Signed in as:
Signed in as:
with Heather Lamoureux & Susan Hall
with artist Christine Mackenzie
“I have been working as an AIRS artist with students and teachers at Begbie Elementary for five years. From the studio, we have watched the transformation of the school grounds and imagined together through art, what the new school building might be like.
After 3-4 years of construction, the school finally moved into the into their new building. The new school is full of windows and has open spaces for the school community to see and meet together. I’m happy to say that the studio is now located in a large common space that offers us a panormaic view to the east where the city and mountains meet one another.
In preparation for the new school, staff worked with a Musqueum knowledge holder who gifted the school with a new name:
The name is:
wək̓ʷan̓əs tə syaqʷəm
which means 'sun on the horizon at dawn'
Since January, our studio work in the new space has been around observing this land and cityscape and exploring the poetic meaning behind wək̓ʷan̓əs tə syaqʷəm.
We are re-orienting ourselves to this new place, and how the school fits into the neighborhood, and how it is situated in the landscape of the city surrounded by mountains and waterways.
We asked: With whom do we share this beautiful landscape and what are some of their stories? Students studied animals from the land, the waters and the air- ranging from small Monarchs butterflies to large migratory whales, with octopus, eagles and foxes and more in between.
We are now embarking on a large collaborative piece on canvas that weaves together stories from the land and waters. We decided that if the piece was about the land then it needed to meet the land! So on a snowy morning we tookthe 12ft x 6ft canvas outside, laid it on the ground, knelt on the edges and pushed the smooth canvas into the snow. It felt squishy, hard and most of all cold. After we stepped back to look at the canvas students noticed that the canvas now had lines and folds within it.
One student said:
“I see mountains, it’s like we’ve kind of found our mountains on here.”
“it is like we are giants moulding the mountains with our hands.”
We brought the canvas back into the studio for more exploration. We added natural earth inks made from the summer’s grapes and marigolds to the lines and folds we discovered. We introduced graphite rubbings of autumn leaves from the surrounding trees onto the canvas.
As spring comes to wək̓ʷan̓əs tə syaqʷəm, we will continue the journey of discovery with K- Grade 1 students as we bring the canvas to the land and the land to the canvas.
At Queen Alexandra, Christine and Maggie engaged the whole school in a shadow theatre adaption of a Haida story gifted to Christine. Finding your Way Home is a story of Little One, a two spirit indigenous child that wanders away rom their elders and gets lost in the forest at night encountering butterflies, salmon, bunnies and nocturnal forest creatures along the way. Students brought the story to life using small and life-sized puppets, props and scenery created from cut paper, cardboard, sharpies and colored acetates mounted on old overhead projectors.
Christine taught the students elements of North West Coast form line design which students incorporated into their puppets. Maggie worked with students to integrate backdrops and scenery and to transform the space of the gym into a giant cedar forest.
"It was really fun to work on the projector and make cool effects with them. " - Intermediate student
"I felt calm when the butterflies danced. I felt proud that we did the puppet show ourselves." - Rosemary
"I feel like an artist in the art studio." - Navy
Every student in the school had a part to play in the production including the singing, sound effects, narration, acting, projector work and scene management. The final performance, put on for the wider school community, was surreal and magical with all the wonderful and chaotic contributions coming together into a breathtaking community experience that the whole school shared and created together.
“My favorite part was watching kids come out of their shell and over the weeks, everyone was comfortable in the space and you could really see students trying and engaging, diving deeper into conversation and taking risks in their art. It was neat to see how healing it was for the students to be part of creating together as a whole community, particularly for those who struggle with their mental health and self-esteem.” Christine Mackenzie
"Little One sat down on a rock and cried and cried.
There are many ways to get lost….in your mind and your emotions…with anxiety…depression.. going to the dark side…getting lost in technology…being mean…forgetting who you are.
Our world has lost its way….slavery……residential schools...generational trauma…racism...pollution...species extinction...…war and human trafficking.
When we lose our way, what are the voices that help guide us home?"
Text by Christine Mackenzie in collaboration with Queen Alexandra students
At the Art and Discovery Studio in Florence Nightingale Elementary, Nellie Gossen invited Grade 5, 6 and 7 students to upcycle a piece of used clothing for their future selves. Introducing fashion artists such as Buzigahill, Lucy Ortega and Nellie’s own practice which intersect with issues such as fast fashion, branding, and waste. Students were asked to consider how clothing might reflect their own values and were given permission to burst open existing conventions about what is fashionable or beautiful, while still considering the functionality of their piece.
Students embraced the possibilities of dismantling and re-imagining their chosen article, Incorporating a variety of sewing techniques and aspect of the fashion design process students worked individually and collaboratively to transform their original garment through novel re-attachment, and adding different colored and textured fabrics and embellishments.
The finale to the residency was a fashion show runway experience for their class, where students were able to model their creations and share the ideas behind them. Garments included dresses, shirts, skirts and jumpsuits as well as capes, bags and hats. Students were proud of what they had created.
Throughout the residency Nellie created a safe space to experience the pleasure in dressing up and experimentation with clothing and explore students own relationship to clothing, which is often fraught with identity and social anxiety.
This year, in the Art and Discovery Studio Nightingale students have been using art making as a way of tending to and reflecting on the losses we experience in our lives. All of us carry loss, no matter how young; whether from physical injuries or lost belongings with special memories; broken relationships or friends or relations that have moved away; the death of a loved one, or homes and countries of origin. In addition to this, students are growing up with the collective burden of living in a broken world and an increasingly uncertain future; including loss of species diversity, climate precarity, global instability, systemic discrimination and the growing understanding of genocide towards indigenous people in Canada.
When we make space for loss; take time to be present to the losses in our lives, we affirm the truth of our own experience and the love that is integral to who we are. We come to understand that loss is an experience we all share, and through our sharing, we not only lighten the weight of what we carry, we are able to extend compassion and attention to others, in ways that make space for deeper and more authentic relationships.
Echo dyeing and embroidery
The Mending and Tending Project, is an ongoing, collaborative project across the whole school and wider community. Students and members of the school community were invited to stitch a bandage to represent an expression of care for a hurt in their own lives or in the life of someone else.
The bandages were also made by students using recycled cotton sheets, mordanted and bundle wrapped with leaves. These were steamed and unwrapped to reveal beautiful trace imprints on the cloth made from the pigment and tannins in the leaves. The stitches are intuitive and imbued with deep intention, charting abstract pathways in through and wrapping around the ethereal landscapes - that make visible the longing and love that is present in tending for each other's hurts.
Mixed media, assemblage, weaving and paper mache
In November and December, upper Intermediate Students created a vessel, or special container, to represent a loss that they carry within their hearts. The materials, forms and embellishments chosen by students held symbolic meaning in relation to this loss. During the winter season, when there is so much expectation to be happy, losses can feel especially heavy and isolating. Acknowledging the pain of loss is important, because it is also the expression of enduring love. Students shared their vessels with each other, in a special ceremony at the end of the residency and displayed them in the Art and Discovery studio. This gave students in other classes a chance to see and respond in words and drawings to the vessel they connected with and share their own stories of loss.
Students shared that through the making process, they were able to express themselves, the losses they had experienced and their feelings; that it provided a place to let their emotions out and to remember; to express regret for mistakes and to keep memories safe.
Students shared that making the vessels allowed them to appreciate what they do have and to be grateful.
Drawings, relief prints, landscape painting and poetry
As many as 1 in 5 wild species in Canada are at risk of extinction with 135 known species already extirpated from our country. Who noticed their disappearance? Do we know their names?
Remembering that which is loss or endangered, is an expression of love and care; It is a calling to attention.
What does it mean to mark the loss of a whole species? How can expressions of art provide a context for that remembering.
Over the course of 5 weeks, intermediate students in grades 3,4 and 5 spent time getting to know one species in Canada that is either extinct, extirpated or critically endangered, in our waters, on land or in the air. Students became knowledge holders for their given species – many of which are little known. Using photographs and research information, students created bold reduction relief prints to give visibility to the form and features of their given species. THe bold, bright, non naturalistic colours, call out for our attention, to hold them in our memory.
As habitat loss is the primary reason for species endangerment, students each painted a tempera landscape depicting the habitat of their species . These were collaged together into three long mural strips in the main foyer of the school.
We held a lament ceremony to honor their lost or endangered species. Each species was named and remembered through a lament poem, written by each student. After reading the poem. Students printed a silhouetted absence of their species onto their landscape. By speaking their species’ name in a witnessed act of remembrance, students asserted the intrinsic value of each species as part of our beautiful and fragile world. This was a powerful moment, that held both sorrow and a strong sense of felt connection; we were made aware of the weight of what it means for a whole species to be lost, and a deeper understanding of the interconnectedness of all living beings.
Stepping into the studio at Tecumseh Elementary, one is immersed in a cascade of botanical prints and drawings decorating every wall of the room. There are intricate drawing of native plant species washed with plant-based “living” inks that will change their tone over time. These beautiful drawing were meticulously copied, to scale, from herbarium sheets of native plant specimens that Julie had collected, pressed and compiled especially for the project.
Alongside the botanical drawing are striking negative silhouettes of different leaves in blue cyanotyps prints; photographic coated paper developed by the sun . A further collection of prints combine embossed relief prints of Western Red Cedar, Yellow Cedar, and Douglas Fir leaves and cedar overlayed with chin colle's of the colonial buildings that now stand where the abundant forests once did. The contrast of positive and negative silhouettes are quite striking and a visual metaphor for our logging history and practices.
Over the residency, students learned the difference between indigenous, introduced and invasive plant species and how botanical illustrations contribute to scientific knowledge. Students also learned to identify plants using the 5 aspects of the plant (the branching pattern, the flower, the leaves, the stem and the fruit).
These plant forms are echoed in the whimsical floral motifs inspired by Art Deco design and the imagination of the students. These were carved into scratchboards, creating an elegant contrast of shimmering engraved lines against the deep black coating.
material explorations, light, observational drawings
In this residency with Rebecca students began by paying close attention to the natural environment just outside the school. They got to know the trees and plants surrounding the school and began to notice how growth happens.
This project unfolded with various material explorations introducing students to languages of these materials. We considered how water and light are integral for life on Earth.
As students created observational drawings from Beaty Museum specimens they were able to learn about plant and animal relationships above and below the surface of the ocean.
photography, pen and ink drawings, digital animation
With Yunuen students explored the word or concept of "growth"; What is growth? How do we notice growth? What makes things grow? These are some of the questions we explored while learning about photography and stop motion and integrating the use of natural objects to create collages and ink-on-paper drawings to incorporate patterns. The goal was to take students through a growing art-making process by adding mediums, techniques and collaborators as we progress through the sessions. Even though the process was the most important, students ended up with winsome drawings, photographs and stop-motion animations that represent the uniqueness of their voices.