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The art of appreciating art

Across a range of rewarding activities, Upper School students are getting out of the classroom and into the cultural world.
Art teachers David Holt, Anne Kaye and Lori Rogers, along with Vesna Krstich, work diligently to deliver varied learning experiences. Philanthropic support comes from the Lind Art Fund, an endowed fund created by the late Phil Lind ’61 and family to bolster UCC’s visual arts program. 

Holt annually leads a voluntary excursion to Art Toronto for Year 11 and 12 art students. The fair, held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, features a panoply of dealers and galleries displaying works of the artists they represent. Most of the works are contemporary, with some commissioned especially for the show.

“It’s a good way to see what contemporary artists are doing, and assess the status of the art market,” Holt says. “Even museums shop at the fair.”

Krstich has curated many of the Lind Art Fund’s projects at UCC, like Cathy Busby’s WE CALL installation in service of Truth and Reconciliation. In October, Krstich brought the Mare Liberum art collective to the Norval Outdoor School for an open house. Together with Norval faculty Katie Tanz, she plans for some of its members to return in June to work with a group of Year 9 students on a year-end boat-building art workshop. 

Brooklyn-based, Mare Liberum collaboratively explores what it takes to make viable aquatic craft as an alternative to life on land. The collective will be building a paper canoe as a way of exploring interdisciplinary ways of learning about the Credit River at Norval, with the support and expertise of Indigenous educators. They plan to launch the canoe from The Lindsay Boathouse, the College’s new rowing facility in the Outer Harbour Marina. Mare Liberum members, including Toronto-based artist Shannon Gerard, will also work with the students to create handmade paper and learn printmaking that will result in a field guide to reflect what they’ve learned. 

“I’ve been wanting to develop a hands-on project that helps students understand the way art practice is informed by different subject areas, like science and design, and vice-versa,” says Krstich.

In November, Kaye and Rogers led the annual four-day trip to New York City for Year 11s. The jam-packed agenda took the students to museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney, the Guggenheim, MoMA and the New Museum. They walked the High Line to enjoy outdoor artworks and combed the commercial galleries in Chelsea to see the latest works from artists like Anish Kapoor. They also met MoMA curator Carson Chan '99, who gave them a tour of his new exhibition, Emerging Ecologies: Architecture and the Rise of Environmentalism, and visited with Chris Beatty ’08, an industrial designer, and Kenneth Chow ’12, an architect — all opportunities to discover how an interest in art could become a career.

“The students have been studying art for some time and have been exposed to a range of historical and contemporary works. Now they’re seeing this artwork firsthand,” Rogers says. “It broadens their awareness of what art can be. Culturally, it’s a very rich opportunity and it sparks their imaginations.”
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