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Nanaimo Art Gallery resumes fully in-person programming as restrictions ease

Dazzle Camouflage youth art immersion summer program seeking applications
Nanaimo Art Gallery art education co-ordinator Yvonne Vander Kooi addresses Dazzle Camouflage members Tori Djakovic, Teagan MacLean and Eila and Asuka King (from right) in the gallery’s ArtLab studio. (Photo courtesy Sean Fenzl)

After a year that saw Nanaimo Art Gallery youth programs split between in-studio and at-home learning, the NAG’s summer art immersion program is welcoming youths back into the gallery for good.

Aspiring local artists age 15 to 19 have until July 13 to apply to Dazzle Camouflage, which will take place from Aug. 3 to 19. NAG art education coordinator Yvonne Vander Kooi said the loosening of indoor gathering restrictions is “great news” for the program and its participants.

“Last year when I ran Dazzle I did a hybrid model of in-person and online and the kids really loved the in-person component and we found that did work best,” she said. “But we only had six kids that we could fit safely in the space.”

This year Vander Kooi is expecting to have 10 teens in the program, which will run for three weeks with a different guest artist working with the youths each week. Their projects will relate the NAG’s current thematic inquiry ‘What is progress?’ as well as the exhibition that will be on display in the main gallery at the time, the group ceramic show We Do Not Work Alone.

“We’re going to be really jumping off of that exhibition in terms of ideas and themes and the inquiry, as well,” Vander Kooi said. “So I think a bit of a focus around sculpture, found objects, ceramics, clay. And drawing, illustrative work as well.”

So far confirmed visiting artists are Nanaimo sculptors Jesse Gray and Sandy Harquail. Gray has been a part of Dazzle Camouflage in the past. She’s also taught adult and children classes at the NAG and participated in its artists in schools program.

“My work is mainly at this point based in working with found materials and salvaged things. Trash, things like that,” Gray said. “So [I’ll be] bringing those kinds of considerations into the classroom and thinking about sculpture and the language of sculpture and assemblage.”

As COVID-19 restrictions continue to ease, Vander Kooi is anticipating being able to welcome the public to a Dazzle Camouflage final exhibition for the first time since 2019.

“I hope for it to be in-person if all things go well and we will have some kind of exhibition here in ArtLab and invite the community and the families involved to attend,” she said.

For more information and to register, click here.

With the NAG able to welcome more visitors, it will also be hosting an in-person closing ceremony for its current exhibition, Reluctant Offerings, on July 10 from 4 to 6 p.m.

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