What is kindness? And how do you interpret it on a canvas?
That was the three-week experiment last month between graphic artist and writer Joseph Bankier and 29 students in Kelly Selden's Art 10 class at Riverside secondary in Port Coquitlam.
The result from their joint project is an exhibit - called S.O.E.N.: The Seeds of Importance in Kindness to Self, Other, Environment and Nature - that opens tomorrow (Thursday) at the Leigh Square Community Arts Village and runs until June 27.
Selden said she got to know Bankier through Leigh Square's arts and culture co-ordinator Yvonne Chui, who last fall suggested Bankier work the Riverside students for the display. After a short discussion in March around the meaning of kindness, they set forth on their individual pieces after spring break and completed their art just before Easter.
Out of that assignment came perceptions about peace, understanding and positive traits in relationships - via acrylic paintings and mixed media forms, using such materials as sand, tissue paper and photos. As well, Selden said they were encouraged to add a quotation to their work.
Bankier started his kindness campaign the day after Sept. 11, 2001, when terrorists attacked the World Trade Centre in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington D.C., and a plane over Pennsylvania.
Kindness "is the ability to dream, and realize we all need it to grow," Bankier said, noting his trademark art brand has "evolved through a process of hardship, trials, suffering loss, grief and dedication to social change. When you believe, your faith in what you believe will be challenged."
Having the youth study social justice and, specifically, explore the topic of kindness with him "was really neat," Selden said. "They have gotten really involved and plan to hand out badges at the opening reception that describe kindness."
Teens from Port Coquitlam's Youth Services also took part in the art show, plucking ideas from the Random Acts of Kindness program.
The opening reception for S.O.E.N. is Thursday from 5 to 7 p.m. at Leigh Square (beside PoCo city hall). The artists will be in attendance.