CHSS art students contribute pieces for Blyth Festival 10x10 sale
BY DENNY SCOTT
Twenty students from Central Huron Secondary School in Clinton are participating in this year’s 10x10 for 2022 Art Sale fundraiser for the Blyth Festival, and the pieces represent more than just the artists’ ambitions.
Julie Gillam, the art teacher at the high school, told The Citizen that having students take part in the auction is a means of teaching them a number of different lessons, including supporting the community, valuing their own work, helping them to find their voice and supporting mental health by promoting art in the community.
“We’re using the community and school to celebrate art, but also using it as a way for students to have their voice and get it out there and help with mental health,” she said in an interview with The Citizen.
Online learning and lockdowns associated with the COVID-19 pandemic proved to be a challenge for some students when they returned to the classroom, Gillam said, so she was looking for ways to get students involved in their community, once again. That includes activities of the past like the poster contests hosted by the Royal Canadian Legion and art projects like Clinton’s Artist’s Alley, as well as new options like the 10x10 sale.
While Gillam first looked at the project as an opportunity for some of her Grade 10 students, eventually, the approachability of the project saw more and more students get involved.
“It’s a win-win all around,” she said. “Students are learning, giving their artwork back to the community and donating for a good cause.”
Gillam said the project provided a unique opportunity to challenge students to think about what people would want to see and buy.
“We had to think about what people would want on their walls,” she said. “We talked about the needs of the community and what they might want to display, and how the role of the artist fit in with that.”
Gillam said students had to look differently on their art than if they were creating for social commentary or comparing their work to museum pieces.
The project also provided a chance for the students to realize that there is a financial value to the work they put into their art. Gillam said she tried to impress upon the students that the time they put in has a value and that would be reflected in the auction.
The final products provided by the students covered a variety of subject matters and moods, Gillam said.
“We had seasonal work, like pumpkins and ghosts,” she said, adding that didn’t surprise her because artists often work with what is around them. “We also had some students put a lot of thought into what people would find beautiful in Huron County. We had mountainscapes and other landscapes and a lighthouse.”
She said one other student decided to focus on a science fiction starship, which at first she was going to advise against, but then decided that if he enjoys that, there will be other people who enjoy it as well. She said it was among several she thought would be great for a child’s room.
Other pieces included a very intricate look at a subway station and nature through a painting of a duck.
Gillam said the project was a very good learning experience and she was excited to drop the work off the Blyth Festival last week.
Kelly McIntosh, the Audience Development Co-ordinator and Artistic Associate for the Festival, told The Citizen that the work is “incredible” and that the Blyth Festival was grateful to receive the submissions. She was very excited when she and Gillam first connected and was extremely happy with the result of the partnership.
The pieces will be on display online and up for auction as of Nov. 1, with the bidding closing on Dec. 1. For more information, visit blythfestival.com.