Massimo Richers

Massimo Richers

Young Nanaimo artists expand their creative horizons

NANAIMO - The Nanaimo Art Gallery offers an immersive contemporary art program for young artists.

Young Nanaimo artists explored creative possibilities during an immersive contemporary art program offered by the Nanaimo Art Gallery.

The program, Dazzle Camouflage, ran from July 25 to Aug. 19 and ended with a pop-up art show Aug. 18-19 showcasing the young artists’ work in the gallery’s Art Lab.

There were 12 participants. They worked with professional artist mentors Brian Lye and Elizabeth Milton to learn about various disciplines including painting, video, drawing, photography, sculpture, performance, design and art curating.

“The artists who came really opened my eyes to what art can be,” said Sena Cleave, 16.

Participant Kelly Lee, 17, said it was a “wonderful” opportunity to play with different mediums and she enjoyed working among peers who were passionate about art.

“It inspired me a lot,” she said.

Young artists don’t get to be mentored by professional artists often, said Massimo Richers, 17, and the opportunity allowed him to “broaden his horizons” and create more diverse art forms.

He said the program is valuable and unique and the impact of the program on him was “life changing.”

He created an installation piece called Amorphous Cloud, which represented the dynamic nature of identity and people’s tendencies to hold onto past versions of themselves. His art piece challenges viewers to let go and embrace their shifting nature, according to his artist statement.

For participant Max Goering, 17, the program changed his perception about art. Goering traditionally created art through drawing or painting.

He said before the program he thought art had to be realistic representations with precise details, but he was able explore different styles.

He branched out from his usual creative outlets and made a plaster sculpture called Exo-skeleton for the exhibit. His piece explores the relationship between body parts and bones. He created an exposed wire framework under the plaster bones to support them and to symbolically remove the bones from their traditional use, according to his artist statement.

Yvonne Vander Kooi, art education coordinator for the Nanaimo Art Gallery, said the program helped the artists explore aspects of contemporary art and learn how to make their own personal statements through art.

“There are many ways to tell a story or tell something important to you,” she said.

She said the program has given the young artists a head start.

Each artist explored the theme of identity and perception and received a $300 honorarium.

The program was funded by the B.C. Arts Council.