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March 08, 2022

Innisfil, Ontario

By: Kira H., Gianluca V.

Every year, Nantyr Shores grade 12 students have the opportunity to have their art displayed at the MacLaren Art Gallery in downtown Barrie. Ten student pieces are chosen from each visual art class by their teachers, which are then chosen by a selected jury of local artists, from Barrie, before being handed to a gallery currorator who holds the final vote on whether or not the pieces will be displayed in McLaren.

This year nine grade 12 students were chosen; Alyssa Johnstone, Amber Fowler, Andrew Schubert, Doran Stephan, Lauren McKay, Madison Nybog, Maggie Rouselle, Shiriya Firth, and Natalie Betts. Each student had an outstanding art piece, some even having two be displayed in the McLaren Art Gallery.

All students were chosen by Mrs.Taylor, Nantyr Shores visual arts teacher. We interviewed Mrs.Taylor to get her opinion on nine of her students having their art displayed in an art gallery. She had known most students from grade 9 and has been able to see their art improve over their years at Nantyr.

“Seeing them get to that stage in grade 12, I’m very proud of them. I see their confidence going up and improvement in their work. I am really proud of their individual success and of them representing our school.” She stated during an interveiw, “ This is the ultimate reassurance for them that their art is good.”

Many of the nine students had used the past two years of the pandemic as inspiration for their pieces, they also drew inspiration from their background. One student, Shiriya Firth, was “inspired by [her] indigenous heritage and the generational trauma in [her] family” for her art pieces.

Other students, like Alyssa Johnstone, wanted to create a piece that other people could relate to, “especially students who are struggling to find motivation during this overwhelming time.” It inspired her to make the theme of her two pieces of the loss of motivation, feeling that the topic was important enough to include in her artwork as it is a common struggle.

Another student, Amber Fowler, wanted to do a piece on the loneliness she had felt during the pandemic over the past two years. She “felt very isolated and trapped inside because of the lockdown” and wanting to represent her bottled up feeling during those times, she took her journal that she drew in during the pandemic and put them into a bottle which she then set on fire. She wanted to show trying to let her feelings out, even while she was trying to keep them in.

Amber Fowler did a second piece, also focusing around loneliness felt during the pandemic. Her medium changed between the two pieces, from contemporary to digital.

One student, Madison Nybog, drew inspiration from events in her life from the past four years and “drew inspiration from [her] emotions revolving around these events.” Her piece expressed deep rooted emotions and “is a form of soft power that no person will ever be able to take away.”

Another student, Natalie Betts, did a piece with masks showing different emotions, representing how “[She] has always hidden who [she] was from people, so with [her] art piece she took masks and represented a different feeling in each one, showing how you’re masking yourself. It was inspired by [her] and how [she] used to feel.”

Their art pieces will be displayed in the MacLaren Art Gallery from March 7th to March 28th. See the rest of the collection in person at the MacLaren Art Center.

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