From armed invasion to the spread of COVID — these troubling times are explored in weighty spring exhibitions by young central Alberta artists.
Under Pressure is a show of drawings and paintings by first- and second-year visual arts students at Red Deer Polytechnic. These juried works can be seen from March 26 to April 20 at the Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery.
The title is indicative of how many young people are feeling right now, said Robin Lambert, chair of visual arts at the polytechnic. He knows many students are socially aware.
Although viewers will see the usual range of portraits, figure drawings and still-lifes exhibited, they could notice COVID masks cropping up both on the painted subjects and in the background of some works.
Some art will be metaphoric— such as the menacing acrylic painting of a large wolf with a hare in its mouth, by student Lailey Newton. It’s on the Under Pressure exhibit poster.
Lambert noted in-person visual arts classes were held at RDP throughout the pandemic, with physical distancing between easels. Students were masked and often their models were too.
Having lived through the pandemic, many of these young people are now concerned about another global event that’s out of their control — the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“Students don’t work in a vacuum… A lot of things are going on in the world, and their work (illustrates) what the world feels like,” from their perspective, added Lambert.
He believes some students of Ukraine heritage are especially plugged into the news. There’s also an international student from Ukraine enrolled in visual arts at RDP, said Lambert, who noted those particularly affected were informed about available counselling services.
It may have helped some to worked out their thoughts on paper or canvas. As a result, Lambert feels this year’s art selection will be weightier than past exhibits. “It will be interesting to see…”
Another, smaller, student art exhibition will be held in Lacombe from March 30 to April 15. Uncharted Terrain will feature works by 10 second-year RDP art students at the Lacombe Performing Arts Centre.