This year the Nanaimo Art Gallery’s youth art camp is being held online in the participants’ homes as well as in the gallery’s workshop space and the young artists will be exploring ideas around the private and the public in their upcoming exhibition.
Due to COVID-19, Dazzle Camouflage’s five teenage artists are spending their mornings meeting online using Zoom and doing work at home before convening at the NAG’s ArtLab studio to continue their programming in a physically distanced group setting.
“We’re negotiating inside and outside space and the movement between the two and how private becomes public and vice versa,” NAG education coordinator Yvonne Vander Kooi said. “So this idea, quite literally, that kids are Zooming from their private spaces and that becomes instantly public and navigating the space between the two, that tension.”
This year the students are creating a series of paintings guided by guest artist Bracken Hanuse Corlett of Wuikinuxv and Klahoose First Nations as well as a work of video art with Vancouver-based performance and media artist Elizabeth Milton, both mentoring the participants electronically.
Last week the youths wrapped up their first week of the camp working with Milton. With her guidance the students created small cardboard sets and filmed short scenes. Milton will then use Zoom’s multi-screen format to create a quilt-like “video collage.”
In one corner of the the room 15-year-old Ben James has characters cut of out of magazines exploring an empty landscape, while at the other end Meixi Scott, 18, has cut-out lightning bolts striking striking a clothesline.
“We’ve been working with drawing, collage and video and in some ways working with movement or animation, really DIY, lo-fi ideas of animation in the way that we’re almost puppeteering materials for the camera,” Milton said via Zoom.
This week the Dazzle Camouflage group is meeting with Hanuse Corlett to create a series of individual paintings that will be similarly displayed together to create a collage of their work.
“They’re individually working on things that have certain parameters,” Vander Kooi explained. “They have agency within that but because the parameters dictate some commonality … those are the things that will connect their work to each other so they won’t be these disparate pieces.”
On Aug. 20 the projects will be unveiled in a small in-person reception broadcast online. The paintings will be displayed at Diana Krall Plaza before being permanently installed downtown by the China Steps and the video will be played on a television monitor in the ArtLab window facing the street to be observed by passers-by.
Milton said she’s excited to see the students’ final work.
“I think for many of them working in a way where we don’t have a predetermined outcome is really new,” she said. “So their willingness to invest in the process and willing to experiment and just allow themselves to fail and try new things has been wonderful.”