Some of Lacombe and district’s budding artists are getting a little help in furthering their skills and following their creative passions.
As part of the Encore Art Sale and Celebration of Creative Expression on Saturday afternoon, several local students had their talents recognized with student awards and Art Endowment grants.
“It’s really important because it shows that we have young people that are so talented and oftentimes they don’t have an opportunity to show the community what they can do,” said Maureen MacKenzie, event coordinator and the City of Lacombe’s community services executive assistant.
“You know how it is when someone recognizes what you’ve done and how good it feels – what we want to do for our young people in Lacombe and Lacombe County is give them that kind of support and a venue to show off how talented they are.”
A total of 18 students had their artwork showcased during the sale, which was judged by a jury during the set up for one of three $250 awards in the Dustin Peers Memorial Drawing Award, Jan Holoboff Jr. High School Art Award, and the Charlie Donald Memorial High School Art Award.
Animals and insects, a hockey player and a figure skater heading to the outdoor rink together and a piece that looked like it might’ve been concept art for The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug as well as explorations of human anatomy and the inner mind were part of those on display.
Among the winners was Lily Overacker, a Grade 11 student at Lacombe Composite High School, who won the Dustin Peers Memorial Drawing Award for a pencil crayon piece featuring a different look at her own hand.
“I did a series of photos and I had my hand in some water and I just really loved the shadow and the light of the water around it,” she said. “It’s sort of strange to look at and the colours are very abnormal.”
It took her some time to figure out which image to use, but decided on the shot the final piece was based on because of how different it was – and clearly it was a good decision that caught the eye of the judges as it won the award
She’d only just gotten in all of her art for the show when she was phoned on Thursday and told her piece had won. Beside her piece was that of her best friend, Brianna Campbell, who took home the Charlie Donald Memorial High School Art Award for her piece featuring an up-close look at an eye.
“I was really surprised,” she said.
“My best friend did Oculus – we grew up together – so being able to have that experience together was really amazing.”
Augustus (Sawyer) Clark received an honourable mention for the Dustin Peers award and Makenna Verma received the honourable mention for the Charlie Donald Memorial High School Art Award.
Samantha Swanson received the Jan Holoboff Jr. High School Art Award for a second year in a row, with the honourable mention going to Elsie Stoupe-Trigg.
Arts Endowment grant awards, worth up to a maximum of $2,500, were also given out to those looking to further their education in various artistic studies.
This year’s recipients included Catherin Butcher, who is pursuing violin studies at Orford Music Acadmey in Montreal and the Valhalla Summer School of Music in B.C., Chloe Kikstra who will be attending the Ballet Jorgen Summer Intensive in Toronto, Holly Parker, who will be taking two violin studies courses at Valhalla Summer School, and Henrietta Verwey – Lacombe’s “Lady Blacksmith” – to take Metal Sculpture as part of Red Deer College’s Summer Series.
“It’s expensive for kids to go to summer school and take the regular music lessons, or visual arts courses or to go to Toronto for film studies and those kinds of things so when we can help them through the arts endowment fund to offset some of those costs it makes a huge difference,” said MacKenzie.
The Art Endowment Fund was first established in 2005 with the aim of supporting visual, literary and performing arts to create a vibrant and sustainable arts community – something local artists believe is integral to quality of life.
In 2006, the City of Lacombe donated $10,000, and since it has grown into a fund of over $200,000, which is distributed through grants to artists of all ages and disciplines, as well as student awards.
The fund, as well as the City of Lacombe’s One Per Cent for Art policy where one per cent of qualifying construction budgets covers the implementation and development of a public art collection, is unique to communities of Lacombe’s size.
“We’re the envy of a lot of small communities in Alberta,” said MacKenzie, adding she attends a public art network conference annually where she’s constantly asked about how Lacombe is able to implement such initiatives. “It’s because we have a beautiful, supportive community.”