By Sue Tiffin
Published June 5 2018
Excited artists many showing their work in a public art gallery space for the first time mingled with family and friends at the Rails End Gallery opening reception on May 25 of Out Of The Blue the Haliburton Highlands Secondary School Portfolio Class Exhibition.
HHSS art students host the annual exhibition with a different theme each year chosen by students. This year’s theme Out Of The Blue was interpreted by student artists in a variety of ways.
“It’s all very diverse” said Karen Gervais HHSS art teacher. “When we finally came to hang it I was thinking how are we ever going to make this all come together because there were so many different styles and scales but I think working with the students they helped to install the exhibition and help with the flow of the works to tell their stories. I think it’s really exciting the way some of them interact together.”
The ongoing project is a great community partnership according to Gervais who said the students were able to challenge themselves to new levels and that students learned how they are unified as a group even though they are so different.
Kara Barry wrote that her inspiration for an acrylic outdoor scene on campus literally came “out of the blue” when she was helping to collect sap fell back in the snow and looked up to see blue sky and trees. Madison Stoneham wrote of lakeside visits where she “would come up with the most random ideas that would literally come out of the blue.” In her piece she said she has contrasted fantasy with reality with light bulbs in a tree representing ideas she used to have as a child.
Alicia Villamere who created Breaking Through said she took her work to “a meaningful place about life. To me coming ‘out of the blue’ means coming out of the dark and sad places in your life and looking on and breaking through that wall of obstacles that are holding you back from being happy and successful … I see myself in this painting and I only hope to break through that wall and find that state of total happiness.”
Zack Williams’s water-based marker on paper piece entitled Tribulation of Apprehension made strong use of the colour blue.
“In this work the figure is seen emerging from a blue landscape” he wrote in his artist statement. “He appears to be screaming and reaching outwards in emotional torment. This illustrates the subject’s attempt to escape his own feelings of sadness despair and all others which are associated with feeling ‘blue.’ However the figure remains composed of similar shapes/colours showing how we are made of and rely on our own contrasting thoughts as we simultaneously wish to escape them.”
“When they said the theme Out Of The Blue I took it emotionally instead of the colour” she said. “I thought the blueness of your life and the darkness and depression. I wanted to show that in a way of how he’s coming out of the blue of his life. I used the marble to represent the blueness and the yellow represents the goodness of his life the bottom is mixing the good and the bad. A roar shakes you into such terror that it turns you into something beautiful and so he’s coming into more of the beauty of his life.”
“For this piece I stylized a photo by Suren Manvelyan of a fish eye” she said. “It was a long process of painting drying and painting again. Throughout the creation it was hard to tell how it would turn out. I layered pouring medium on top of the acrylic paint to create the glass-like cover over the image. I embraced the unexpected incorporating the mysterious results into the overall effect of the previous layers.”
“I think it’s excellent” she said. “I just am so amazed at what they do in all the schools here. For being a first time it’s amazing. I’m so thrilled to see them able to exhibit it in a public space rather than just the high school. I’ve got no artistic ability but I love seeing what other people can do.”
Out Of The Blue runs in the Main Gallery at Rails End Gallery and Arts Centre until June 16.
Nicole Cox painted a roaring lion. ”A lion symbolizes strength leadership and courage: those are all things you need to have in order to break out of the blueness of your life” reads her statement.
“I took mine more symbolically so I just wanted the fish to represent something personal for me” said Ashley Ackerblade of her work depicting a fish jumping from the water. “Not only is it leaving the blue of the water but it’s also leaving its comfort of its own home essentially coming out of the blue out of the shell to come and basically just experience something new.”
“Everyone has their own mind own imagination own sense of creativity” said Cox. “I like how everyone took a different approach to it.”
“Everyone incorporated their own style and technique in a really unique way” added Ackerblade. “I think all the artists statements connect to who they are personally.”
“The fish will swim and break the surface of the water and experience something new and then return safely to where it belongs” reads Ackerblade’s artist statement. “Seems pretty simple right? Well for people there are many obstacles one could encounter when trying something new. As a result we may never try for the fear that something wrong may happen. This fish not only represents the decision of trying something new but also that we should all try and be more like the fish.”
Freya Moran’s piece Watching Paint Dry drew much attention.
Moran’s grandmother Ann McIvor said she thoroughly enjoyed the show which she thoughtfully took in studying each of the almost 20 pieces in the exhibition.
Sam Steffensen’s piece Know Me Better is acrylic on wood panel and is a self-portrait.“Although I have a passion for portraits I had always avoided drawing myself” reads her artist statement. “For this project I was forced to take a look at myself. I was pushed to see all the details I never admired before. And I’m glad I was. I saw marks I never had before. The small freckles on my nose; the way my eyes are slightly uneven; the small moles I have all over. Doing this drawing I got to know me better. I got to love me better.”
Steffensen taking in the show with Paydon Miscio said she wasn’t nervous about the opening despite sharing so much in her artwork. “I was pretty excited” she said. “I love the experience. I love when people look at my art it’s just really awesome that feeling that you get to create art for other people.”
The exhibition is presented with support from Trillium Lakelands District School Board Vista Signs and Haliburton Rotary.