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Emerging artists express power of collaboration, contrasts

Shout Out! exhibition features works of local students. It's on at GPAG until March 29.
Artists Nova Hunter, Henry Labreche and Lulu Labreche are among over a hundred contributors to the Shout Out exhibition in Lower Gibsons.

More than 160 works by young artists blaze with imagination at the Gibsons Public Art Gallery’s newly-opened Shout Out! exhibition, which is the first instance of the annual series to engage a student curator. The show includes paintings, sketches, textile fabrications and sculptures. 

At a public reception on March 11, gallery president Leslie Thomson highlighted the diversity of submissions and their creators, who range from two to 17 years of age. “We celebrate and thank all the Sunshine Coast youth artists for their wonderful creativity and energy,” Thomson said. “And special thanks also to the parents, caregivers and teachers for their support.” 

Athena Qureshi, a Grade 12 student at Elphinstone Secondary School, served as curator for the exhibition. She also submitted an original piece of digital art: Unplantable, a tritone portrait of a demonic rocker in the throes of anthemic ecstasy. 

Qureshi, who first participated in the show as an artist 10 years ago, worked longside gallery director Stewart Stinson and gallery assistant Ingrid Hansen to organize and install the artworks. 

“It’s a long, internal process,” said Qureshi. “It was kind of overwhelming at times. I’ve never been around that much art before, but it was a gorgeous experience. There are a few darker themes here and there, which is kind of my jam. There are abstract collages, classroom and community-based, that were a joy to see. There’s a deep love for creation that I sense in this space.” 

A trio of Grade Four students from Wildwood Learning, an outdoor school in Roberts Creek, gathered to appraise their class’s collaborative submission titled Doodle World. Isla Burton, Marcelle Encinas and Ruby Stanlake contributed designs to the amalgam of sketches that depict complex interplay between creatures. 

“I want people to enjoy it and think that it’s beautiful,” said Encinas. “And to feel happy,” added Burton. Stanlake stressed that every student added distinct, recognizable elements to the image, which resolves into abstract splashes of colour when viewed from a distance. 

Subtle optimism permeates many of the works. Dragon portraits by students at Cedar Grove Elementary maximize the mythical beast’s affability. Nine-year-old Blake’s Grass/Fire Dragon pictures a genial lizard in a pastoral setting. A series of chalk pastels depict insects (including Scorpion, by Torin, and Rhinoceros Beetle, by Josiah) as appealing geometries suffused with sunset hues. 

Animal subjects are interpreted in a variety of styles, ranging from seven-year-old Hazel Nova Smith’s stylized acrylic Meow Meow to teenaged Owen Bichler’s A Fox and a Rabbit, at once a study of predatory pursuit and a richly-mottled landscape. Ivy Suffron anthropomorphizes the landscape itself in Earth’s Heart, a sanguine vision of a tree festooned with a human capillary system. 

Henry Labreche, who is 10 years old, created a three-dimensional origami installation titled Spring and Summer. “Originally I was going to do a forest scene that was all white,” he said, “but with this I kind of want to show people one season and the coming season at the same time.” 

Unexpected convergence is a hallmark of other works like Minsu Dodge’s The Observer, a mixed-media image of a timeworn tree implanted with a wary eye. Aaliyah Barbaro’s acrylic-and-ink The Lovers unites two skeletons locked in a  bony embrace. Fern Chancellor’s A Soft Brunch uses felted wool to create bacon and eggs sizzling in a skillet. 

In her watercolour Nova’s Fox, seven-year-old Nova Hunter shows the bushy-tailed animal prowling through a stand of dramatically-disproportionate conifers. “I made three big trees and one little tree,” Hunter said, “to show that it’s okay to be small.” 

The Shout Out exhibition continues at the Gibsons Public Art Gallery until March 29. For details, browse to