Sena Cleave and Gloria Ober (from left) work on a piece for the Code Switching Pop-Up Show, the Nanaimo Art Gallery’s teen art group’s year-end exhibition. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)

Nanaimo Art Gallery’s Code Switching teen art group holds year end pop-up show

Exhibition begins with reception on Friday, May 25 and continues through the weekend

On a Saturday afternoon in the Nanaimo Art Gallery’s Art Lab studio space Gloria Ober is projecting shadows on a wall while Sena Cleave traces the shapes onto a sheet of paper.

The Nanaimo District Secondary School students are a part of the Nanaimo Art Gallery’s Code Switching teenage art collective and they’re getting ready for their year-end pop-up show in the Art Lab this weekend. This is Cleave and Ober’s first year in the program and they say it builds on the basics they learn in school.

“I like that it’s a space outside of school to work on art because traditionally it’s been, like, school, my bedroom, my kitchen table, maybe, but that’s it. It’s nice to have a different type of instruction,” Cleave said.

NAG art education co-ordinator Yvonne Vander Kooi said the members are dropping by the studio space more frequently than usual to get their independent and collaborative pieces done. The show will reflect the gallery’s current thematic inquiry, “How can we speak differently?”

“Some of the themes around that have to do with collections, taking a look at natural history, examining truth versus fiction and playing around with this history that we have around specimens collections, categorizing, labelling and having fun with that and turning it on its head a little bit,” Vander Kooi said.

“So they’re going to be playing with these ideas with their work using either photography, installation, sound, two-dimensional work or video projection.”

NDSS grad Hamish Hardie is at his seat flipping through back issues of the News Bulletin, clipping out and categorizing Beefs and Bouquets submissions. He’s planning to compile them into a book.

“I’m trying to create this character that’s going to edit and introduce the whole thing and try to draw these hack, far-flung connections to academia, like the significance of Beefs and Bouquets and how they’ve had this impact on sociology and psychology and the microcosmic implications of Nanaimo,” he explained.

He’s organizing the items by topic, like civic or personal complaints. Due to the number of entries on the subject, there is also a section on cats.

“I just really like the Beefs and Bouquets. They’re just, like, very petty. I like when people are trying to put as much venom as they can into this very PG format,” Hardie said.

“I just talk a lot about them with people. A surprising amount of people read them and share this interest in them. I don’t know if it’s a great way to look at or think about Nanaimo, like if it’s the most flattering, but I’m an avid reader.”

Like many Code members, Wellington Student Sydney Barudin’s first experience in NAG programming was its summer program, Dazzle Camouflage. She enrolled a couple years ago and called the experience “like the best thing I think I’ve ever done.”

“I was incredibly shy, especially when it came to art. I still kind of am but then getting to be around more people that enjoy art kind of opened a door,” she said, adding that Code has provided opportunities to experiment with different media and meet professional guest artists.

“Pretty much every artist that came in to talk to us always said how lucky we were to have a program like this … so I just felt really grateful to have something like this.”

WHAT’S ON… Code Switching Pop-Up Show opening reception at the Nanaimo Art Gallery on Friday, May 25 at 7 p.m. Show continues on Saturday, May 26 and Sunday, May 27 from noon to 5 p.m. Registration for Dazzle Camouflage is due by July 3 at 9 a.m.

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