and other sorrowful stories installations feature costumes, props, sculptures and a video by artist Mike Bourscheid. The show runs from Jan. 28 to April 2 at the Richmond Art Gallery.
Sunny Side Up and other sorrowful stories installations feature costumes, props, sculptures and a video by artist Mike Bourscheid. The show runs from Jan. 28 to April 2 at the Richmond Art Gallery. jpg

For the exhibition here, Bourscheid is premiering a new 45-minute, two channel video titled Agnes, which he says is a homage to the hard work of his seamstress single mother. Agnes is her middle name.

“It’s a lot about labour and housework,” said Bourscheid about the 45-minute video accompanied by a recreation of the video’s set complete with the costumes and props from the shoot.

RAG director Shaun Dacey programmed the Bourscheid show and says that for the past few years he has been watching Bourscheid develop, specifically through work with the VAG and Western Front, and was drawn to the “theatricality of his practice.”

“When speaking to Mike I was surprised to find out he had never had a solo exhibition in Vancouver and we wanted to give him the opportunity to play in our space,” said Dacey by email. “With this new project Mike engages familial memory through costume, set-building and video. I am interested in this body of work through his performance of a sort of masculine drag, exaggerating and interrogating this gender performance, as a clown and a cowboy, among other characters.”

The Chan-curated show Codes of Silence features the video artists Haitian/American Shirley Bruno, Aleesa Cohene, a Canadian based in Los Angeles, Caroline Monnet, an Indigenous artist based in Montreal, and American Cauleen Smith.

 

The new show Codes of Silence at the Richmond Art Gallery includes videos from Aleesa Cohene, Caroline Monnet, Cauleen Smith and Shirley Bruno, shown here.
The new show Codes of Silence at the Richmond Art Gallery includes videos from Aleesa Cohene, Caroline Monnet, Cauleen Smith and Shirley Bruno, shown here. jpg

“I think we are accustomed to the voice being a mode of expression. A way of communicating identity. Who we are. But I also wanted to think of ways of communicating that was not so public-facing but kind of delving inward,” said Chan during a phone call. “For example, in Cauleen Smith’s video we see the artist making bouquets. Paying homage basically to someone who has died. So, there is this really ritualistic moment where they are just silently making flowers and we know that this is an act of mourning, but there are no words spoken.

“So maybe it is also kind of saying too that words are not necessarily enough. And inviting the public to consider and focus in on these quieter moments that are more internal and inner-facing and asking the visitors to really listen.”

Chan, who joined the RAG last spring, added that the video presentations will be complimented by art work from the gallery’s own collection.

 

The new video show Codes of Silence marks curator Zoë Chan’s first exhibition for the Richmond Art Gallery since becoming its curator last spring.
The new video show Codes of Silence marks curator Zoë Chan’s first exhibition for the Richmond Art Gallery since becoming its curator last spring. jpg

Chan, like Bourscheid, appreciates the accessibility of the gallery and the deep community roots that have been nurtured with the help of location.

 

“We’re not just getting art aficionados coming to the gallery,” said Chan. “People are stopping by out of curiosity. We are very interested first and foremost in engaging our local communities, but we also hope we are presenting exciting programming that will interest a wide range of people … Any kind of engaged citizen.”

 

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