CNC hosting art show

The professional artists of tomorrow are on display today, but only until Monday.

The latest College of New Caledonia art show is called Monsters Ink and demonstrates the newest of the region's aspiring artists in the drawing and painting courses taught by Betty Kovacic.

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"It gives them the experience of selecting their work, writing the didactics, and preparing the works for display, so it gives them experiences on many levels," said Kovacic, who is one of the city's best known visual artists. "(Library director) Kathy Plett is so wonderful and supportive of the arts, so she allows for us to have the students do two shows each year in the library, one in the fall and one in the spring."

The student show is always as varied as the students themselves. Each exhibition is a collection of pieces each one chooses themselves from the class projects they've done, and since the class is always a blend of older and younger students, Canadian and foreign, from all ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds imaginable, it makes the material a true reflection of the community itself: eclectic at its core.

Mattea Belsham, 19, is one of this year's students on the younger scale. She aspires to be a professional artist, or at least ensure art is a major part of her life no matter what she ends up doing. She said the lessons in making the art were as instructive about life as they were about painting and drawing.

"I sometimes wonder why my art can't be like that over there, or this one over here (gesturing to other students' art in the display) but an exhibition like this shows you that your art can stand up with others, what you're hearing is that critical inner monologue, and it's really only a matter of differences in style."

The students have several common assignments, so some similar works of art are easy to spot in the collection, but there are also broad and entertaining differences between the display areas to which each student was assigned.

"A lot of the assignments are very open ended, so they can guide the work from within themselves," said Kovacic.

"They can pick any of the work they have done in the classes. They narrow it down themselves as they wish, and I'm there as a consultant or if they need an opinion."

Belsham said the class was often encouraged to collaborate, and run ideas past each other. Dialogue was used as a classroom tool as much as a brush or easel. It gave her intellectual fuel to make choices about subject matter and how to approach certain techniques.

She pointed to one painting in particular as the one that means the most to her personally - a painted collage of images led by a person, clearly herself, contained inside a box of written words.

"It's a painting about my dyslexia," Belsham said. "It's about how I feel stuck in a box when I know my brain can do great things. The school system is doing a better job, now, but when I was small it was a huge struggle, even though I got diagnosed in Grade 1. Society needs to do a lot more to teach in the appropriate ways if a student has dyslexia. The information is there, it just has to be applied when a student needs it. That most important time is in the early grades when there is so much focus on reading and writing. In later grades when there is more focus on interpretation of information and figuring out what things mean, then it was way better."

Art was a constant comfort, and now it is playing a central role in her education stream.

"Betty and the other students were just so kind and encouraging," Belsham said.

"The biggest bad guy is always yourself, so between each other we tried to stay positive and supportive."

Each of them had a work selected for purchase by the CNC permanent art collection. Each of the 18 students also got the support they needed to create their display area for the exhibition. Some of the pieces are for sale and some are not. That was an artist's choice.

These classes are part of a university transfer program that CNC offers, so basic art techniques had to be demonstrated to get into the courses.

"My main goal is to show them how to look at their process with an artist's eye," Kovacic said.

"I introduced topics and techniques. We get a lot into the approach to art, unlocking ideas."

Monsters Ink is on now at the CNC Library until Monday. The public is invited to come view the work.

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