The art teachers at Chilliwack’s high schools are gathering up stacks of impressive and creative work by their students in preparation for this year’s ART33 exhibition.
The annual art show features work by students in Grades 10, 11, and 12 from all three high schools.
“It’s a collaborative effort of organization,” says Sandra Wiens, art teacher at Sardis Secondary (SSS).
She and fellow SSS art teacher, Pierre Tremblay, have been working together on ART33 for seven years. Other organizer are G.W. Graham (GWG) teacher, Rebecca Sagert, and Chilliwack secondary (CSS) teacher, Kaima Bazaar.
“We all help organize,” says Wiens. “Everyone is excellent.”
The teachers keep their eyes open for great artwork that deserves to be on display. When they find pieces that are fit for gallery walls, they set them aside. They each gather dozens of pieces of artwork from their classes and will be trucking them to the Cultural Centre next week to set up the show.
“We show up with a mission,” says Tremblay.
Once there, they lay everything out and start organizing. If they see there’s a theme that’s popping up amongst the schools, they’ll have a wall featuring that theme.
In the end, they’re left with more than 100 pieces of artwork. The work in the gallery will not be separated by schools, it’ll all be mixed together.
“It’ll be thematic, but it won’t be walls per school,” says Tremblay. “The last thing we want to do is separate the schools. It’s a school district show.”
Guests will see paintings, photography, drawings, sculptures, ceramics, and more.
For Grade 12 CSS student, Jolene Yaremy, it’ll be her first time taking part in ART33. She admits she’s a bit nervous even though she’s been drawing for as long as she can remember.
Her piece is a portrait of her boyfriend, Dylan. She explains it as a portrait of his face, and “his skin texture is all different colours… I used purple, pink, a little bit of blue and I used white and they’re all in different tones.”
“My immediate family — my mom and my brother — were always really good at art. They’ve always been really good drawers, and I got it from them,” says Jolene.
Grade 12 SSS student, Olivia Nixon, has taken part in ART33 every year. This will be her third time in the show, and this year she’ll have a macro still life series of an apple, a ceramic chalice, and a surreal ink drawing in the show.
“It’s very humbling,” she says about ART33. “I love the feeling that people love my paintings and my drawings and my art so much to the point that they want to show it off to other people. For me that’s very uplifting. It makes me want to do more art. It’s very exciting that people do that for me.”
She enjoys many different forms of art, and she likes drawing people, creatures, monsters that she dreams about.
“I like the freedom of creation. I like making my own styles and I love having feedback, but I also love expanding on my own thoughts,” says Olivia.
“I love creating stories with art,” she says. “[Art is] the willingness to create.”
She gets “very strong” feedback from her family, friends, and teachers.
“My dad, he’s excited to see that my art is just expanding constantly,” she says.
GWG Grade 12 students, Hyunjin So and Colton Ridder, have also taken part in ART33 in the past. This year will be Hyunjin’s third time and Colton’s second.
What Colton likes about art is “the fact of making something — whether it be recreating something that already exists, or making something entirely new. Drawing and painting in itself is enjoyable.”
He enjoys ceramics, sculpture, and painting.
Hyunjin also enjoys the same mediums as Colton, but also loves quick sketching, like watching people on the streets or from the bus and quickly drawing them.
She says she was “horrible” at drawing when she was younger. Her friends said she was a terrible drawer.
“In my mind I was thinking ‘I will show you guys what I can do.’ So I drew a lot for about three or four years, and my talent came from my effort.”
Over time she got better at it and she was able to quick-sketch people on the streets.
“I like recreating things, because even though you see the colours around you, you can just change it when you’re painting it,” she says.
They will each have at least one piece in the show.
ART33 started more than 30 years ago by CSS teachers Fred Granzow and Jerry Coffman. It started as a CSS show, then SSS joined in the 1990s, and when GWG was built 10 years ago, they also joined the exhibition.
“I think the collaborative part is important for me. I really like the idea of the teachers and the students and the community coming together to put something together,” says Wiens. “For me as a teacher, it’s inspirational because I see what other teachers have done with their students.”
“What I find very cool, when I look around and see the show, is to think about the experience that the kids are getting to have their art piece in a professional art gallery. It doesn’t happen that often for an artist. For kids, it doesn’t happen. So it’s a chance for them to shine in the community,” says Tremblay.
All of the students said they want to pursue a career in some form of art whether it’s animation, music, or something else.
“What I’ve wanted to be for a really long time is a tattoo artist,” says Jolene. “Working on the skin and the idea of people having it on their body for the rest of their life, it appeals to me. The mindset that you can be in to be a tattoo artist is where I want to be. I want to be so confident in my work that I can put it on someone’s skin and have them be happy with it.”
ART33 runs May 18 to June 17 in the Art Gallery at the Cultural Centre, Opening reception is set for Thursday, May 18 from 6 to 8 p.m. Gallery hours are noon to 5 p.m. Wednesdays to Saturdays, plus during some evening shows at the centre.