New exhibition celebrates budding artists

Art Club members from left, Ashaunti Bodden, Shante Barrett, Chrisonique Taylor and Tianna Hurlston.

A new exhibition featuring work from young artists from across the Cayman Islands opened to a packed house last week.

At the launch on May 31, visitors and artists had the opportunity to mingle and admire more than 162 pieces in a cross-section of styles that make up the “Tomorrow Land” exhibition of student artwork from six Walkers Art Clubs. The after-school art clubs, now in their 11th year, have more than 300 participants ranging from preschoolers to high school students, including young people with special needs.

Instructors include Monica Powery, Simone Scott, David Bridgeman, Sarah McDougall and Chris Mann.

Through a combination of hands-on instruction and individual experimentation with art foundation principles, art club participants learn techniques, art history, self-confidence and how to form and articulate opinions about the work they are creating. In addition to individual art projects, students work collaboratively on projects that connect participants to one another across sociocultural divides and encourage them to appreciate the unique abilities of their peers.

“Visitors can expect to see many creative and colorful pieces by students, including drawings, paintings, chalk art, crafts, collage, mixed media, thatch work, masks and a host of installations,” said curator Candace Welcome.

“We will be showcasing installations of sea creatures, human figures, junk art and even a large rocket ship.”

She explained that she and instructor Monica Powery devised the rocket ship as a group project.

“In the first stages, we made a plan to design the body of the rocket ship based on Randy Chollette’s piece in the ‘Native Sons’ exhibition called ‘Love Is.’ We achieved this by drawing an illustration of the rocket ship and listing all the materials which we used over the year to complete it,” said Ms. Welcome.

“During class, we divided the tasks into three groups, making sure that each activity allowed the toddlers to participate with the help of their parents or guardians. This activity continued for two lessons, and for the first time in the pre-schoolers’ program this year, the kids were engaged in learning to create with a team of other little ones. This was a perfect way to teach the kids the value of teamwork and how to appreciate each child’s unique mark.”

Walkers senior partner Mark Lewis noted that Walkers has worked closely with the National Gallery on a variety of children’s arts initiatives since 2002.

“The Walkers Art Club is a creative, engaging, and accessible after-school program which enables students of different age groups from both public and private schools to meet and interact over art,” he said.

“We are immensely proud of the program and delighted to be invited to open the third annual Walkers Art Club exhibition, [and] we are looking forward to seeing the inspiring array of artwork on display and witnessing firsthand the remarkable talent of Cayman’s young artists.”

Numerous accolades from parents and teachers of children taking part in the clubs reflect the positive impact the program is having on the lives of the participants, especially in allowing them express themselves in alternative ways, and by giving them access to art instruction that is otherwise out of reach.

“As we aim to develop talent and nurture creativity at the National Gallery, we look forward to watching students from the Walkers Art Clubs pursue further qualifications in the arts and to becoming our creative innovators of tomorrow,” said the gallery’s operations and programs manager, Tanya Whiteside.

“We commend Walkers for their long-term commitment to this program and are grateful for their ongoing support,” said gallery director, Natalie Urquhart.

The “Tomorrow Land” exhibition runs until June 15.