The Fraser Cultural Centre in Tatamagouche kicked off its 2017 season with a Youth Art Show, featuring artwork from students from the village to Pugwash. George Klass photo

“Art is very much alive and well on the North Shore. We have students practicing the artistic techniques of Georgia O’Keeffe, Frida Kahlo, Maude Lewis and Ted Harrison,” said Lyn Sutherland, the curator of the Youth Art Show that ran for three days this month at the Fraser Cultural Centre in Tatamagouche.

The show, which opened what promises to be a very busy art season at the Fraser, highlighted the work of young artists from Tatamagouche to Pugwash.

“Kids are learning about colour, design techniques and artistic mediums and all this is taking place in the local schools under the guidance of extraordinarily committed teachers,” said Sutherland.

The Youth Art Show has been an annual event at the Fraser for going on 20 years, and is a chance for the community to enjoy the artwork of the upcoming generation.

“It is vital to give kids the opportunity to express themselves,” said Dan MacDonald, who attended the vernissage with two of his sons.

There is nothing quite so fresh and raw as youth art.

Gail Tuttle, curator at the Wallace and Area Museum and former director of the Grenfell Art Gallery at Memorial University, commented that art professors often mentioned they would be thrilled if their art students could paint with the guilelessness of children. She especially enjoyed the art made with melted crayons by the students at Tatamagouche Elementary.

“These have a vibrant energy,” she said.

The self-portraits presented by the Grade 3 and 4 students of Cyrus Eaton Elementary were stunning. Self-portraiture is one of the bravest forms of art. Working with photographs, carbon paper, permanent markers and watercolours, and under the direction of their teacher Jennifer Benjamin, these young students explored shape, technique and perspective in their work.

“I am very proud of my students,” she said.

Benjamin, who holds degrees from King’s College and Acadia University and a certificate in art education from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, has been teaching for about seven years. She confessed the self-portrait project was fun and that it evolved as it went along.

The show required much preparation. The Fraser needed to be cleaned and dusted for the summer season. Tatamagouche Elementary teachers and Fraser volunteers, Margaret Boyle, Lyn Sutherland and Joanna Hunt, hung the show, which filled all four galleries.