By Arts Editor, Doreen Jung. The students at École Clearbrook Elementary explored and shared their cultures in “Brush Strokes with Susan” with Artist-in-Residence, Susan McCallum. During a four week period, 460 students created multi-media watercolours, culminating with art exhibitions at the Clearbrook Library, The Reach Gallery & Museum, the Abbotsford School Board Office, and at École Clearbrook Elementary.
Cover Art: My Brother’s Happiness by Jesica Bhairon
Jasica Bhairon is in grade 5. She created her painting, “My Brother’s Happiness” to illustrate a ritual from India’s Rakhi Festival. This was a cultural tradition that her family celebrates. Explaining how the bracelet in her art was used, she said, “On Rakhri Day, sisters tie a thread on their brothers’ wrist for their happiness and long life.”
A professional artist, illustrator, and teacher, McCallum has a deep passion for self-expression through art and loves to share her enthusiasm with her students. “She has a natural gift in which she can inspire and challenge students,” said teacher, May Chan. “Students were encouraged to be creative in their ‘way of seeing’ their artwork.”
Grade 2 student, Ashton Gouttin loves to paint and then to look for something in the colours.
He described the process of creating his “Broccoli and Potatoes” picture. “I just painted a random thing. Then I saw broccoli and potatoes so I decided to call it “Broccoli and Potatoes”.
Students were taught drawing, sketching and painting. They painted watercolours with no images in mind.
Then they looked into the colours and thought about images relating to their culture.
They had discussions about culture and how important the land is to one’s culture.
“My background is German,” said Sophie Olsen who is in grade 5.
“I was at home looking through some books and thinking about doing my painting. I saw pictures of folk dancing.
I talked to my Mom and asked her if it was a good idea to paint the two dresses.
She said it was, so I painted the dresses for my art.”
Grade 2 student, Michael Donohue had planned to paint a hawk.
When he started painting, he realized the colours were wrong for it.
“I changed it into a kelp forest and added two seals and a dolphin,” shared Michael.
“I used salt to change the paint and that is how I got a kelp forest.”
“There was a real, open sharing of cultural exchanges with the groups of children,” said McCallum. “It was very evident in their paintings.” Learn more about artist, Susan McCallum at www.susanmccallum.com.
The multi-media watercolor exhibits were created as part of École Clearbrook Elementary’s project, “Honoring Our School’s Cultures. The project was funded by ArtStarts in Schools (provided by BC Arts Council and the Province of BC) and the PAC.