Art students at Peter Skene Ogden Secondary unveiled a challenging project this week aimed at anti-racism and inclusivity.
The fourth annual Raven Youth Art Show sought submissions from Grade 11 and 12 students incorporating the theme of racism, hate, community and youth culture. Hosted and facilitated by the Cariboo Family Enrichment Centre’s youth program, the project proved difficult for many of the young artists, according to PSO art teacher Lianne Heales.
“They had to do a few days of just brainstorming which was probably one of the biggest challenges,” Heales said. “This year, I suggested that they start with a phrase or a word that they could work off of.”
What resulted was 17 unique pieces created in a variety of mediums that captured different perspectives on racism, inclusion and equality, with phrases such as “Everyone is Welcome,” “History is Colourful” and “Let Equality Flourish.”
Students were able to incorporate aspects of their own personal interests, such as popular video games or their favourite sports, to represent their perspective of racism and inequality.
During Tuesday’s presentation – which included pizza lunch and ice cream – the majority of the group agreed that coming up with an idea relevant to the topic was a challenge.
Cassandra Emile, however, said she knew right away what she wanted to create, using her own experiences with racism as a guide.
The 18-year-old member of the Canim Lake Band was asked to be the featured speaker for the exhibit, where she discussed her own experiences facing racism as an Indigenous youth.
“I have always been proud of my culture and the colour of my skin, but I have also felt like the odd one out,” Emile said, noting that she had been followed in stores and told that Indigenous people don’t pay taxes.
“I have always dealt with racism, I won’t ever stop dealing with racism.”
Her two pieces in the exhibit highlight residential school abuse and the Every Child Matters movement.
CFEC youth support worker Emma Cockram said that although there were fewer submissions this year than in the past, the quality of artwork was impressive.
“It was so nice to see a variety of different topics within the theme and some strong artistry as well, which was really nice,” Cockram said.
The artwork is currently available to view on a virtual gallery – the link is posted on the Raven Youth Activity Centre Facebook page – and will be online for at least a month.
Students who took part will receive a participation prize including some new art supplies, while the top three submissions will be selected by the youth support team and awarded additional prizes.