To understand the significance of a day like this, you need to know that the class of 30 was made up of high priority kids with multi-cultural backgrounds. They came from nine different schools from Rexdale and surrounding area to explore a world into which they normally would not have access.
The grade seven visual arts day started off at the Art Gallery of Ontario where the students met with AGO educator Zavette Quadros, who toured the students through galleries of 20th Century artwork. The students observed selected works of Pablo Picasso to understand Cubism followed by Franz Klein’s abstract expressionist works. The works of Norval Morriseau offered insight into a different aspect of Canada’s history, as the students began to explore Aboriginal art as a window into learning about Aboriginal culture and history. With a focus on nature, the students were then introduced to the works of the Group of Seven, where the Canadian landscape and beauty of nature was central to each work. Throughout the morning, the students were given sketch pads to use so that they could sketch shapes inspired by the paintings.
In the afternoon, they went to the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto. Mi’kmaq artist and Lead Artist-Teacher of DAREarts First Roots Aboriginal Program, Cathy Elliott, introduced the students to elements of traditional Aboriginal culture, including the Four Directions, utilizing the DARE (Discipline/East, Action/South, Responsibility/West and Excellence/North) values, and the works of the Woodland School and the Aboriginal Group of Seven.
Cathy Elliott: “It was a pleasure for DAREarts teachers to acknowledge that this forty year old Indigenous Canadian group not only put Aboriginal art on the map, (Introducing Norval Morriseau to the art world) but that they demanded and got respect for their works. DAREarts was able to convey the international importance of this collective to the students”
For their own art creations, the students used inspiration from the shapes and lines in Aboriginal art alongside the landscapes of the Group of Seven to create mixed media pieces informed by their own individual identities. They simplified the shapes to create beautiful dreamscapes, with the understanding that Aboriginal art is a form of prayer and reflection with a reverence for nature.
At the end of the day, two students stood out: Shout outs to Lashaiya for her bravery and participation on her first day, and to Jamin for his responsibility and for sharing his critical thinking and observations with the class!
Thank you once again to the AGO for an inspiring morning of art and history. Chi-miigwetch to the Native Canadian Centre for a warm welcome and much appreciated partnership with DAREarts. Here’s to more Learning Circles in the near future!
DAREarts acknowledges the support of: our lead sponsor, Northbridge Insurance, BMO Financial Group, Guy Carpenter, Scotiabank, CIBC Children’s Foundation, HUB International, Noront Resources, Telus Toronto Community Board, TDSB, TD, Ontario Arts Foundation, Ontario Arts Council, Ontario Trillium Foundation, and the Government of Ontario.
Visit www.darearts.com for information on how you can get involved.