An art series aiming to foster new relationships between new and longtime Rupertites is preparing for its exhibit later this week.
The Prince Rupert Community Art Project, which was funded by the North Coast Immigrant and Multicultural Services Society and Embrace BC, consisted of a number of workshops where participants created art revolving around a theme of diversity. The pieces created will be shown off this weekend at the exhibit, taking place the Lester Centre of the Arts.
“People who are new to town that could’ve come from somewhere else in Canada, or across the ocean. But we’re all part of the community. I think [the project] fulfilled the goal of helping to bring people together. There’s been some friendships formed,” Lynn Cociani, who coordinated the series of workshops, said.
Cociani was pleased to see the theme reflected so differently in both the workshops, and with the pieces themselves.
“Everything was so diverse, which is really symbolic of what the whole series was about.”
The first workshop was held in late-January, with facilitator Adrienne Johnston guiding participants through the creation of fabric squares that when pieced together by Debra Strand created an enormous quilt.
“[Johnston’s] idea was to work with houses because it’s something we all have in common, but the houses we live in are different,” said Cociani.
Next was a collage and painting workshop led by Joan Mostad.
“She worked with people’s old photos and did an exploration of participants history and what was meaningful to them historically,” Cociani said.
Then came Nicole Best Rudderham’s workshop that had people practice their drawing skills before going on to paint a wooden box with their choice of design to represent a personal journey.
“It could’ve been a journey where you use to live to where you live now, it could’ve been an emotional journey or metaphorical journey. It was really just about an aspect of your own personal journey,” Cociani said.
“Nicole is very much about fostering your idea. She’s into guiding you through what your vision is.”
Shortly after, Mike Ambach and Arianne Loranger-Saindon facilitated a workshop on collaging.
“They focused on telling a story with images … sometimes images can tell a more powerful story than words can,” explained Cociani.
“People brought in their images of things and parts of their lives that they found meaningful and put together a collage that told a story of some aspect of their life.”
Products from a sixth workshop will be included in the exhibit, with Prince Rupert photographer Tyler Meers joining the project mid-way. Meers went into “English as a Second Language” at Northwest Community College to teach a lesson on photography and helped students create a self-portrait.
Meers took a photo of each person, and with the skills they learned participants took photos to create a background, which they could also incorporate family or other photos into.
“It was meant to be a narrative self-portrait. Although there is a picture of them, it’s also telling a story about who they are and what’s important to them,” Cociani said.
“They all picked a Prince Rupert back drop, which I thought was neat. I really like the connection to Prince Rupert that seems to be very apparent in these portraits.”
Cociani said that every piece of art included in the exhibit is unique.
“It was really interesting to see with all of the workshops how people take a common theme but everybody has a completely different take on it. In the end, you’ve got an enormous variety of approaches,” she said.
The exhibit will take place on Friday, March 21 which is the International Day for the Eradication of Racial Discrimination, from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Lester Centre of the Arts.
Art pieces created during the workshops will be displayed, along with artist biographies. There will also be live music, international cuisine and beverages.
The event is free to attend.