Yvonne Vander Kooi was recently named the new art education coordinator.

Yvonne Vander Kooi was recently named the new art education coordinator.

Painting connections

New Nanaimo Art Gallery art education coordinator wants to engage the community through creativity.

There will be a new face at the Nanaimo Art Gallery’s downtown location.

The gallery recently named Yvonne Vander Kooi as its new art education coordinator after the departure of Jennifer Van de Pol, who is now in Victoria.

Vander Kooi, a visual artist, painter and muralist, said she is hoping to conjure up more creative energy at the downtown location.

“I would like to think that I can bring some excitement and some activity to the downtown. It feels like such a great fit, because it is what I’ve been doing as a professional for a very long time,” she said.

On Saturday (Dec. 13) Vander Kooi will be leading the gallery’s upcoming Saturday Art Lab, titled A Wonderful Time of Year. Vander Kooi, who will be joined by instructors Jacqueline Yeo and Melissa Partee, will be teaching the students various print-making techniques.

“This coming Saturday we’re doing monoprints,” Vander Kooi said. “We’re … going to come up with some pretty colourful and festive imagery.”

Vander Kooi has been an artist and educator in Nanaimo for nearly two decades. Her murals and installations can be found at Pawson Gyro Park, Forest Drive Park, Deverill Square Park and Oliver Woods Park.

She has also worked with Bayview Elementary School as an educator.

“I’ve been involved in working with kids and adults for a long time,” she said.

Originally from Mississauga, Ont., Vander Kooi attended Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich., where she majored in visual art and minored in psychology.

As the new art education coordinator, Vander Kooi is hoping to forge connections between the Art Lab and the community.

“We would really like to find creative and innovative ways to connect with the community through the art education space,” she said. “Whether that is through workshops or using it as a venue for events, or bringing in professional artists to run workshops, as well as the Saturday studio for kids.”

Vander Kooi is excited to be part of the downtown gallery and hopes people take advantage of the programs that are being offered.

“I am just excited to be downtown in a great innovate spirit and I hope our programming matches that … I really want to welcome the public into our space,” she said.

Art Lab runs on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. Registration costs $12 per child or $18 for two siblings. To register, please call the gallery at 250-754-1750. For more information, please visit www.nanaimoartgallery.com.

arts@nanaimobulletin.comTwitter: @npescod