Students from the Lower Mainland will be presenting their artwork at a unique exhibition held at Art @Bentall Gallery this upcoming May.
This collaboration offers something different for art lovers in Vancouver. It’s a chance to see the next generation of young artists share their ideas and what is important to them while they get to learn how to curate an exhibition.
Students spend much of their learning time in the classroom working on problems, practicing on examples or trying to understand the theory behind why things work. Practical application can sometimes be hard to find or work into a lesson plan.
Sylvia Lau teaches business at Collingwood Neighbourhood School. It is her students who are spearheading this initiative.
“My students in my business club, it’s the Collingwood Business Organization, they got together, and they formed the committee,” Lau says. “There are two separate committees actually. One committee is a liaison between our EDI group and our business group. And they came up with some guidelines for art submissions that represent EDI to the student. And the student can be grade 8 to 12—doesn’t matter.”
EDI is an important topic that runs throughout the entire curriculum. It stands for equity, diversity and inclusion. These three ideals have become the foundation for this exhibition as well, with submitting students creating art to show what EDI means to them.
“We’re inviting everyone from the Greater Vancouver area to create a piece of art,” Lau says. “And it can be a poem. It can be a song. It can be a sculpture, a painting, photography—doesn’t matter. But it’s what EDI means to them. And it could be a positive message, about empowerment. Or it could be a negative one about how it has affected them and how they hate what it’s done to certain people.”
Lau works with her students as a facilitator. She sees her job as giving them the tools and skills necessary to succeed, but to ultimately get out of their way, even if that means they may face obstacles and challenges along the way.
“I teach them how to make a deadline, how much leeway you need from the marketing of it to the actual submission time. Things like that, the practical side. I will show them and I will clarify what’s appropriate and inappropriate. So, I have the final say, but the creativity and all that is theirs.”
Choosing to work with Art @Bentall Gallery as a business project was important for Lau and her students. Instead of a more typical business, they will experience working in the arts. The students wanted to show everyone the importance of having a way to process and explore their emotions.
“We want to legitimize in their minds that this is a good medium, whether you go into it as a career or not, that’s not the important part. It’s about what it can bring to you in terms of your soul, humanity in general … it’s an outlet,” Lau says.
The exhibition runs the month of May 2022 at Art @Bentall Gallery. Student artwork will be changed weekly in order to have as many students participate as possible.
By Nathan Durec