Niverville High School celebrated their grade 11 and 12 art students with a hallway exhibit last week.

Tony Clark, an art teacher and project-based teacher at the school for the past 4 years, says the students are responsible for everything.

“They do their own PR. They do their own posters. They certainly do their own artwork. It's an art show, but even more so it's a show like, they are on display. But they don't quite realize that until a grown man is crying in front of them, looking at their art or, you know, somebody offers them a little bit of money or something, and they realize, oh, this is actually me.”

Clark says most of the students are in grade 12, though there were some grade 11’s. He talks about his students.

"Some of them would never have thought that they could do art that other people would enjoy looking at or even buying, and they think it's just their own little world. And then, as they try out different things, different media, it is their own guided experience, right? Like I don't tell them what to paint.”

Clark says he makes himself available to the students to guide them and make suggestions, but in the end, “I kind of liken it to, this is something you (the student) thought was impossible. So then, what else in your life do you think is impossible? And I encourage them, "Maybe you could give that a shot next is applying to different areas of life?”

Clark talks about the variety of art his students create. "We've got these giant plywood boards which end up going on the outside of the Centennial arena for a couple of years, which was a town of Niverville idea. They certainly use sculptures. So acrylic, clay, and we've got some broken glass and pretty much anything they want. Some kids were doing some needlework and create anything they to set their mind to.


Trinity Funk Niverville High School Art StudentTrinity Funk, Niverville High School Art Student with her exhibit

Art Student, Trinity Funk describes her style of art.

“So I kind of like the blurred effect, if you can tell. And I love doing people. I'm not a fan of doing faces, though, and It’s kind of just like has a different emotion to it, and I find that it's a way to let out emotions that you can't say.”

Funk describes a piece she titled “Reflection”

“That's my self-portrait, that my teacher told me I had to do this year. So, I took a picture of myself in the mirror and then decided to paint it.”

Funk says other peoples' reactions to her has been meaningful. “I've had some people say that they think that my work is beautiful, and I think that's actually like, so, so sweet. And then I've had someone else tell me what they think the meaning of another image is. To them it means, like cradling something or trying to pull something apart like what an insecurity would be. I thought it was very cool to hear other people's perspectives on the things that I paint.”

Funk explains what creating artwork means to her. “It’s kind of like relief. I mean, it's frustrating at times, obviously, when things don't go the way you want them to, but kind of like, you can release emotions that you like, can't really say, for me at least. Yeah, I am better at writing out words than I am speaking.”

Sam Hubert described a large art panel called “Good Fun” he and another student painted using different colors and splatters and textures.

“My friend Ava and I, we laid down on this big piece of plywood and had a bunch of friends come over, and we had water balloons filled with paint, and they all threw them."

Hubert admits he imagined it would have been more fun than it ended up being.  “Mostly because it was out of control, and then we were just getting pelted with wet paint, and it was kind of cold, and we made a really big mess in the school and then, I think, the principal was a bit freaked out about that, but we cleaned it all up.”


Edlyne, Niverville High School student with her art exhibitEdlyne, Niverville High School student with her art exhibit

Edlyne, describes her first painting of the year with the story of how Persephone, the Greek goddess of the underworld shed her maidenhood to become a powerful symbol. The emotion Edlyne describes the woman in the image is feeling a mix of regret and remorse.

“So, it's kind of about how when we're in bad situations, like being kidnapped in her case, we make bad decisions. So, she regrets eating that pomegranate seed because now she must be stuck there (underworld) for the rest of the year. But you can't really fault her because, when we're in bad situations, we make bad decisions all the time.  But she also has empathy for herself, like, “I had no other choice. I was hungry. I needed to eat.”

Edlyne’s second painting is an image of Themis, the Roman goddess of truth and justice in the way this young artist imagines she might look like today. “In my eyes, we kind of stripped her of her entire identity and in doing so, make her this poster-child for the American legal system.”

She says, now adays, rather than people fighting for the ones who have been wronged and seeing the goodness in people’s hearts, and being fair to a fault, “We strive for this perfect idea of justice through, you know, Lady Justice through Themis, through whatever, but it's impossible. At the end of the day, we are human, and that is to be flawed, and that is to have prejudices. And so, I think rather than aiming for this pure sense of justice, we should recognize the fact that as humans, our vision is inherently flawed. We can't have terrific justice.”

Edlyne adds, what we may have already suspected, “I've been an artist as long as I can hold a pencil, and this piece is especially meaningful to me because I want a future in politics.”

Niverville High School Art Instructor, Tony Clark shares a personal thought at the end of the exhibit.

“I thought art was a waste of time, when I was probably in my first few years of teaching, and then, as other people noticed something in me, I realized, “Oh, wait a minute, this can actually change people's lives.” It says 1000 words in one picture, and it is a huge way of communicating and connecting with people. So, I think if we all gave ourselves a little bit more time to look at something, and connect with another person through their art, we'd be better off.”

The Niverville High School Senior Art Show took place on Thursday, January 18, at the high school. 

With files from Corny Rempel