A new exhibition of original art by Sunshine Coast youth features invigorating authenticity and self-reflective themes.
The annual Young Artists Exhibition opened at Sechelt’s Sunshine Coast Arts Centre on Nov. 25. The show includes work by 63 painters, sketchers, sculptors and printmakers from the full length of the Coast.
One hundred and thirty artworks are exhibited alongside The Banner Project, a complementary initiative of the Sunshine Coast Arts Council. Students design prospective street banners, with compact rectangular illustrations grouped by school name.
For the first time in the project’s 28-year history, members of the public are being invited to help shortlist the images that will adorn Sechelt lamp standards in 2023.
“There is a huge range of styles, which you would expect,” said arts centre manager Eric Miller. Miller was hired into the newly-created role three months ago. “It’s thrilling to see what people are choosing to represent — portraits, abstracts, multimedia pieces. You see what they love, and you can see the influence of culture.”
A panel of three artistic luminaries from the Sunshine Coast review each Young Artists submission: Chatelech Secondary School art instructor Brett Jasch, District of Sechelt culture coordinator Siobhan Smith and muralist Bruce Edwards. Each contributor receives written feedback from the trio.
“This show is anti-curated,” added Miller. “It’s absolutely whatever these kids want to represent. There are a lot of repeating artists but I sense we get some new artists every year.”
The gallery space is filled with more than two-dimensional artwork. Mouse Maze, a cardboard and adhesive tape construction by Miyo Shinagawa, explores the postmodern pursuits of amusement, survival, and meaning. A clay and glaze creation by Quinn Jean, Love Bowl, is a heart-shaped vessel with a drain at its base, presumably to channel outworn affection. Douglas Staver contributed Doug’s Custom T — unassuming apparel until seen from the back, when it reveals a floral starburst.
Gibsons-based artist Salma Star Atoui, 15, has participated in the exhibition for eight years. Her oil pastel works Blinded Blossoming Beauty and I Saw You Screaming Like No One Could Hear appear alongside steampunk portraiture and manga-inspired headshots.
“There’s definitely a lot of emotion in my work,” said Atoui. “In one of the drawings, it’s about feeling calm and grounded within yourself and being okay with being seen by the world however you may look. In the other, it’s all about the output of emotion. There’s so much inside that you might as well just put it all out.”
The cultural topography of the Sunshine Coast, Atoui said, invites creativity. “I love living in a place where I can express my art and have other people express it with me. It’s really fun, and sometimes challenging, too.”
Large-scale acrylics by Kayla Evenson (Etarnia, Ettheria) and Ashley Bruce (AYLA) show enigmatic faces set against evocative landscapes. Digital art by Darwin Aho-Carroll raises existential questions in The Literal Incarnation of the Act of Not Being Alive. A pastel by Lucas Budd-Blake, Yodeling Girl, captures its subject in an ebullient outburst.
Street banner illustrations, which range from action-packed portrayals by Langdale Elementary to the placid meteorological scenes of Kinnikinnick Elementary, were inspired by the theme of Above + Below the Clouds. 20 designs selected by the public will be reproduced at full size by painter Christel Evers.
The Young Artists Exhibition and The Banner Project remain on display until Dec.16 at the Sunshine Coast Arts Centre. Browse to sunshinecoastartscouncil.com for details.