Young, budding talents are getting a taste of life as professional artists this weekend.
Twenty Oilfields High School students are bringing their artistic creations into the public light in a fine arts exhibition at the Bluerock Gallery Jan. 17 to 19.
Among them is Grade 11 student Tice Kehler, who is eager to put his art on display for the public to see.
“It’s going to be cool to get feedback on what to improve on,” he said.
Kehler is working on a mixed media piece using ink, paint and markers on three canvases, inspired by street and pop artists he follows on Instagram.
“I enjoy their work,” he said. “Many of them have many takes and styles, which is fun to experiment with.”
Nervous about putting her creation on public display for the first time is Grade 11 student Payton Herrmann.
“I’ve always been really nervous when other people see my art because I’m always worried about the judgment,” she said. “At the same time, it’s what I created and I always feel proud of it.”
The idea for the exhibition arose from discussions between art teacher Pam Pracic and Bluerock Gallery owner Tarek Nemr.
Pracic has been bringing her junior and senior high art students to the Bluerock Gallery each semester to admire local and international art. The idea of hosting a senior high exhibition began to take shape last year.
“I have some really, really talented students that their stuff isn’t seen by the community,” she said. “I wanted to give the kids an opportunity to step up their game and really challenge them to put out high-level work.”
Pracic said it’s an opportunity for her students to experience being professional artists.
“I really want them to have the opportunity, even if they never do it again, to see their stuff in an art gallery,” she said. “It’s an experience that you can’t replicate in any other setting. Maybe I’ll see one of my kids' artwork in the future hanging in the Bluerock Gallery.”
Pracic tasked the students to choose an art movement or artist they studied in class and take the skills they learned over the semester to produce either one large piece or three pieces that work together.
“There is no restriction on mediums,” she said. “I’m more concerned about them showcasing their skills rather than following a specific format.”
Since giving the assignment, Pracic said the students have taken it on with enthusiasm.
“Their commitment level is so much higher knowing it’s going to be viewed by the public,” she said. “They’ve been taking this project quite seriously. It’s wonderful to see them so motivated at the opportunity to display their work.”
The exhibition not only gives students recognition for their talents and a sense of pride, but also encourages them to put themselves out there, said Pracic.
Nemr said he’s glad to give the students that opportunity.
“It’s always on my mind, how can I support new artists, emerging artists,” he said. “The idea of supporting a maker right in school, that might create a path for them or inspire them to be an artist in the future. I thought it would be wonderful if you can inspire someone that way.”
Nemr said he sees a lot of potential amongst the students.
“I think that Oilfields is doing a wonderful job when it comes to the students,” he said. “I’ve been to a few of their shows and they are really doing a great job. We live in an artsy area so to have such a school that is supporting the arts is wonderful.
“Some day we might see them as established artists in the gallery.”