The Nanaimo Art Gallery’s teen art group is presenting its final exhibition, and this year the artists’ collected works can be held in one’s hand.
This week the gallery’s youth program Code unveiled Code: A Collection of Youth Art, a 26-page colour magazine full of drawings, paintings, sculptures and writings by 11 local artists between the ages of 11 and 25. The works are by members of the NAG group and submissions were welcome from the community as well.
“We really wanted to give kids some sort of platform to be able to show off their work,” Code program co-ordinator Amber Morrison said. “There are not very many outlets for young artists in Nanaimo … so we were just looking for a way to be able to share and spotlight their work to the community.”
The artists were asked to create pieces that reflect the NAG’s ongoing thematic inquiry, ‘What moves?’ They then completed their work at home with minimal guidance from Morrison, who took the final pieces and put them together into a magazine.
“Normally we assist the youths quite a bit. We cultivate workshops and we bring in guest artists for them and we really try and work with them to develop the artwork,” Morrison said. “But this is many of them just working alone at home in their off time to create something. So that said, I’m just incredibly proud and impressed by what they’ve created.”
Code participant Solace Stuart, 15, said it was “really cool” to see her and her group’s work in the final magazine form. She has two items in the magazine: a collage composed of ripped-up maps and watercolours, and a painting of a girl beneath a sky lit by fireworks inspired by a playlist the Code group put together.
“It just made me think about light and celebration and lots of movement and colour,” she said.
Charles Hartnell, 18, has a painting of a Nanaimo street scene and a nude in the magazine. He’s a past participant of the NAG’s summer youth program Dazzle Camouflage currently studying virtually at Ontario College of Art and Design. He said the magazine is a good opportunity for young local artists to connect.
“Half the reason for making art work is to talk about it and bring people together,” Hartnell said. “And so this is why I was so excited to participate with this because it shows, No. 1, that young artists in Nanaimo are creating things and, 2, it’s something for us artists to show to other people.”
The magazine is an ongoing project and Morrison said more issues are coming in the new year. Submissions will again be open to the public, as the goal is to give young artists in the area a place to display their work and build their portfolios.
“Normally in Code we have exhibition opportunities for them. We don’t have those right now,” Morrison said. “Art Walk has been cancelled and we’re unsure about what’s going to happen moving forward into next year as well, so this magazine is a new form of an exhibition for them.”
Copies of Code: A Collection of Youth Art are available at the Nanaimo Art Gallery, 150 Commercial St. Morrison said the work will soon be available online as well.