Emily Carr summer school draws 10 young artists to Whistler 

Teens explore techniques and conceptual theories behind drawing and other genres

click to enlarge PHOTO BY CATHRYN ATKINSON - One from the art Maddy Drought-Welch poses in front of her artwork. The teen was part of Emily Carr University's summer studio in Whistler.
  • Photo by Cathryn Atkinson
  • One from the art Maddy Drought-Welch poses in front of her artwork. The teen was part of Emily Carr University's summer studio in Whistler.

Maddy Drought-Welch from Rossland poses for photos with her family in front of her artwork.

The 16-year-old is one of 10 teens from around B.C. who completed the first Emily Carr University's summer studio in Whistler.

The students' work is now on display in the foyer of Millennium Place.

"It was amazing, the atmosphere of it all. The instructors were so nice and we learned so much," Drought-Welch says at the opening of her exhibit.

"There was a lot of character sketching. We'd be in Whistler Village a lot and just sketch people really quickly to get the motion of everything. It was fun."

The 10-day intensive satellite summer school for students aged 15 to 17 took place from Aug. 10 to 19. Half those enrolled were from Whistler, with the remaining coming from as far away as Williams Lake.

Much of the program took place at The Point Artists-Run Centre on Alta Lake.

Lead instructor Erick Villagomez says young, would-be artists develop well in such intensive programs, learning that art is more than the final piece on the wall.

"When we were discussing our approach to the framework for the course, we were very adamant about giving the students both technical and conceptual skills which they can carry forward in the future... into whatever they do," he says.

"The ability to take feedback and to understand it as something separate from themselves is a life skill."

In the past, apprentice artists would train in a master's studio, where they would copy work and learn technique, but this option is generally not available today. Often, this only occurs at university — particularly at a time when art is optional, not compulsory, at a high school level.

"The students would say that it was a unique experience for them, insofar that a lot of them would say they have great art teachers but they are almost overly supportive," Villagomez says.

"They are told they've done nothing wrong and in this scenario we were careful to tell them, 'Yes, there are some strong aspects (about a piece) but here's the stuff you want to think about and work on.' It's in the same vein as the apprenticeship, where you could tell someone they've done great things but it's not over. There are still improvements that you can do and should do if you are interested in making art something you do in the future."

Tene Barber, executive director for continuing education at Emily Carr University, says the students had a great experience.

"I've been taking a look at what they were doing for 10 days and we're seeing that the body of work they did over the 10 days is impressive," she says.

The outcome was "absolutely" what the university expected from the program, and there will be discussions about what the program will look like next summer.

"I am (happy with the number of students), and the university most definitely is. We are happy to see the partnership with Whistler, the ability to bring students together from all over the province. It's a sustainable program," Barber says.

"We may change next year. We may do something completely different. It's important to hear everyone's feedback and take a look, also, at adult courses and studios."

The Emily Carr Institute summer studio's exhibition runs for another week at The Gallery at Millennium Place.


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