It was just after Valentine’s Day when Brielle Chan got a challenge.
The art teacher at Riverside secondary, Jacquelyn Collins, assigned her class a project in which only recyclable goods could be used.
At home, the Grade 11 student searched for ideas and found plenty of Hersey Kiss candy wrappers left over from the Feb. 14 celebration of love.
Using a cardboard backing as her canvas, Chan glued the colourful tin foil coverings into the shape of two lips.
Her piece — simply titled Kiss — is one of dozens of student creations on show in the Michael Wright Art Gallery as part of the first-ever visual arts display by Port Coquitlam’s two high schools.
The joint exhibit with Terry Fox secondary represents the best class artwork of the year, said Collins who organized the inaugural event with Fox art instructor Olga Dodic and Nikki Hillman, recreation program assistant (arts and culture) with the city of PoCo.
Called Imaginings, it includes a diverse range of media from “trash art” and paintings to ceramics and 3D sculptures, broaching such subjects as body awareness, environmental destruction and teen perceptions.
Callie Lanes, another Grade 11 student at Riverside, designed a clay head of a fictional dying person — painted in blue, complete with eyelashes and earrings — for her piece, Share My Story.
Lanes wanted to draw attention to the “addiction” of social media, painting an orange label with the Comments, Likes and Followers symbols on the person’s forehead.
“The message is people shouldn’t be playing on their phones,” she said, “because they’re missing out on the best things in life.”
A high use of social media can also lead to mental health issues, added Lanes who plans to study First Nations art after graduating.
Sophia Ng’s ceramics work, Hand by Hand, pushes the young artist out of her comfort zone, she admits.
Usually steering clear from art depicting body parts, Ng designed a hand with its fingers stretched out. “I thought the hand would be the least judgmental thing I could make,” she said.
Ng said she appreciates having her peers’ artwork displayed in a public venue as it gives them much-needed exposure.
And as a former Terry Fox secondary student, “I can now see how all my friend’s art has improved since I moved over to Riverside.”
“It’s was really an honour to be invited,” said Michelle Hong, a Grade 12 student at Fox, who has two pieces in the show including one with Korean elements.
Added Juli Christina Song, who also graduates next month from Fox: “This show feels like the beginning for me for my career. I’m going to take a gap year then apply to Concordia University to study ceramics and this exhibit helps to build up my portfolio and showcase my talent.”
SEE THE SHOW
Imaginings runs until June 25 in the Michael Wright Art Gallery in the Gathering Place at Leigh Square Community Arts Village (beside PoCo city hall). Admission is free. Call 604-927-8440 or visit portcoquitlam.ca/leighsquare.