Student artwork produced from Artists for Kids’ recent
botanical drawing workshop
is set to be displayed at Gordon Smith
Gallery at 2121 Lonsdale Ave. from March 2 to 5.
by Ben Bengtson
/North Shore News
Before they could take in what the artist had to say, they had to head out.
A small group of promising North Shore artists still in grade school
set off for a visit to Squamish Nation’s Harmony Garden, located on the
Capilano reserve in West Vancouver, earlier this month.
Artist and ethnobotanist T’uy’t’tanat-Cease Wyss, who started the
garden in order for community members to cherry pick their produce from a
variety of fruits, berries, vegetables and other traditional Indigenous
plants, led the students in an educational workshop around the site,
the first stop in a three-session Artists for Kids enrichment program.
“The students were privy to hear about these stories,” says Allison
Kerr, director of Artists for Kids. “Cease was really generous with
walking them through the garden in terms of why it’s there, what’s its
After learning about the botanical significance of these plants from
both cultural and edible perspectives, the students went back indoors
and had their newfound knowledge honed into beautiful works of art.
Back in the classroom, visual artist Mehran Modarres-Sadeghi and
Sutherland Secondary arts educator Veis Dokhani, along with Wyss,
instructed the students on drawing and developing their pieces into
stunning botanical works of art.
“Today, they’re using watercolour and they’re also using threads to
actually sew in the plants that they harvested,” notes Kerr. “These
students are really having wrap-around support of three very
accomplished visual artists and educators really leaning in.”
Artists for Kids has been operating for more than 30 years and hosts
a plethora of programs, from after school art programs to summer art
camps and much more. Its select enrichment program affords a small group
of students from across North Shore schools, nominated by their school,
the opportunity to take a break from their regular classroom and learn
from professional artists at the Artists for Kids Studios.
“It’s quite a niche group,” says Kerr. “The enrichment is about really looking closer.”
Artists for Kids hosts three enrichment courses per year in
different artistic mediums, such as painting and drawing, collage and
ceramics, and even sculpture and photography.
Perhaps what’s most important about the enrichment program, and
about Artists for Kids programs more broadly, is the way everyone
involved ends up influencing each other, according to Kerr.
“All of this is happening and the kids are watching this, and of
course, they’re getting this mentorship. It’s really important to
understand everything with Artists for Kids is about mentoring each
other – for our kids, for art educators, and our artists. In turn, it
really supports everyone,” she says.
Student artwork produced from Artists for Kids’ recent botanical
drawing workshop, which focused on Indigenous cultural plants, is set to
be displayed at Gordon Smith Gallery at 2121 Lonsdale Ave. from March 2
Noting the importance of artistic mentorship when it comes to
helping young people reach their creative heights – something that was
hugely important to revered painter Gordon Smith, who passed away at 100
last month – Kerr says Artists for Kids programs serve to help build a
“These kids will then go into their school and they’ll share their story,” she says.