Many artists wait for years to see their work displayed in a gallery, but at TFS the Grade 12 IB (International Baccalaureate) art students don’t even have to wait until graduation: on March 26 they turned part of their school into a gallery for Vernissage, the North Toronto independent school’s annual art show.
“What do you think?” the students’ teacher, Vesna Markovic, asked visitors as she welcomed them into the school’s multi-purpose room, which had been divided into 19 themed galleries such as Cultural Bonds and Hidden Truths, each one representing a different student.
The work spanned a variety of media, including paintings, photographs and sculptures, which the students had been working on for two years.
“I strongly believe this is a very creative, hard-working group that has produced immensely original – and, I believe, very successful – work,” Markovic said.
Typical of an IB program, Markovic and her colleague, Kathleen Hatchell, don’t grade the students. Instead, each student films the work and sends it, along with a portion of their sketchbook, to evaluators as far away as London or New York City. There is also a written component, with students explaining the inspiration behind their chosen theme, how it developed over two years and why they chose the media they did.
North Toronto resident Maria Svirsky’s gallery, Public Display of Expression is Prohibited, was inspired by her connection to a less-fortunate part of the world: born in Canada, the 17-year-old Svirsky moved to Ukraine when she was 10 years old and lived there until she was 15. She knows first-hand the effects that living in a society where people lack the freedom to express themselves can have on someone.
“My theme is ironic, because as you can see, my artwork is very emotional,” she says while standing next to “Discolouration,” a painting that uses bright, bursting colours to create the outline of a frustrated human.
“It’s related to myself as a person, because I don’t tend to show my true emotions — I show it in my art,” she says.
Leaside resident Clara Chang’s gallery, Cultural Bonds, was also inspired by a trip, in her case to her father’s native South Korea. Her parents gave her a camera before the trip, and she was fascinated by the cultural symbols that surrounded her.
One of her favourite pieces is the Hanbok, a stylized red cloth sculpture inspired by traditional Korean dress.
North Toronto resident Hayley Pearson was inspired by one of photography’s hidden elements: the conversations — and occasionally, confessions — behind the scenes.
That led to a series of portraits of her classmates, More Than Meets The Eye, which she obscured with thick lines of honeycomb-like gel.
“It shows how you can only see part of who people are,” she says.
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