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Photos: SD43's Grade 12 art students show in Emerging Talent 26

Check out the artwork of Grade 12 students at Place des Arts in Coquitlam; the exhibit is up until March 14, 2024.

If you want an idea of what teenagers in the Tri-Cities are thinking about these days, you can tour the main gallery at Coquitlam’s Place des Arts.

Last Friday, Jan. 19, the Maillardville hub launched the 26th iteration of Emerging Talent, an annual exhibition featuring the work of top Grade 12 students in School District 43 (SD43).

Judges Sherida Charles, a retired art teacher from Centennial Secondary; Robyn Croft, an art teacher at Gleneagle Secondary; and Place des Arts’ Kim Correia, the fine and performing arts and exhibitions programmer, studied dozens of entries to select pieces.

And works from 26 students at Centennial, Dr. Charles Best, Gleneagle, Port Moody, Riverside and Terry Fox secondaries were chosen for this year’s show that ends March 14.

In an interview with the Tri-City News on Thursday, Jan. 25, six student artists talked about their paintings, pencil crayon drawings, digital enhancements and other mediums that are being highlighted in the Atrium Gallery.

They also spoke about what it’s like to have their artwork displayed in a public gallery and what they plan to do after graduation in June.

Here’s a summary of what they said:

Fangxu “Sunny” Gong - Gleneagle

Gong sketched and painted as a child in China. When he and his family immigrated to Canada, when Gong was 11, he continued with his artistic creations while leaning toward a future in science. In Emerging Talent 26, Gong submitted an oil painting called “Sunrise at the Port” — an image of Venice based off his friend’s photo of the famous Italian city — as well as “Sunny and Newton in the Math Room” — based on a point-and-shoot image his friend snapped while Gong was in math class. Gong recently reinterpreted the photo using a ballpoint pen. Gong, who hopes to get into the University of Waterloo to study engineering, said he’s proud of his art work. “I’m very surprised that my art got chosen for the show,” he said. “I think it’s my last chance to spend a little time on my art as I’m going to be so busy with engineering.”

Rainna Baverstock - Gleneagle

“Propitious,” “Adroit” and “Baleful” are the titles of Baverstock’s triptych of ravens, a bird she admires. Baverstock said she connected with ravens in the mountains of B.C. during her trips to Saskatchewan with her family, where they have a home. “Ravens are so interesting,” she said. “I really admire them. I like to feed them.” Baverstock, who plans to get a design degree from the Alberta University of the Arts, in Calgary, used a scratchboard for her ravens medium to capture their textures and details. Using an Exacto knife, she carved into the black top to reveal her birds. “I did a lot of experimenting with this,” she said, noting each took about 15 hours to create. “It’s nice to see the form without too much busyness or colour.” As for exhibiting her work in a public place, Baverstock said she feels the pressure. “You don’t just create art for yourself.”

Victoria Mundell - Gleneagle

For three weeks during class last May, Mundell created “Truest Love.” The assignment, under Visual Art 11 art teacher Angela Stevens, was to draw/paint a portrait of someone who provides inspiration and to include one of their quotes. Mundell chose a content creator she had been following for years on YouTube and through a podcast: Maddie Dragsbaek, a Brooklyn resident and CEO of Lover Girls USA who professes body positivity and self-love. “She tells her own stories and what she says means a lot to me,” Mundell said. On her multi-media piece, Mundell provide Dragsbaek’s words: The Love I Desire Exists Because I Exist. “It’s mantra that helped me a lot when I was struggling,” Mundell said. “Especially growing and going through relationships in high school, it can be sad.” The 17-year-old student, who plans to study interior design at KPU, used colour pencil and photocopied paper to give her piece a collage look, with faded or hidden messages behind Dragsbaek. Art, she said, is my passion … and it’s so cool to see it up at Place des Arts. It makes me feel so professional. All the Emerging Talent art is incredible and I’m getting lots of ideas.”

Eugene Lee - PMSS

For Lee, “Veiled Fervour” and “Couch Potato” represent her true self. The former is a watercolour piece that uncovers her passionate and sometimes angry side. “Most people see me as a very introverted and quiet person,” she said. “But I used red and warm colours here to show something new to the viewers.” Her self-portrait includes a heart on her sleeve, to highlight her emotions when she makes decisions, while the bird, centipede and spider for her facial features are for her love for the environment (she recently became a birdwatcher). But for “Couch Potato,” the coloured pencil drawing depicts a dream of being eaten and sucked into a sofa. “It’s a fear of staying in your comfort zone for too long, which can be deteriorating to your life,” she said. Lee plans to study graphic design for marketing at Capilano University or KPU after graduation in June.

Joey Ye - PMSS

Ye, 17, has three images in Emerging Talent 12: "Through the Frame," "Departure" and "Concrete Jungle” — each of them in a different medium. For the first, the student used an internet photo of a window open to a waterfront view to create an acrylic painting. In “Departure,” the artist remembers exactly where and when the image was taken: at the Vancouver International Airport on June 17, 2023, while travelling to Boston to study. Airports, Ye said, are curious places that “serve only one purpose: a holding tank for people to come and go to different destinations.” But, for “Concrete Jungle,” Ye employs acrylic and oil paints to juxtapose nature with decaying urban settings. The lion looks out to the viewer, who in turn is studying the painting. “I was fascinated by the term ‘concrete jungle,’ Ye said of the piece created a year ago. “I put in junk yard cars to give it a deteriorating feeling.” Ye is planning a career in engineering.

Choya Chan - PMSS

“It’s my vent piece,” said Chan of “Pointless?” her mixed-media self-portrait that was created in Grade 10 when she was feeling overwhelmed. “It was at a point in my life when I had to do everything but I felt like I wanted to do nothing.” The 18-year-old student, who has applied to Emily Carr University of Art + Design, Capilano University and the Vancouver Film School with plans to become a concept artist, said she layered her mediums to create a kind of “messy” design. “It’s a reminder of when I was stuck, like in a freeze frame.” And showing it in a public gallery is very meaningful, she said. While looking around at her fellow Grade 12er’s work, “I feel very inspired and will try the techniques and compositions they used.”

Emerging Talent 26 artists

Centennial Secondary

Dr. Charles Best Secondary

Gleneagle Secondary

Port Moody Secondary

Riverside Secondary

Terry Fox Secondary