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Reflections: Annual High School Exhibition

Reflections: Annual High School Exhibition

Featuring student work from Summerland Secondary, Princess Margaret and Penticton Secondary Schools.

Opening Reception May 19th from 7 - 9pm.


Once again the Penticton art Gallery is proud to host the annual local high school exhibition.  Sometimes it is easy to forget what it was like to be a teenager. This popular exhibition not only showcases the local emerging talent, of which there is lots, but also allows viewers much insight into the thinking, attitude and struggles of today’s young citizens.

Brad Gibson, visual art teacher at Princess Margaret writes, “I think “Reflections” is a more than appropriate name for this year’s show.  So much of what we do as we journey through creative processes requires action, but it also demands that students reflect on the triumphs and follies we encounter as we make art.  As we reflect, it is imperative that we recognize that mistakes are what allow us to grow with grace and confidence in the skills we are developing.  Young people are currently living in a technological age that produces fast results and a critical audience.  I want to encourage students to slow down, be reflective, be resilient and just simply enjoy being a creative problem solver.”

Similarly, Aleita Lloyd from Summerland reflects: “Creating art is a lifelong process of reflection and growth. This year my focus as a teacher has been to lead by example and encourage my students to reflect on their own work as well as the work of others. I want them to see their work not as just a project to complete at a given time, but as reflection of who they are, their community, their relationships, and issues important to them.

At times, this is difficult. Students’ ambitions sometimes outweigh their skill, and so they need to reflect on what they want to say, and then how they can say it best with the abilities they have, while at the same time pushing themselves technically. Reflection and time is necessary for this, and my projects were designed to allow the process to happen naturally. It has been a learning experience for me as well as my students, and I hope you enjoy the results of all our efforts.”

Penticton Secondary will showcase what all the students from grade 9 through 12 have been working on this year and have submitted multi-media pieces, sculptures, and drawing. In the Pen High Art studio students have been working on a variety of projects that have showcased how influenced we are by artists not only from the past but also in present day. The senior students chose an artist that they found particularly interesting and studied this artist in a variety of ways. Other students were given the task to complete an ink study with the theme of conflict. Many chose the topic of war as they have studied WW1 and WW2 in social studies and others looked closer to home or to the present day for their interpretation of the theme.

The title of this year’s annual high school exhibition suggests a strong connection to art history.  Mirrors and reflections are enormously important in art.  The mirror is a symbol of physical and spiritual reflection and has its roots in the very distant past. In Christian art, the mirror came to represent the eternal purity of the Virgin Mary. Gradually however the mirror came to be associated with the negative values suggested by the myth of Narcissus. Vanity and deception rather than truth and prudence were the connotations the mirror carried most often from the Renaissance onwards. Deceptive, the mirror is dishonest, a carrier of pure illusion. By coming full circle the symbolism associated with reflections somehow echoes the folly of man in that all things remain the same, that by coming full circle we never learn from our past and are doomed to repeat our mistakes. 

The Greek root for Plato’s word ‘idea’, eidos, literally means not just image or likeness but an image reflected in water or mirror. As I age, I look less and less at the mirror, afraid of the reflection and all it has become.  For high school students though, I believe “reflections” brings new meaning into the discussion about context and meaning of the word.  There is a freshness that permeates being young.  Unbridled by the layers of responsibilities life has in store, young people embark from high school with energy, ambition, and sometimes even anxiety.  By reflecting on their time at school and all they have learned and friends made, viewers of student art will get a refresher on being young and gain insight into the complexities young adults currently face.

There are three basic types of learning: visual learning, kinesthetic learning, and auditory learning.  Students remember information better and can better recall it when it is learned both visually and verbally.    That art has become the whipping boy for balancing budgets in education systems begs to ask some hard questions. When I began work here a quarter century ago, our Director talked about the many reports proving that an education in Arts actually brought up students grades in all other academic subjects.  Of course we were lamenting the artistic opportunities available for students, questioned the logic of axing art programs to meet ever tightening budgets, and as artists discussions get wound up, whether a conscience act to dumb down the general public was being undertaken.

Not all children find it easy to communicate their ideas through the written word, or enjoy writing; whereas art is a process in which students to problem solve and enable themselves to take risks with expression and techniques.   A fine arts education including music, theatre, drawing, painting, and sculpture has been a part of any well-rounded curriculum for decades but many schools today continue to cut back or eliminate art programs altogether due to budget constraints.  A cursory search of Google found these recent reports:

1) A 2002 report by the Arts Education Partnership revealed that schoolchildren exposed to drama, music and dance are often more proficient at reading, writing, and math.

2) A 2005 report by the Rand Corporation called “A Portrait of the Visual Arts” argues that art education does more than just give students a creative outlet. It can actually help connect them to the larger world, ultimately improving community cohesion.

3) A 2005 report by the Rand Corporation called “A Portrait of the Visual Arts” argues that art education does more than just give students a creative outlet. It can actually help connect them to the larger world, ultimately improving community cohesion.

4) The 2006 Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum study on art education showed a link between arts education and improved literacy skills.

5) The Center for Arts Education published a report in 2009 that suggests arts education may improve graduation rates.

6) A study of Missouri public schools in 2010 found that greater arts education led to fewer disciplinary infractions and higher attendance, graduation rates and test scores.

7) A 2011 study called “Reinvesting in Arts Education” found that integrating arts with other subjects can help raise achievement levels.

In “Neuroeducation: Learning, Arts and the Brain,” Johns Hopkins researchers shared findings showing that arts education can help rewire the brain in positive ways.
In October of 2008, then-Senator Obama released a powerful Platform in Support of the Arts. In it he argued for reinvesting in American arts education, and reinvigorating the creativity and innovation that has made his country great.  As much as we miss the last President elect, I won’t be holding out long for the American education system to suddenly re-embrace Arts in its race to “Greatdom”.  

Here in British Columbia we have the lowest level of support for the Arts in the entire country.  Kids growing up with an interest in the Arts know that it is a career impossible to pursue.  The oracle of Apollo at Delphi demanded of the ancient Greek to ‘know thyself,’ and mirrors have often been used as symbols of wisdom and self-knowledge.  I think that is what viewers will find in this exhibition, much personal exploration in a search to find themselves, or an identity, in an ever complex and difficult journey.


Earlier Event: March 17