Bluewater District School Board

Bluewater's Emerging Artists Unmasked page

Emerging Artists Unmasked

Emerging Artists Unmasked
Posted on 12/15/2021
Student masks on display at Tom Thomson Art GallerySome amazing creations by senior art students at John Diefenbaker Senior School (JDSS) are on display as part of a youth-focused collaborative COVID-19 response project with the Tom Thomson Art Gallery.

Emerging Artists Unmasked explores and reflects on how safety protocols have transformed Canadian culture and personal styles by rendering mask wearing as a form of self-expression that articulates personal stories, cultural identities, and which unite us in the wake of the global health crisis.

The project is a collaboration between contemporary Canadian artist Don Kwan, currently featured in the Tom Thomson Art Gallery’s exhibition, Facing It, and JDSS students in Anne MacLaughlin’s Visual Arts class.  Through a series of virtual sessions, which included an artist talk and a global pandemic face mask workshop led by Kwan, students were invited to create their own masks.

There are currently on display over 20 compelling individual face mask creations that employ non-traditional materials, inspired by Kwan’s artwork, as well as the students’ lived experiences within the COVID-19 pandemic.  The project highlights our common desire for individual identity, while also alluding to the fact that we are all in this together.

Emerging Artists Unmasked is on display in the Tom Thomson Art Gallery’s Atrium until January 31, 2022.  Members of the public are invited to view these inspirational responses from youth, and to also contribute to this larger discussion by sharing personal experiences with the Tom Thomson Art Gallery.  There is also an opportunity for anyone to create their own global pandemic mask by visiting this link.

For more information, please contact Heather McLeese, Curator of Public Projects and Education at 519-376-1932, ext. 5006 or [email protected].

"My mask is about stagnation of time and continuity in periods where the world felt off-kilter.  There are buttons on the mask arranged in a broken timeline to show how the linear process of time feels disrupted; the buttons are wrapped with ideas that reflect this.  I have noticed that pre-COVID, a lot of our time was segmented into 14-day periods, such as the lending period for a library book or pay periods.  I saw that this concept remained the same, but the context shifted to suit the times.  Similarly, I included personal family photos of past decades and a more recent picture of my cousin with her grandfather, to show the passing of time has little effect on the dynamic of human nature; children still laugh and people still go on." – Zanné Stassen, JDSS student

“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it significant challenges, both socially and mentally to our secondary students.  The face mask has become a symbol of this pandemic.  Our senior art students embraced the task of using face masks as the basis of their major art project, which examined their reactions and feeling about the almost two-year pandemic.  The themes varied as well as the mediums used.  Students were allowed to choose their topic, either personal or global reaction, and translated these ideas to a visual form.

I am very proud of my students as they went way beyond the parameters of the project.  The artworks produced are both visually stunning and visually provoking.  The students want to challenge the viewers to look closely for hidden or not obvious meanings in their artwork.” – Anne MacLaughlin, JDSS Visual Arts Teacher

“My artwork is a response to the difficult times brought forth by the pandemic; dealing with isolation, loss, and the racism towards the Asian community that magnified during lockdown.  Working with the Tom Thomson (Art Gallery) on the current exhibition, Facing It, and facilitating an online Global Pandemic Workshop with Visual Arts Teacher Anne MacLaughlin’s JDSS students, reminded me of the power of art and how art continues to connect communities.” – Don Kwan, Canadian Contemporary Visual Artist

“This is an innovative and timely art project from the TOM, connecting youth and professional artists.  I look forward to seeing the inspiring face mask creations from our local students.” – Owen Sound Mayor Ian Boddy

“It has been so refreshing to connect this way again through art.  Sharing Don’s work with local students, learning about his practice, and creating a collaborative face mask art display has been a tremendous experience – evoking artistic vitality and personal reflection.  This is a must-see project, unmasking the lived experiences of our youth, their challenges, inspirations, and personal stories of perseverance during one of the most unexpected realities of our lifetime.  Thank you to Don Kwan, Anne McLaughlin, and her students at JDSS for this wonderful collaborative experience!” – Heather McLeese, Curator of Public Projects and Education

Source: Tom Thomson Art Gallery

Student masks on display at Tom Thomson Art GalleryDon Kwan with student masks on display at Tom Thomson Art GalleryGlobal pandemic mask with map of world
Student masks on display at Tom Thomson Art GalleryStudent mask with newspaper clippings and headlinesStudent mask with message, "To thine own self be true"
Student mask with button pinsStudent masks on display at Tom Thomson Art GalleryStudent mask with catch phrases and descriptive words capturing the pandemic
Student masks on display at Tom Thomson Art GalleryStudent masks on display at Tom Thomson Art GalleryStudent masks on display at Tom Thomson Art Gallery
Student designing their maskStudent mask with newspaper clippings and headlinesStudent masks on display at Tom Thomson Art Gallery
Student working on mask with newsprint designStudent gluing designs as part of mask-making projectLuncheon Special themed mask

Bluewater District School Board is located on the traditional land of the Saugeen Ojibway Nation, which is represented by the communities of Saugeen First Nation and Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation.
Website by SchoolMessenger Presence. © 2024 SchoolMessenger Corporation. All rights reserved.