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Through Our Students' Eyes: Annual High School Exhibition

Installation photos by Ron Marsh.

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. Thanks to our three regional high school art teachers; Shauna Reid at Penticton High School, Brad Gibson, at Princess Margaret and Aleita Lloyd at Summerland Secondary, for your inspiring leadership.

There’s no doubt that the arts are fun for kids. Diving into those finger paints and making a beautiful picture to hang on the fridge is awesome. Acting in a play is exhilarating. But the arts also help kids develop on many fundamental levels. Here are the top 10 ways that the arts help kids learn and grow:


1. Creativity. This may seem like a no-brainer, but the arts allow kids to express themselves better than math or science. As the Washington Post says, In an arts program, your child will be asked to recite a monologue in 6 different ways, create a painting that represents a memory, or compose a new rhythm to enhance a piece of music. If children have practice thinking creatively, it will come naturally to them now and in their future career.


2. Improved Academic Performance. The arts don’t just develop a child’s creativity—the skills they learn because of them spill over into academic achievement. PBS says, A report by Americans for the Arts states that young people who participate regularly in the arts (three hours a day on three days each week through one full year) are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement, to participate in a math and science fair or to win an award for writing an essay or poem than children who do not participate.


3. Motor Skills. This applies mostly to younger kids who do art or play an instrument. Simple things like holding a paintbrush and scribbling with a crayon are an important element to developing a child’s fine motor skills. According to the National Institutes of Health, developmental milestones around age three should include drawing a circle and beginning to use safety scissors. Around age four, children may be able to draw a square and begin cutting straight lines with scissors.


4. Confidence. While mastering a subject certainly builds a student’s confidence, there is something special about participating in the arts. Getting up on a stage and singing gives kids a chance to step outside their comfort zone. As they improve and see their own progress, their self-confidence will continue to grow.


5. Visual Learning. Especially for young kids, drawing, painting, and sculpting in art class help develop visual-spatial skills. Dr. Kerry Freedman, Head of Art and Design Education at Northern Illinois University says, Children need to know more about the world than just what they can learn through text and numbers. Art education teaches students how to interpret, criticize, and use visual information, and how to make choices based on it.


6. Decision Making. The arts strengthen problem solving and critical thinking skills. How do I express this feeling through my dance? How should I play this character? Learning how to make choices and decisions will certainly carry over into their education and other parts of life—as this is certainly a valuable skill in adulthood.


7. Perseverance. I know from personal experience that the arts can be challenging. When I was trying to learn and master the clarinet, there were many times when I became so frustrated that I wanted to quit. But I didn’t. After practicing hard, I learned that hard work and perseverance pay off. This mindset will certainly matter as they grow—especially during their career where they will likely be asked to continually develop new skills and work through difficult projects.


8. Focus. As you persevere through painting or singing or learning a part in a play, focus is imperative. And certainly focus is vital for studying and learning in class as well as doing a job later in life.


9. Collaboration. Many of the arts such as band, choir, and theater require kids to work together. They must share responsibility and compromise to achieve their common goal. Kids learn that their contribution to the group is integral to its success—even if they don’t have the solo or lead role.


10. Accountability. Just like collaboration, kids in the arts learn that they are accountable for their contributions to the group. If they drop the ball or mess up, they realize that it’s important to take responsibility for what they did. Mistakes are a part of life, and learning to accept them, fix them, and move on will serve kids well as they grow older.


Princess Margaret Secondary School Visual Art Program

Students in the Visual art program at Maggie started their school year with a very inspiring visit to the Penticton Art Gallery.  Seeing works by the likes of Jim Logan, Joseph Sanchez and Janice Iniskimaki Tanton gave us all lots to reflect upon as human beings.  I have always felt that it is one thing to share with students the importance of being exposed to a wide variety of materials and processes in which we can express ourselves creatively; but, it is also necessary to see how art can be used as a visual tool to create awareness about the wrongs of our past.  These three artists all brought a very powerful visual message that allowed for some very thoughtful discussions about a subject that has for the most part been avoided for many years.

As a part of the healing process for this first show, my students also had an opportunity to visit the gallery when the Monks from Tibet were here.  The incredible detail and patience these individuals displayed inspired my senior classes to produce their own Mandalas. Each drawing shared the same circle within a square format, but allowed each student an opportunity to visually portray their own unique stories about their lives.   

I stumbled upon some free wood in one of the local manufacturing plant dumpsters in the fall of 2017.  I thought this might be a nice alternative surface for students to use with painting this year. The students in the senior art classes were asked to allow for some part of the original grain of the wood to be left exposed within their composition.  Each student then used images that interested them in which to play around with smooth or rough painterly techniques. It is always great to see the wide variety of images and ways that students go about using the paint to produce interesting visual effects.  We called these paintings “Bored” paintings. Yes, a bad pun, but I like to remind the kids that in this time of technological distractions we can always pull ourselves out states of boredom by engaging in painterly processes!

It is hard to reinvent the wheel every year with projects so I decided to revisit the “Spirit Mask” project with the junior classes this year.  Students learned a variety of hand building techniques and approaches to creating masks out of clay. Each were encouraged to be original with their masks designs and given lots of opportunities to be playful with visual textures and colors in their final creations.

Also featured in this year’s show is a series of acrylic portraits by the junior classes.   Since I had plenty of free panels of wood left over from my dumpster days in the fall, I asked each student in the junior grades to choose a portrait image that inspired them.  Students then used some of our preliminary skill building techniques to develop the overall image by playing around with contrasting dark and light effects. I really enjoyed seeing the bold use of color and playful development of shapes that exist within the portrait images!

As always, I extend a huge thank you to the Penticton Art Gallery for giving the high school students in School District #67 an opportunity to showcase their skills and creativity in this annual year end show.   

Brad Gibson
Visual Art Teacher
Princess Margaret Secondary School


Penticton Secondary School Visual Arts Program

As always, it has been a busy year in the Art studio at Pen-High. The students are excited to be part of this show and display their hard work. I am a firm believer that continuing with Arts Education at the High School level helps students learn to creatively solve problems and persevere. Seeing a large project through to the end takes commitment and concentration which are skills our students will need as they grow into their adult lives.

Grade 9 and 10 students have looked to the masters, past and present, for inspiration. They have submitted vibrant oil pastel studies.

Senior students have been working on community projects this year and have chosen to submit watercolour paintings that were part of the marketing campaign for Cirque du Soleil Crystal when the show was in Penticton this spring. This was an exciting way for the students to learn about marketing and being able to talk about their work not only to their teacher and peers but also to the media.

As drawing is the backbone of most artistic endeavors the senior students have been working on their observation, composition, and technical drawing skills. Several graphite drawings will also be on display. 

We would like to thank the Penticton Art Gallery for allowing the students to show their work in this formal setting. They have worked hard this year and it is time to celebrate their artistic achievements.

Shauna Reid
Visual Art Teacher
Penticton Secondary


Summerland Secondary School Visual Arts Program

My main goal for my students is to instill in them the idea that they are all on an artistic journey. Whatever medium or technique they work in, I want them to understand that pursuing art is an ongoing learning experience. One successful, or unsuccessful project, or work of art, should not define one as an artist. It is the lifelong art practice of experimenting, improving on or learning new skills, and creating a conversation with the viewer, where one grows as an artist.

Many students (and adults, for that matter) have a mindset that you either are, or aren’t, an artist. My push back to that is: Is one born a writer, or scientist, or mathematician? There can be innate skill, but there are many artists for whom success did not come easily, and they had to put in many practice hours to hone their skill and find their creative voice. The new BC curriculum for Fine Arts really speaks to this idea of the artist growing through time. This means success and failure, and that each is rewarded for the effort and creative problem solving the individual undertook on their journey of art making.

The projects were designed to help students through this journey of skill building, developing creativity, and their own personal voice. Some projects had multiple processes, and others were simply for students to play and understand colour theory, or use of space. The student work represents only a part of who they are as an artist, and I’m excited for you to share in their experience.

Aleita Lloyd
Visual Arts Teacher
Summerland Secondary School

"Well done! So inspirational! Please keep showcasing youth art - so important!" - C. Barnes
"Very talented school kids" - E. Demas, Calgary
"Nice" - Brianna & Christian, Calgary
Earlier Event: May 18
Annual Art Auction - Sneak Peak!
Later Event: May 18
Skyler Punnett: In Sense