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New exhibition puts the work of West Vancouver art teachers in the spotlight

Staying Curious is running at West Vancouver’s Ferry Building Gallery until Feb. 4
Staying Curious will run at West Vancouver’s Ferry Building Gallery until February. | Ferry Building Gallery

Putting the work of 12 West Vancouver art teachers on display, the latest exhibition to come to the Ferry Building Gallery, Staying Curious, aims to bridge the gap between student and instructor.

There’s a sort of role reversal at play with the teachers, often the ones to critique and comment on the work of others, having their own pieces under the spotlight, said participating artist Celan Bouillet.

“It’s important for students to know that their teachers are artists too,” she said. “We spend days in the studio making decisions, painting over things, trying again, exploring new topics, expanding our practices. That’s what it means to have an ‘art practice.’”

Bouillet will showcase two paintings from her most recent collection With Stardust in my Pocket, a set of fantastical landscapes inspired by the natural world.

Whimsical and playful, with them she hopes to showcase the true importance of staying curious, of exploring new ways of working and pushing individual practices into new territory. They also touch on the importance of play, she adds, an integral part of creation for students and teachers alike.

“I think the best work comes from accidents,” she said.

For artist Marina Ross, the exhibition serves as a reminder that learning, especially in the creative world, should never cease.

“I learn all sorts of things from my students in surprising ways, and also see from their different perspectives and unique approaches to life and art-making,” she said. “The inspiration happens both ways, and I think with this exhibition it’s neat that students will be able to see their instructor’s work and realize that they too overcome the same obstacles, challenges and breakthroughs when it comes to creating art.”

Ross said the theme of staying curious particularly resonates with her, as recently she has been exploring different approaches to art-making and what it means to create.

“Much of my current work stems from asking questions or being curious about different aspects of my surroundings, whether that’s human interactions or the relationships between species in the environment,” she said. “Examining things and asking questions is a crucial part of life for me, as both an instructor and a university student, because I aim to always be learning and unlearning things. It’s always a process and there’s never really a ‘finished’ state because there’s always more to explore.”

Both artists said they hope visitors will leave the Ferry Building Gallery feeling inspired, and, perhaps most importantly of all, imbued with a new sense of respect for the teachers and instructors that call the North Shore home.

“We know our instructors are strong teachers, but the show highlights the diverse skill sets that instructors can offer their students, and creates a space for open dialogue among artists and our community,” said Bouillet. “I hope visitors leave feeling inspired to create their own work, and know that there is no 'wrong' way to make art.”

Mina Kerr-Lazenby is the North Shore News’ Indigenous and civic affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.

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