Selkirk College's Kootenay Studio Arts Shifts Year-End Showcase Online
In a world turned upside-down due to the pandemic, Selkirk College students in Kootenay Studio Arts (KSA) programs are bringing the beauty of their burgeoning talents to an online audience for the annual Year End Show & Sale.
A June tradition that has filled Nelson’s downtown Victoria Street Campus with lovers of art and craft, current restrictions on public gatherings has required a shift. Now playing on the Selkirk College School of the Arts website, students in the Textiles Studio, Ceramics Studio, and Blacksmithing/Bronze Casting Studio are presenting an online showcase that brings together photographs of individual pieces, bios on the makers, and contact information for purchasing one-of-a-kind items.
“People want to look at art and we have been really hard at work creating pieces that are super important to us,” says Textiles Studio student Lucy Carver-Brennan. “In a year like we have just had, we were able to put blinders on and really focus. It was a special experience, so getting to share that with the community is really vital. Whether it is online or in-person, getting to bring people together through art and craft is an important way to end our year.”
Carver-Brennan grew up in Nelson and attended her first year of post-secondary at the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design (NSCAD) where she was in the initial year of undergraduate studies when COVID-19 put a screeching halt on her progress in March 2020. When she discovered over the summer that Kootenay Studio Arts programs would be delivered in person, Carver-Brennan stayed home to work on building her skills and growing her talent in textiles.
“I would have never done this program were it not for COVID, so it’s a spectacular turn-of-events that led me back to a program that I had always eyed when I was growing up in Nelson,” says Carver-Brennan. “This program has saved my sanity. Through the depths of winter, it was an incredible experience to come in person for the whole day to learn and work with a bunch of amazing mediums.”
Discovering New Talents in Blacksmith Studio
Blacksmithing/Bronze Casting Studio student Haley Arbour arrived to Nelson from the Yukon this past September after hearing about a little arts school in the West Kootenay that offered an opportunity to forge talents. Drawn to the program with an intent to learn basic “backwoodsy” skills, she has expanded her outlook over the last 10 months.
“My initial interest was gaining the ability to make hand tools, but once I arrived here it opened a whole different realm,” says Arbour. “The blacksmithing world is much bigger than I thought it was and getting to be in a hub of metal artists like Nelson is beyond what I expected.”
Returning to formal learning after a decade-long absence required a leap of faith, but any challenges Arbour had was quickly replaced by enthusiasm.
“I’m so grateful to be here and have this opportunity,” Arbour says. “I have not been to school for ten years, but the teaching that I received has opened my eyes. When you have a mentor like [Blacksmith program instructor] Kevin Kratz, it opens up so many doors to creativity.”