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Students Create Illuminations with Local First Nations Artist

GNSGNS photo
Studio Art 11 and 12 students have wrapped up their recent projects. The students created illuminations that have been placed in the art classroom. However, before they started, they had a special visit from Namgis First Nations artist Jamin Zuroski

Zuroski has been practicing and working with a variety of artists, community members, organizations, businesses, schools, Friendship Centres and governments on different cultural projects and initiatives. He’s worked with many mediums like cedar wood carving, cedar and glass sandblasting, mural painting, canvas painting, chalk, computer graphics and Indigenous Illuminations.

Before the winter break, Zuroski joined the class to talk about community and art, and discussed three regional artists famous to Vancouver Island: Rande Cook, Kwakwakwa’wakw artist; Butch Dick, Coast Salish artist; and Art Thompson, Nuu-chah-nulth and Cowichan artist. 

“It was super cool to share my teachings on the first day, and give that introduction space to say ‘This is another pathway and medium that can be used to share your ideas and stories,’” said Zuroski. “Building that foundation and letting them hit the ground running was great.” 

After the first visit with Zuroski, students went to the drawing board to create the illuminations that tell their stories. 

“They did a great job,” said Zuroski, who was present when the students were installing their project, and he heard their artist statements. 

“You can tell the depth of where some stories are just now being talked about through this art. It might not be talked about in other areas of life, so this could be that outlet for them and I think that’s what art is all about–is having an outlet to share what you are thinking and where your thoughts are.” 

The students came up with unique ways to tell multiple different stories, including using butterflies, rocket ships, waves and a rose. 

Taylor Leong ’21 titled her piece “Flourishing” as she was inspired by Zuroski. 

“This piece was inspired by a local Namgis First Nations artist, Jamin Zuroski. I was initially intrigued by the fundamental shapes that Jamin taught us. I liked how all the pieces seemed to fit together like a puzzle and I wanted to embrace this effect when it came to forming my piece. In the process of reflecting on our ‘Big Idea,’ I resonated with the concept of personal growth. With further exploration, I know I wanted to incorporate butterflies and flowers into my piece. By connecting these two symbols, my goal was to illustrate a sense of growth and transformation.

For Sophie Dunkley ’21, choosing to title her piece “Internal Flow” allowed her to use illumination as a way to explore possibilities. 

“When creating my art piece I wanted to explore what the flow state means in our minds,” she wrote in her statement. “I tried to capture this by using a variety of fluid and abstract shapes that come together to form an entire state of being. The moon cycle around the being represents the unknown passing of time whilst in the flow state. The brain inside the being is a circular spiral that signifies a continuum of movement despite being still. I also wanted to recreate the sensation of low by having the beings ‘melt into each other’ a metaphor for the physical state meeting with the mind.” 

As the illuminations were installed in the classrooms, Zuroski had some parting advice for the budding artists  as he encouraged them to explore and continue to share their stories and ideas. 

“Every day we are always going to be presented with different opportunities whether it’s an obstacle or a successful pathway to go down,” he said. “So, continue to work with mentors or get support from others, not always feeling like you are on your own when you create, you can always ask for support and guidance.”