Student art gets out from behind closed doors

Christmas is a time of open houses in Dawson City, but there is one open house that has a special quality, according to Eldo Enns, program director of the Yukon School of Visual Arts (SOVA).

SOVA will be opening its doors on December 13, from 5 to 7p.m. The public is invited to tour the campus building, including the gallery, studios and classrooms, as well as admire the culmination of the first semester’s work done by the 15 full-time students and six part-time students.

This unique school is an accredited art college, where students complete their foundational year of a Bachelor of Fine Arts or Bachelor of Design degree. It is a joint venture between the Dawson City Arts Society, Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation and Yukon College.

SOVA consists of a diverse student population, with scholars hailing from five provinces and two territories.

Works displayed during the open house exhibition will be selected from assignments given in the five courses students are required to take during their first semester.

“It’s a celebration of the hard work done throughout the semester,” says Enns. “It’s the culminating event of the term.”

Students and instructors decide together which assignments to display. Works selected may come from 2D life drawing and painting, 3D work using clay, wire, stone, wax and cardboard, or from 4D work, including photography, video and sound. English class projects will be displayed in the library.

Along with the chosen assignments, some of the instructors also hand out special projects for the open house. Veronica Verkley, 2D & 3D Instructor, has assigned a “1,000 Things Project,” which will be displayed in the school gallery.

Students must gather 1,000 things and make an installation out of them. These objects must be found objects and must have two things in common. Verkley tells of a former student who collected 1,000 cigarette packs and built a bathtub.

“It’s personalized and casual,” she says, “a type of creative chaos.”

Nicole Rayburn, 4D & Visual Culture Studies instructor, has assigned her class to keep a photo journal throughout the semester. Students must take a photograph every day, then bind a month’s worth into a book, and along with text, display them during the exhibition.

“Students love this project,” she says. “It can be about whatever they want and gives them the freedom to be creative.”

The exhibition will be the first time the public will see their work, generating a sense of excitement among the students. These future artists feel a sense of pride in displaying their work. Both Verkley and Rayburn point out that the open house is a chance for the students to see their own art through the eyes of their community, as well through the eyes of their classmates and instructors.

The Yukon School of Visual Arts is located on the corner of Queen and Third Streets in Dawson City. The open house will be held on December 13 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Admission is free.

Gabriela Sgaga lives off the grid in her West Dawson cabin with her eight sled dogs. She enjoys mushing, skijoring and writing about everyday life in the Yukon.

Gabriela Sgaga lives off the grid in her West Dawson cabin with her eight sled dogs. She enjoys mushing, skijoring and writing about everyday life in the Yukon.

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