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WSS Art Show displays young Whistler talent

Annual high school event kicks off at The Gallery on March 6 with opening party March 11
WSS art students work on their pieces for the Whistler Secondary School Art Show, running at The Gallery starting March 5. Photo submitted

Whistler might be known for turning out young athletes, but Brenda Norrie hasn't taught a single art class at Whistler Secondary School (WSS) that didn't include at least one student who went on to art school.

"I have three applying this year and one already got in," she says. "It's kind of amazing for such a small town to have that many students go on to take (post-secondary art training)."

That array of talent is on display each year as part of the Whistler Secondary School Art Show, a public exhibit that runs at The Gallery at the Maury Young Arts Centre.

The show features 50 pieces from a "major person project" from Norrie's Grade 11 and 12 art classes.

"They're so varied and personal," she says. "There's such a wide range of abilities and colours and sizes ... As you can imagine, it's sometimes hard to get adolescents really excited about things, but they're all really excited about this."

Alongside submitting the pieces, the class will also be tasked with installing the show at The Gallery. "I walk the kids through it before we go," Norrie says. "We talk about the layout of (The Gallery), we do a little bit of preplanning about what possible groups could go where. We make some changes last minute. They're involved with curating the show and what pieces go together ... They have some ownership over it. It's less crazy than it used to be."

Still, it's a lot of work, she adds. "But it's so rewarding to see the way the kids react when members of the public talk about their art. People they don't know give them accolades. Every year I go, 'This is another great collection.'"

The pieces on display range greatly in topic because the parameter of the assignment was to create a personal piece, Norrie says. "They're mostly acrylic paintings, a few drawings or watercolours. We did a small portrait unit, so there are a few more portraits (this year)," she says.

Students will be installing the show on March 5 in time for the start of the exhibit on March 6. While it runs until March 25, the public is welcome to attend the opening party on March 11 from 5 to 6 p.m.

"There's a lot of parents, a lot of friends," Norrie says. "It's a fun little hour. Typically it's packed. Lots of staff come and see (the work) and members of the community come out."