A fantastic display of student artwork has just been placed at the Humboldt and District Gallery’s second floor viewing space. It’s the annual exhibit of contributions by students from St. Peter’s College’s visual arts program. Each year the best new artwork by imaginative new talents, many first-time exhibitors, hits the walls of the Gallery. 

Grant McConnell is a well-known Canadian artist and the long-time art instructor at St. Peter’s College. He says each year is a new venture that produces surprises out of the imaginative stretching and creative exercises that are part of the class. Among those blossoms of imagination are a series of collages by students as part of a specific exercise. 

“The collages in the exhibition mounted by the wonderful people at the Gallery are synthetic collage and analytical collage,” McConnell explains as he commented on one of the pieces by Shayla Nordick. “It’s basically a reinterpretation of a face where you take the parts and determine them through black and white paper media and glue them into place. It’s a wonderful piece she’s done.” 

Shayla also has a charcoal landscape based on a photo she’d taken in the local area. 

“I was inspired by the images that were presented for me,” she says. “The piece was based on a photo taken at sunrise before I went to school. With the collage, we were presented images to try and represent in collage form. I chose the picture of a black and white portrait and decided I could play around with that for a bit.” 

Another collage piece, this one by Dylan Burton is a playful piece with a floating head delivered with random items to ingest. 

“It’s Pablo Picaso’s head with a conveyor belt basically feeding him, and I just thought it was really funny.” One can imagine the artist consuming images of the world around him for inspiration, fodder for the imagination, that eventually is expressed as memorable artwork, just like Burton’s collage. 

In a world fascinated by artificial intelligence (AI) renderings, there’s still room for artists to take command of digital tools to find their personal and very human forms of expression. This year’s class served as an introduction to digital art for Arwen Carpio.

mcconnell and carpio.JPG Grant McConnell and Arwen Carpio share a moment of insight.


“The digital piece I did was a man’s face emerging from his body, and it was a first attempt for me because I don’t really do digital art,” Arwen says, “But I wanted to branch out a little bit.” 

Her main focus is people, portraits and expressions, so the digital format allowed for a broader interpretative exploration while discovering new technologies for artists. While McConnell and his students embrace new media as a form of artistic expression, he says the main platform for his introductory instruction always leans on the fundamentals of any sketch or painting medium. 

“In our foundations class, it’s getting back to the basics of simply ‘mark making.’ When you go back thousands and thousands of years, to the cave walls, it was simply mark making with charcoal and earth media – we do the same things today. Because you’re getting back to your core, your elemental self, to leave a mark on a piece of paper in an expressive way is in our human nature, and so it’s a great place to touch down and begin a foundation in art making, drawing, painting, and other media as well.” 

Hockey players will tell you the feeling of scoring their first big league goal; writers will talk about their first professional publications. So it is with artists in their first exhibition. Shaya Nordick describes it as a surreal feeling of both pride and accomplishment. Come out and share in that experience with the St. Peter’s College Exhibit, on now until March 27 at the Gallery.  

- Image gallery courtesy of the Humboldt and District Gallery