Applications are open for the Nanaimo Art Gallery’s Dazzle Camouflage teen art camp. Participants will get to work with visiting contemporary artists. Last year’s group worked with Vancouver artist Elizabeth Milton (right). (Photo courtesy Artlab)

Applications now open for Nanaimo Art Gallery’s summer art camp

Dazzle Camouflage aims to introduce teenagers to contemporary art

The Nanaimo Art Gallery’s Dazzle Camouflage intensive teen summer contemporary art camp is back for its fifth year and one of its inaugural participants is returning in a leadership role.

Jacob Burgoyne-King was 16 years old when he attended the first Dazzle Camouflage in 2015. Although he had done a lot of art growing up and studied it in high school, contemporary art was still a bit of an unknown.

“More of what my history and practice was was traditional,” Burgoyne-King said. “And so being able to open up my abilities into contemporary art with a lot of different media, it really helped develop a lot of my different skills in multiple ways in traditional art and beyond.”

After his time with Dazzle Camouflage Burgoyne-King went on to take part in the gallery’s Code Switching teen art group, which runs during the school year.

This summer he’ll be working as an assistant to art education coordinator Yvonne Vander Kooi to help support this year’s batch of young artists.

“Having personal experience in the program myself, I have lots of different ways where I can help engage and help them interact with the program and … approach different concepts and ideas,” Burgoyne-King said.

The NAG is now welcoming applications for this year’s edition of Dazzle Camouflage. Youths age 15 to 19 from Nanaimo and the surrounding area have until July 9 at 9 a.m. to submit a portfolio and application letter to the gallery. The free program runs weekdays from Aug. 6 to 30 and the 12 selected participants receive a $200 honourarium upon completion.

“We’re really looking for young people that are creative, curious and able to commit,” Vander Kooi said.

This year’s program will reference the NAG’s current thematic inquiry, “What are Generations?,” and its next exhibition, Estuary. Vander Kooi said participants will have opportunities to work with and learn from some of the artists in that show, like Charlotte Zhang, a Dazzle Camouflage alumna who is now attending the California Institute of the Arts.

Vander Kooi said she encourages anyone with any questions about the program to reach out to her. She said applicants shouldn’t feel intimidated about submitting a portfolio or learning about and creating contemporary art in a gallery setting. She said she strives to make it fun and accessible.

“I think there is a little bit of that, ‘Well, maybe I’m not going to know enough,’ or, ‘Maybe I’m out of the loop,’” Vander Kooi said. “But the whole idea is that we really want to share this wonderful work and the artists and things that are happening in the art world today.”

Burgoyne-King said he’s looking forward to helping introduce the participants to contemporary art just like he was four years ago. He said it’s like “coming full circle.”

“It’s really kind of astounding,” he said. “And I think it’s really cool for them to see that this is where some started and now they’re working at the art gallery and it does have an impact on their life because it has had a huge impact on mine.”

Click here for more information on program guidelines and how to apply for Dazzle Camouflage. Yvonne Vander Kooi can be reached at

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