Artists for Kids

​​The Art of Conversation

Saturday, September 23rd, 2023 to Thursday, February 22nd, 2024

Public Hours: Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays 12:00 - 4:00 pm

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Installation photo: The Art of Conversation, curated by Janet Wang and Amelia Epp. Photo by Rachel Topham Photography.

The Art of Conversation features artwork by over 20 Canadian artists, exploring the role of art as a platform for communication. The Art of Conversation draws conversational threads between the works in the gallery, highlighting art’s potential to facilitate and provoke dialogue. The perspectives and artistic conversations of elementary and secondary school students are featured through original writing and art. ​

Explore The Art of Conversation in 3D! With this matterport tour, take a virtual walk through the gallery and zoom in to learn about each artwork.

Upcoming Exhibition Public Programs:

January 27, Explore & Create | Artist Meet & Greet: Exhibiting artist Parvin Peivandi will lead the drop-in Explore and Create artmaking session for children ages 5-12 and families at the Gordon Smith Gallery from 1-3pm. Parvin Peivandi will be at the gallery to discuss her artwork in both English and Farsi until 3:30pm. Tea and treats will be served

We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.


Previous Exhibitions

Endless Summer

April 15, 2022 - June  17, 2023​

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Katie Kozak and Lucien Durey, Candelabra (still), 2020, single-channel video with sound, 4:15 min, looped. Courtesy of the Artists.

Explore Endless Summer by Katie Kozak and Lucien Durey in 3D


September 24, 2022 - February 23, 2023

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​Russna Kaur, Butterfly Tattoos, 2019. Acrylic, oil, sawdust and pastel on canvas and wood, 11 panels, 96" x 72" (Image courtesy Russna Kaur)

The exhibition examines how paths connect us and the collective stories that they hold. PATHS bring together works from the AFK permanent collection, including recent acquisitions from Charlene Vickers, Russna Kaur and Angela George, to explore both real and imagined journeys.

We can only hint at this with words

April 23 to June 25, 2022


Featuring artists Russna Kaur, M.E. Sparks, and Andrea Taylor
Curated by Kate Henderson

View the Zine​

Virtual Contributor Panel: We Can Only Hint at this With Words​

We Can Only Hint at This With Words is an exhibition consisting of large scale, multi-surfaced mixed media paintings by Russna Kaur, shaped cut-out paintings by M.E. Sparks, and mixed media sculptures and stop-motion video by Andrea Taylor, the exhibition will present a range of painterly material explorations. All three artists navigate the complexities of working with historical reference, and in doing so, find ways to construct their own shapes and gestures. The exhibition will explore the different ways each artist quotes, pulls apart and reshapes the historical narratives that inform their work. The exhibition will be accompanied by a Zine jointly produced by the artists and featuring texts by Yani Kong and Jayne Wilkinson.

Photo by: Rachel Topham ​

Presented by the Gordon and Marion Smith Foundation for Young Artists.

Generously supported by Parc Retirement Living

Additional support provided by North Vancouver Recreation and Culture Commission​



Beyond the Horizon

September 25, 2021 - February 24, 2022

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George Littlechild, On Sacred Ground, 1996. Acrylic on Canvas. 60" x 68"

Beyond the Horizon is an expression that encourages us to consider what is "farther than the possible limit of sight, beyond what we can foresee, know or anticipate."1 It is both visual - what we see - and conceptual - what we know. The horizon as a metaphor provides us with an opportunity to challenge and evaluate our own ways of knowing. The artists in this exhibition expand conventional uses of materials and explore modes of making through collaboration with other artists and the land.

Featuring works by

Alan Wood Angela George Betty Goodwin Bill Reid Elizabeth Angrnaqquaq Esteban Pérez George Littlechild Gordon Smith Greg Murdock Holly Schmidt Irene Whittome

Jack Shadbolt Jane Ash Poitras Karen Zalamea Robert Davidson Rodney Graham Sylvia Tait Takao Tanabe Toni Onley Xwalacktun

Unfixed, The Entangled Work​​s of Chris Curreri and Laurie Kang

​ARTISTS: Laurie Kang​, Chris Curreri ​                       CURATOR: Meredith Preuss​

EXHIBITION DAT​ES: April 8 - June 5, 2021

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Unfixed explores how the concepts of fixing and unfixing operate as metaphorical and artistic strategies in the work of two Toronto-based Canadian artists: Chris Curreri and Laurie Kang. Through works of photography, installation, and sculpture, these artists suggest a network of connectivity between traditional understandings around photography, art history, and intimate personal narratives. They challenge the notion that living things operate through distinct categories and domains, and their work suggests that photography itself creates a rhizomatic, interrelated relationship between seemingly disparate ways of thinking about our bodies, the political, and the social.

Central to photography is fixing an image in time and space, thus capturing an authentic record of an event or moment. Yet the physical reality of the process and the inherent bias of the artist’s eye rarely fulfill that promise. Rather, materials change over time, and what’s left outside the frame is as important as what’s included. To fix and to unfix can be used as lenses through which to view the ebbs and flows of social tides, many of which have been at the forefront of global conversations throughout the last year; the COVID-19 pandemic, which highlighted the precariousness of our health, livelihoods, and relationships, has demanded the rethinking of our social norms so that we can protect one another. Likewise, the dismantling of monuments to racist leaders and imperialists throughout the summer of 2020, and the renewed understanding of the corruptibility of democratic institutions, signalled a social unfixing that was long in the works. That which was once taken for granted as unchanging has been called into question: that which was fixed became unfixed.

Though neither artist’s practice explicitly focuses on identity politics, both artists belong to social groups that struggle against definition by heteronormative and white-supremacist gazes. In Curreri’s Kiss Portfolio, for instance, a state of queerness resides not only in the fact it depicts two men kissing but also in the experience of being uncertain about what, precisely, we are looking at. Do these images depict kissing mouths, or genitals of ambiguous gender? It is this uncertainty that serves to destabilize socially prescribed claims about the order of things. Likewise, Kang’s Mother offers the viewer a visceral and generous parsing of the mother figure as one that expands beyond biological determinism to encompass the many mothers that make a body—including both human and familial mothers, as well as nonfamilial and nonhuman forms and social forces such as migration. The work simultaneously troubles the notion of a clear, fixed biology by incorporating materials and forms that are not human or easily defined.

While elucidating the simultaneous fragility and strength of the human body and the various ways it can be represented, Curreri’s and Kang’s work implies a network of connectivity and interchangeability between all things: orifices are swapped out for one another, guts reveal themselves outside the body, lotus root and seaweed stand in for flesh and bone. The practices suggest that there’s an unfixedness at play under the surface of hegemonic systems, as well as within characteristics we think of as innately human, beautiful, healthy, and enriching.

Click here too view the artist Chris Curreri and Laurie Kang engaged in virtual conversation with the curator Meredith Preuss, to learn about the artist practices, the exhibition’s theme and the concepts and how it relates to the contemporary moments.


An Exhibition Organized by Patrik Andersson 

and Curated by

Orly Ashkenazy, Sierra Bronkhorst, Tallon Ellison,

Dorsa Hadikhanloo, James Peach and Vance Wright​

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This exhibition began with an invitation from Artist for Kids (AFK) to the students of Patrik Andersson's PRAX 300 (Dialogues in Curating) class at Emily Carr University of Art & Design to research and activate the vast collection of art in the Gordon Smith Gallery of Canadian Art located on Lonsdale Avenue in North Vancouver. 

Artists for Kids was established in 1990 through a generous partnership among some of Canada's most renowned artists and the North Vancouver School District. Their mission has been to build an art education legacy for the children of British Columbia. By the 2000s the activities and art collection had grown substantially enough to warrant a new gallery which opened in its current location in 2012 and was named after one of the Founding Patron Artists, Gordon Smith (1919-2020), who along with Jack Shadbolt (1909-1998) and Bill Reid (1920-1998) initiated the AFK Artist Edition program which helps fund educational activities as well as the purchase of art work for the collection.

With this invitation from AFK, Patrik Andersson, along with Orly Ashkenazy, Sierra Bronkhorst, Tallon Ellison, Dorsa Hadikhanloo, James Peach and Vance Wright spent February and March of 2021 working with the staff of AFK to explore and understand the collection in order to activate it through their individual curatorial interests. A group decision was made to produce a unified exhibition that nonetheless allowed each curator to narrate their own selection of art work and, in some cases, invite artists not included in the collection to become part of the dialogue. This includes current ECU students and  Alumni. Due to COVID, the physical exhibition has not been open to the public but we are proud to present it virtually to promote the importance of AFK and the Gordon Smith Gallery of Canadian Art and highlight the many connections it has with students, alumni, faculty and staff at Emily Carr University of Art and Design. The title of the exhibition is a reference to the artist Emily Carr's book The House of All Sorts, written in 1944 after having endured the restraints of WW II. It seemed an apt title during our own pandemic times.

Special thanks to the staff at AFK. In particular its director Allison Kerr and Vice Principal of Arts Education Daylen Luchsinger for inviting us to work hands-on with the collection and gallery, as well as archivist Marilyn Ramen, installer Emily Neufeld (ECUAD Alumni) and photographer Khim Hipol (currently a student at ECUAD). Finally a big thank you to Wil Aballe of WAAP for lending and transporting work.

All Installation Photography by Khim Hipol. Courtesy AFK and The Gordon Smith Gallery of Canadian Art 



September 2020 to March 2021

 Artists for Kids and the Smith Gallery have gone virtual and we’re inviting you to experience our fall teaching exhibit, Play!

This interdisciplinary exhibition features works from the AFK Collection that exemplify the creative process of play and inquiry. With the singular intent of supporting teachers and our kids K-12 across the curriculum, we are considering how play with materials (including food!), storytelling, words, and place inspires us to grow and learn.

Our curricular resources continue to include intentional support in Social and Emotional Leaning, Outdoor Education and Indigenous Education. With each curricular area, we invite ALL educators to consider using the gallery as a resource. We are asking some Big Idea questions to get you started . . .


How does play help us to imagine our world?

How can play build our sense of belonging and connect us to others?

What do we learn when we play . . . and how do we learn when we play?

Explore the Play exhibition virtually HERE!
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Please note​​​​​​​, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Gordon Smith Gallery will be closed to the public until further notice.

Featuring artwork by:

Kenojuak Ashevak
Anne Meredith Barry
Robert Bateman
Iain Baxter&
Jackson Beardy

David Blackwood
Elaine Brewer-White
Victor Cicansky
Joe Fafard
Graham Gillmore

Enn Erisalu
​Ted Harrison
Ann Kipling
Gigaemi Kukwits
Landon Mackenzie
​Roz Marshall
Josie Pamiuti Papialuk
Mary Pratt
Bill Reid
Jack Shadbolt
Arnold Shives
Gordon Smith
Charles Van Sandwyk
Gu Xiong

Dwelling: People and Place

September 2019- April 2020

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This exhibit explores figures and structures, how each of these effects and alters the other. A single or group of figures, or lack thereof, alters a place and in exchange the place has an effect on these bodies. The traces and evidence created by the relationship of habitation become the objects of interest and inquiry for artistic expression.


Reframed: Painting and Collage by Tiko Kerr

Curated by Meredith Preuss | Produced by The Smith Foundation

May 8th - August 30th 2019

Opening Reception & Book Launch, Saturday, May 25, 2019 2 – 3 pm

Tiko Kerr in Conversation with Dorothy Barenscott, 3 – 4pm

Reframed features new work by Tiko Kerr. Throughout his more than 30 year-long career, Kerr has explored the concept of perception through painting. His most recent works continue along this line of inquiry while drawing on images from art history and popular culture to explore the contemporary moment of widespread unrest and trauma. The distinctive wobbly style he developed and honed with his past work has been left behind and in its place is a deft handling of historically expressionist painterly styles, re-contextualized for today’s social and political climate.

Often beginning as paper collages cut from modernist artists’ monographs and interspersed with personal ephemera, Kerr’s paintings rely on a pop mentality in their irreverent mashups of high and low culture. At once uncannily familiar and strikingly contemporary, his mixed media approach interpolates his diverse influences to produce paintings that echo the political urgency of his forebears in a style all his own. Reworked and repeatedly recontextualized using an automatic sensibility, Kerr at times layers collaged digital prints of his earlier paintings or hand cut swaths of painted canvas with fresh brushstrokes to generate new compositions. In other instances he situates evocative patterning and bold abstracted still lifes within disorienting depth of field and figure ground relationships. The resulting paintings are as introspectively self-referential as they are influenced by the art historical cannon.

With a light hand and a poetic tone, the exhibition will systematically explore the various methodologies Kerr has adopted in his new body of work, while situating that work within a broader context of painting in Canada. It will also refer to it’s own context: a gallery outside of the centre of the city and a self-taught artist who doesn’t tightly fit into the few movements Vancouver artists are best known for.

With these concerns in mind, the exhibition’s programming will be produced in consultation with Minneapolis Institute of Art’s new Centre for Empathy in the Visual Arts to adopt new research and strategies around empathy and its role in exhibition viewership. The plan is twofold: to feature an exhibition comprised of work that is deeply felt by both the artist and the viewer, and to use that exhibition as a dynamic forum for new practices in exhibition programming to help encourage the growth and maintenance of a healthy community.



Selected works from the AFK Collection

September 28, 2018 – April 13, 2019

Transformations is an arrangement of artworks that depict or speak to a process of change. A simple search to define the word "transformation" yields many results: there are uses in science and mathematics, in the visual and performing arts, in business and economics and in politics and culture. "Transformation" has similarities in all of its applications as well as nuanced differences. At its core, "transformation" refers to a process of change. In the selection of these artworks, questions around the transformation of body, time and language are addressed. The artwork displayed speaks to this central idea of change both individually and in concert with the other works around it.

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13 Ways to Summon Ghosts

May 16, 2018 to September 4, 2018


Haunting might be described as an animated state in which an unresolved condition or event makes itself known. It is one way we are notified that what’s been concealed – or forgotten – is very much alive and present. In our contemporary culture of disposability, proliferation and excess, grappling as we are with the legacies of colonialism, with so many suppressed histories of dispossession and silencing, we might ask what artists, and art itself, can do? How can art, to reframe a question posed by renowned American sociologist Avery Gordon, reckon with all that modern history has rendered ghostly?

This exhibition considers the work of thirteen Canadian artists of diverse origins and experience, for whom haunting, it might be argued, is an artistic strategy. Through works of sound, sculpture, installation, painting, garments, print, and video, these artists alter our experience of being in time; they challenge the ways we separate past, present, and future.

Memory • History • Story

September 29, 2017 to April 27, 2018

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AFK's 2017-2018 teaching exhibition was a celebration of the first people of our country. 

Memory • History • Story is an exploration of our indigenous artists, their perspectives and voices, through the lens of First People's Principles of Learning. The exhibition supports teachers in the indigenization of the curriculum as they explore the First People’s Principles of Learning, which reflect a respectful and holistic approach to teaching and learning.

The exhibit also includes the on-site carving of a welcome pole by master carver K’na’kweltn~ Darren Yelton. 
“This is one of the most important teaching exhibitions in our history,” says Yolande Martinello, Director of Artists for Kids. “Seeing the work of our first people, and their perspective on their experience provides an essential aspect to understanding the true scale, scope and story of our country."

Screen Shot 2017-10-05 at 4.03.52 PM.pngThis exhibition brings together pieces from Aboriginal and Inuit artists from the AFK permanent collection, including George Littlechild, Jane Ash Poitras, Xwalacktun, Kenojuak Ashevak, Robert Davidson, Beau Dick and others. 

Works in the exhibition include sculpture, textile, cedar carvings and weavings, as well as two-dimensional works, for a collection that inspires learning in our young people and understanding in our visitors. 

Art School High

 May 13th to August 26, 2017


From May 13th to August 26, 2017, the Smith Foundation presented Art School High at the Gordon Smith Gallery of Canadian Art. The exhibition explores socio-cultural issues relating to identity, adolescence, conformity, marginalization, and rebellious behaviours. Invited artists have made significant works reflecting on the experience of attending high school. These works probe the very nature of learning in diverse environments.

This exhibition is a unique opportunity to explore visual responses by important artists to the depths & quirks of the grade 9 to grade 12 years. Schooling may have made us who we are, but it has also been a source of serious anxieties - and for many, a time of traumatic experiences​.

Curated by Patrik Andersson, participating artists include Karin Bubaš, John Collins, Rodney Graham, Scott Livingstone, Ken Lum, Kyla Mallet, Jean MacRae, Shannon Oksanen, Kathy Slade, Ron Terada, Neil Wedman and David Wisdom — all artists who have made significant work that reflect on the high school experience. 


[Ab-stak-shuh n]: the art and the act

 September 30th, 2016 to April 21st, 2017

Across Canada abstract art developed uniquely in various geographic regions from the 1920s until present day. Many of Canada's founding abstract artists – Paul-Emile Borduas, Jack Bush and Gordon Smith – were trained formally in representational art techniques. However, they found the play and exploration of medium and technique in abstract art "not only more satisfying, but also more challenging."[1] Canadian artists took inspiration for their abstraction from sources as varied as the Canadian Landscape, figures and portraits, and the elements and principles of design.

The impetus of this show has very practical roots. In looking through the AFK collection we asked ourselves, what can we teach to grade fours, fives and sixes in a four-hour session? The objectives of this exhibition are: inspiring potential future artists, encouraging students pride and confidence in their art, and aligning elements from BC's new curriculum of process, play, inquiry, and exploration. Abstract art achieves all of these requirements.

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 May 5th, 2016 to August 20th, 2016

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This Summer’s exhibition is titled Readymades. Curated by Bill Jeffries, with artists chosen by Gordon Smith, it includes works by Arabella Campbell, Douglas Coupland, Stan Douglas, Gathie Falk, Geoffrey Farmer, Rodney Graham, Brian Jungen, Damian Moppett, Mina Totino, Ian Wallace and David Weir.

The Readymades exhibition was suggested by Gordon Smith. The impact that the 1962 Assemblage exhibition at MOMA had on Gordon Smith was revived when he saw the Duchamp show at Gagosian (New York) in 2014. Gordon transformed that experience into the notion that a group exhibition on the subject of the readymade would allow viewers a chance to reconsider the idea of the readymade in the context of local artistic practices.

At What Cost?: Optimists, Pessimists, Nearby and Far Away


September 25th, 2015 to April 16th, 2016

Artists have long been intrigued by the idea of picturing their environment. This exercise might take the form of a straightforward landscape study, or a more complicated consideration of the risks to oneself or the world. This exhibition, drawing works from the Artists for Kids Teaching Collection, seeks to explore the many ways in which artists reflect their environments, natural or fabricated. By looking at this art, we might begin to contemplate our own surroundings, searching for parallels and contrasts. Some of these works urge us to celebrate our environment, some might inspire fear for it, and still more might introduce us to a detail that we have not yet seen. In some cases, the artists have tried to capture the vastness of our world, while others have sought to contain it. The title asks us to examine the extent to which we are willing to risk our environment and ourselves.


Guest Curator: Dr. Hilary Letwin

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Robert Davidson: Progression of Form

May 22, 2015 to August 30th, 2015

RobertDavidson_InstilationShot.JPGRobert Davidson: Progression of Form is a solo exhibition of the work of internationally-renowned Canadian artist, Robert Davidson. "Robert Davidson is one of British Columbia's leading artists and has made, and continues to make major contributions to contemporary art in the province.  Working as a printmaker, sculptor, painter and singer, he has expanded and enriched our understanding of Haida culture, both historically and in the contemporary world.  His work as a mentor to younger artists has also been transformative and this mentorship will be an important part of the exhibition. It has been a decade since Robert Davidson had a solo exhibition in the lower Mainland and this exhibition promises to be an exciting contribution to the summer of 2015, as well as providing important educational opportunities. Davidson never fails to produce provocative and original work of the highest quality, using his enormous skills as a draughtsman and carver to excellent advantage.  This exhibition will provide the public with an opportunity to see the work of one of our great artists." Ian M. Thom, CM, Guest Curator, Senior Curator Vancouver Art Gallery. 

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October 22nd, 2014 to May 2nd, 2015

As long as people have drawn, the figure has always been an essential subject of study. In this exhibit, visitors can see how Canadian artists have described their thoughts on the figure and the change, creation or discovery of identity.  The Gallery is divided into several sub-themes, exploring the politics of the figure, the performance of identity, the presence or absence of the figure, and everyday life.

Artists included in this exhibition are Ed Burtynsky, Rodney Graham, Angela Grossmann, Gu Xiong, Karin Bubas, Gathie Falk, Jane Ash Poitras, Irene Whittome, Attila Richard Lukacs and those in the Vancouver School Collection.

Gu Xiong: a journey exposed

May 2014 to August 2014

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This summer, the Gordon Smith Gallery is hosting a solo exhibition of the work of internationally- renowned Canadian artist and UBC Professor, Gu Xiong. The exhibition will feature Xiong's large-scale drawings, prints, paintings, photographs and installation work from 1993 to 2014, which discuss worldwide interconnectivity while examining the effects of globalization on our cultural relations, political understandings, water safety and worldwide food production. Xiong has created a new installation piece for this exhibition, "A Pigs River" which involved hundreds of students and community members from across the lower mainland in the production of the installation's sculptural details.

At the Water's Edge

September 2013 to April 2014

Marking the start of our second year in our new home, At the Water’s Edge exhibition is created from the Artists for Kids permanent collection. For those like us who live at the water’s edge, the lure of the beach and the sound of the waves is a constant in our lives. Water holds a fascination that is universal. Everyone has a connection to water, a memory of travelling on or near it, a love or a fear of its power.

Environment and landscape influence many artists in their work, which in turn inspired this exhibition. At the Water’s Edge includes work from Jack Shadbolt, E. J. Hughes, Gordon Smith, Greg Murdock, Takao Tanabe and Ross Penhall. These artists are drawn by their proximity to water and coastal regions to represent these landscapes in their paintings. Whether residing in the Arctic or on one of the two coastal zones of Canada, these works show the variation of the geography in this great land.

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Collection, Connection and the Making of Meaning

book.jpgMay 13, 2013 to September 14th, 2013

The “Collection, Connection and the Making of Meaning” show will feature works from our permanent collection selected by art critic/writer and curator Robin Laurence for their unique perspective on the theme of collecting.  The exhibition speaks to our own collection through the lens of several themes that recur through the permanent collection and are reflected in it; landscapes, animals, portraits and figures, interiors and still lifes, and abstractions.

A publication was launched alongside this exhibition.

Introducing our Patrons: Inaugural Exhibition at the ESC Building

October 13, 2012 to April 2013


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Artists for Kids

2121 Lonsdale Avenue, North Vancouver, BC, V7M 2K6 | 604-903-3798​ |Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Closed Statutory Holidays