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Local students tell story of pandemic through facemask art – Owen Sound Sun Times

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By connecting them with one of the artists it is currently featuring, the Tom Thomson Art Gallery has given some local students the opportunity to have their voices heard through their unique works of art.

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The art gallery recently launched its initiative Emerging Artists Unmasked, which features more than 20 creations of senior art students at Hanover’s John Diefenbaker Secondary School, who were guided and inspired by contemporary artist Don Kwan, whose own face mask works are a major part of the art gallery’s current exhibition Facing It.

Tom Thomson Art Gallery curator of public projects and education Heather McLeese said Friday that the gallery really wanted to connect an artist with youth again, something that has been difficult during the pandemic. And as it turned out, Kwan, whose own personal experiences and challenges come through in his work, turned out to be the ideal teacher.

“He is a wonderful speaker, an amazing teacher and an incredible visual artist so just connecting him to those students who are young aspiring artists was really quite a special experience and definitely inspirational for them,” McLeese said.

In the exhibit Facing It, which is currently on display at the gallery, Kwan uses a combination of Chinese takout menus, joss money, silkscreen and inkjet prints, wire, glue and thread in a series of masks that address his own emotional response to the pandemic.

A third-generation Chinese Canadian, Kwan said his work was brought forth by the pandemic as he dealt with isolation, loss and racism toward the Asian community that was magnified during the lockdown.

Kwan said working on the Facing It exhibit and doing the workshop with the students “reminded me of the power of art and how art continues to connect communities.”

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Artist Don Kwan with some of the works created by John Diefenbaker Secondary School senior arts students.
Artist Don Kwan with some of the works created by John Diefenbaker Secondary School senior arts students. Photo by supplied

Because the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the connection between Kwan and the students was done virtually. Kwan did a full artist talk and did an origami workshop with the students, going through the process of making a face mask out of paper, McLeese said.

Students were then asked to create their own facemasks, using various media and materials, to tell their own personal stories about how the pandemic has affected them and what they took way from it.

The results were varied and full of imagery and messaging. Some used newspaper headlines depicting the headlines of the pandemic, while chains and wire were prominent on others, illustrating that feeling of being locked in and unable to express their feelings. One mask depicts images of trees and grass of a local park, a place of escape when the pandemic lockdowns hit.

“Face masks are now a safety requirement, but they have become this way of expressing yourself,” said McLeese. “It was a fun project, a lot of sharing happened and a lot of the students really told a story through the masks they created.”

JDSS senior arts student Zanne Stassen created a mask that she said is about the stagnation of time and continuity as the world that felt off-kilter during the pandemic. She covered her mask in buttons that she arranged in a broken timeline “to show how the linear process of time feels disrupted; the buttons are wrapped with ideas that reflect this.”

“I have noticed pre-COVID a lot of our time was segmented into 14-day periods, such as the lending period for a library book or pay periods,” Stassen said. “I saw that this concept remained the same, but the context shifted to suit the times.”

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A facemask created by Zanne Stassen.
A facemask created by Zanne Stassen. Photo by supplied

Stassen said she included personal family photos of past decades and a more recent picture of her cousin with her grandfather “to show the passing of time has little effect on the dynamic of human nature; children still laugh and people still go on.”

JDSS Visual Arts teacher Anne McLaughlin said the students embraced the task of using facemasks as the bases of their major art project, which examined their reactions and feeling about the almost two-year pandemic.

“I am very proud of my students as they went way beyond the parameters of the project,” she said. “The artworks produced are both visually stunning and visually provoking. The students want to challenge the viewers to look closely for hidden or not obvious meanings in their artwork.”

McLeese said she is hoping it will get people talking about the work and their own experiences during the pandemic.

Kwan’s workshop is available on the art gallery’s digital portal at tomthomsonartgallery.wixsite.com/digitalportal

And the facemasks by the students are running in tandem with the Facing It exhibition and can be viewed in the lobby at the gallery until the end of January.

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Cornwall Hive's Art 4 All event hopes to grow – Standard Freeholder

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It might have been virtual, but the first ever Art 4 All still yielded some good results on Saturday.

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The event, organized by the Cornwall Art Hive, aimed at getting the local artistic community together to discuss the craft, create connections and of course, create. Initially, it was to be hosted at the Cornwall Square mall, but health and safety restrictions meant that it had to take place over Zoom.

Despite a smaller turnout that anticipated, Richard Salem, executive director of Your Arts Council of Cornwall and the SDG Counties (YAC), is hopeful that future Art 4 All events can be held in person.

“We felt that rather than not have anything that this would be better than nothing,” he said. “We are trying to keep the events as consistent as possible. We want to have one every month and hopefully by next month, the third Saturday, at Cornwall Square, we will have an event in person.”

In all, three local artists too part in the event — Salem, Yafa Goawily, and Liv Bigtree.

“Right now I have work showing at the Brooklyn collective which is a gallery space in North Carolina,” said Bigtree, 19. “Right now, I’m not really doing much, art-wise. I’ve been taking it easy, taking a little break.

“I like to do that when I’m not really working on big projects, I just come back to this space where I just have fun.”

  1. The Your Arts Council of Cornwall and SDG unveiled a new logo in collaboration with the Cornwall Art Hive at its general meeting on Tuesday, June 22, 2021 over Zoom. Handout/Cornwall Standard-Freeholder/Postmedia Network

    Your Arts Council struggled in pandemic, but excited for the year ahead

  2. The old Bank of Montreal building on Pitt Street on Friday July 6, 2018 in Cornwall, Ont. The building will soon become Cornwall's new arts centre.
Lois Ann Baker/Cornwall Standard-Freeholder/Postmedia Network

    YAC interested in running Cornwall’s arts centre

Goawily, which produces a wide range of visual arts, said creating art has always been relieving. She also explained that although the pandemic has created some issues for artists, it has had the effect of growing the local art movement.

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“We are growing not just with events and support, we are growing because we can reach different people – that is our main goal,” she said. “The community knows now that we are open for them.”

“Art is so important not just for artists but for everyone,” said Bigtree. “You don’t have to have specific skills. I really think that everyone is an artist. I think that it’s part of what makes us humans.

“Art is about freedom and that is what art hive is trying to create.”

Even with the pandemic, the Cornwall Art Hive and YAC still managed to host well-attended events in the summer, in Lamoureux Park. According to Salem, the happenings attracted residents from all walks of life and grew fast in popularity.

“Of course that it’s sad (pandemic restrictions), but I think that we learned to support each other more,” said Goawily. “I was new to Cornwall and did my first solo exhibition here. I find that yes, we are tiny but we are mighty. We are growing fast and we support each other truly.”

“We started buying art from each other and we had some groups going sharing what we had accomplished. We are stronger together.”

Anyone interested in gaining insight on the local art community can do so through a variety of videos uploaded to the Your Arts Council Youtube channel .

Fracine@postmedia.com

twitter.com/FrancisRacine

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The LA Art Show Returns With an Environmental Focus – Surface Magazine

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Environmental issues have taken on a particular urgency in the past year. Climate scientists have warned that if nations fail to immediately pivot from fossil fuels, catastrophic consequences await. Artists frequently reckon with this grim reality, with many expressing skepticism—if not outright anger—at climate inaction, which has resulted in the destruction of coral reefs, intense wildfires, rising sea levels, and the extinction of beloved animal species. The issues surrounding climate change have become top of mind for The LA Art Show, which is kicking off the city’s eagerly anticipated 2022 art season with a newfound ecological lens thanks to the return of DIVERSEartLA.

This year’s edition, which kicks off today at the Los Angeles Convention Center, sheds light not only on how artists represent the environment in their work, but how humanity’s role factors into the equation. “DIVERSEartLA 2022 will encourage visitors to confront the complex challenges of our global climate crisis and imagine potential solutions,” says Marisa Caichiolo, the show’s curator, who encouraged participating art museums to partner with science and environmental institutions. “This topic is at the heart of a growing number of art narratives, including exhibitions built with high-tech innovations designed to inspire artistic appreciation and the desire to respond to environmental challenges, reinforcing the value of translating environmental advocacy into art.” 

Among the programming highlights is “Our turn to change,” a worry-inducing video installation by Andrea Juan and Gabriel Penedo Diego and presented by the Museum of Nature of Cantabria Spain that awakens viewers to melting polar ice caps that are causing sea levels to rise drop by drop. The Torrance Art Museum, meanwhile, presents “Memorial to the Future,” a collaborative piece curated by Max Presneill that centers Brutalist architecture as a failed model of idealism while highlighting the immediate need for environmental action. And in “The Earth’s Fruits” by Guillermo Anselmo Vezzosi, waste unexpectedly takes on a dignified second life. 

The LA Art Show opens at the Los Angeles Convention Center, South Hall, from Jan. 19–23. 

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300-pound local art heist took 4 minutes | News | pentictonherald.ca – pentictonherald.ca

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300-pound local art heist took 4 minutes | News | pentictonherald.ca  pentictonherald.ca



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