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A group of talented young artists from Sisler High School will have the thrill of showcasing their work for an international audience this October.
Working in the challenging medium of soapstone, nine Sisler students submitted pieces to appear in the Tallinn, Estonia triennial art exhibition known as Eksperimenta! The student sculptures were based on the exhibition's 2017 theme of Art and the Economy; the sculptures were later used as video subjects in an animated short that further explored that theme.
The students were originally approached by the University of Manitoba's Faculty of Education (under the leadership of Joanna Black and in association with the Winnipeg Art Gallery) to submit their work to the exhibition. The patrons' initial instincts paid off, as the students' work excelled in three levels of judging—regional, national and international—to be among the few pieces chosen for the exhibit. Sisler will send one student and a teacher delegate to Estonia to represent the school.
"People around the world submitted artwork for this exhibition," Mr. Thwaites said. "These students not only have a sense of accomplishment and recognition locally, nationally and internationally…it also gives them a broader sense of an artistic community. There's an international art scene out there that they are now a part of."
Mr. Thwaites added he is always trying to encourage students to move outside of their comfort zones and exhibit their artwork publicly. In recent years, his students' work has been exhibited at locations such as Ace Art, the Centennial Concert Hall and Artlington Studios.
"It's good to get students out into the community, it broadens their horizons," he said. "And it's a nice, low-key way to have exposure. It's their work that's getting the attention…the artist doesn't have to be in the spotlight."
Former Sisler students Aaron Legaspi and Ellina Pe Benito, who were among the group that worked on the Eksperimenta project in the 2016-17 school year, said it was a rewarding experience.
"It's kind of surreal," Ellina said. "I never thought my artwork would get anywhere; I just didn't think I was good enough or that anyone would recognize it. So it's such a great opportunity to have it judged Canada-wide and internationally."
The duo co-created a sculpture together, entitled End Beyond Hindsight.
"Our piece was more abstract and symbolic," Ellina said. "It represented how economy can control art, and how sometimes economics can hide art away from the world."
The artists noted that soapstone is an expensive medium to work in, so it tied in well with the theme of the exhibition.
"Soapstone and other fine art supplies can be quite expensive, so it's another way that economics can limit art," Aaron said.
Both students plan to continue creating art. Ellina is taking fine arts at the University of Manitoba, while Aaron works on his artistic skills in his free time.
"This project was the last major one we got to do at Sisler, so it was nice to see it go somewhere," Aaron said.