The 2022 Young Artists Conference made an in-person comeback after two years of virtual festivities.
Since 1987, the annual event for aspiring artists in elementary school has offered students an opportunity to showcase their artwork and take part in a series of workshops, but with the arrival of the pandemic in March 2020, the conference was forced to go virtual.
“Students look forward to this event, not only to work with professional artists, but also to make new friends with common interests from other schools,” said Jayne Latta, the Young Artists Conference’s committee chair. “I think they have really missed this annual event.”
The 2022 conference was held on May 4 at Thompson Rivers University, with many workshops hosted in the university’s art studios. Students chose from a variety of sessions, including acrylic painting, graffiti art and needle work, with instruction from community professional artists and art educators.
The artwork was on display in the upstairs gallery at the Old Courthouse Cultural Centre downtown through May 7.
“The importance of working collaboratively together for the students and the opportunity to work with professional artists in person adds to, not only their artistic experience, but their overall learning experiences too,” said Janet McCloy, the school district’s co-ordinator of arts education.
Young artists, parents and school district brass attended the May 3 gallery exhibition, which included guest speaker and superintendent of schools Dr. Rhonda Nixon.
“As I visited young artists, going school to school, I was struck by the sheer passion for their work,” Nixon said. “They always expressed that they have joy, that doing art makes them feel joyful and they are absolutely inspired. Whether it’s a realistic painting of a scene, where there’s a special family holiday or a favourite puppy or a kitty, their eyes light up when they talk about their work.”
Roman Ziegler, a student at A.E. Perry elementary, stood beside to his painting, The Sorrow Queen, listening along with his parents. Presenting his art in the public eye was a new experience for the Grade 6 student.
Speaking to KTW, Roman said he did not know about the Young Artists Conference until a teacher recommended his artwork for the exhibition.
Roman said he drew a decaying queen “to give people a sense of being uncomfortable.”
“I was just feeling that way at the time when I was drawing it,” Roman said. “Art for me, most of the time, calms me down.”
Across the crowded gallery, Juniper Ridge elementary student Maya Eckerman posed for a photo while standing next to her scenic painting, which was bursting with colourful blue and green hues.
For the Grade 7 artist, painting reflects her deep love for the outdoors and provides her inspiration.
“I do lots of hiking and lots of camping, Maya said.
Her acrylic painting, Rushing Waters, was inspired by a hike she and a friend took to a waterfall near Sun Peaks.
“I often paint sceneries because nothing is perfect outside, so you can just paint from memory,” Maya said. “I find it’s fun.”
This year, more than 120 students from grades 4 to 7 were selected to represent their schools in the Young Artists Conference.
A selection committee reviewed a variety of two-dimensional artwork submitted and chose the following students’ artwork to be framed and hung in the school board office next year.
These students will also be presenting their pieces to the board of education on June 13:
Dallas Ellisay, Grade 4, South Sa-Hali
Louise Placente, Grade 4, Beattie
Mehar Ganghas, Grade 4, McGowan Park
Sanjana Poovaneswaran, Grade 4, Aberdeen
Brooklyn Fantuz, Grade 5, Rayleigh
Tysyn Ewalt, Grade 5, Westwold
Nya McLellan, Grade 5, Pacific Way
Ben Fan, Grade 5, Pacific Way
Mila Roberts, Grade 6, Sun Peaks
Karlie Sandhoff, Grade 6, R.L. Clemitson
Luca Petersen, Grade 6, Dallas
Avery Bahnsen, Grade 6, Lloyd George
Ryan Trudeau, Grade 7, Dufferin
Jenna Kansky, Grade 7, Juniper Ridge
Navaeh Tuft, Grade 7, Kamloops school of the arts
Kiera McGrath, Grade 7, Juniper Ridge
Honourable mentions: Anaya Fuoco, Grade 4, McGowan Park
Julia Long, Grade 5, Beattie
Elanie Ruberg, Grade 6, McGowan Park
Abby Shu, Grade 7, McGowan Park