Looking for a way to represent local youth in an exhibit, Lennox and Addington County Museum and Archives curator JoAnne Himmelman went right to the source: students from Ernestown Secondary School.
The result is a unique art exhibit titled Through Our Eyes: Experiences That Shape Us. The showcase will feature 27 original works of art created and curated by the teen artists. Set to debut June 1, the launch will include an opening reception at 6:30 p.m., accompanied by live music from the Ernestown Secondary School band.
“I have teenagers at home and I’m constantly trying to get into their psyche,” said Himmelman. “Through the last couple of years of COVID, I’ve realized that my kids have something to say and often the adults around them ignore them, or talk over them, or push them aside and basically equate it to non-importance. Through COVID, nothing shone more to me than that idea that my kids are going through an incredible amount of trauma, dealing with the shutdowns, the lockdowns and not being with their friends and their whole world shutting down because of art being taken away and sports being taken away and school being taken away.”
Himmelman wanted the museum to be a vehicle for teens to express themselves. To that end, they’ve been given free reign of the museum’s gallery. They will be in charge of staging their artwork and sharing any information they feel helps to tell the story behind their work.
“I work in a fabulous museum and I tell stories all the time, but I’m missing the stories of the youth,” said Himmelman. “I need to get the youth engaged with what we do. To give them space, to give them a place where they know they can speak and feel safe and tell their story, whatever that is.”
The exhibit will feature the art of Kailee John, Joslyn Richer, Veronika Nesich, William Jugloff, Sam Petigrew, Ezra McKinlay, Paige Rogers, Sarah Fraser and Holly Williams.
ESS’ Visual Art and Photography teacher Sara Cond Flower has overseen the project, but by in large the creativity has been left to the students.
“The students are working fairly independently and we try to check in at lunches with how things are progressing and just make decisions about what information needs to shared in preparation of the show”, said Cond Flower. “The overall consensus is that it’s a pretty exciting opportunity, especially being from a small school, that we were invited to participate.”
The students were given the simple direction to create something that represents their experiences, be in past or present, and to show how it has impacted their future. The rest was up to them.
All told the exhibit will feature the work of nine students from Grades 9 through 12. They’ll feature a wide range of mediums from digital art, graphite, pencil crayons, acrylic paint, watercolours and more.
The exhibit will be on display throughout the summer.