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AFK Blog
Apr 08
Cove Cliff Report

Reid_REID002_Xhuwaji_Haida_Grizzly_1990.jpgIt is once again time to apply for the Bill Reid Cultural Grant.

The Directors of the Artists for Kids are pleased to announce one grant award will be available to North Vancouver elementary/secondary public schools in the coming year.

Successful applicants will develop projects which honour traditional indigenous  arts and their significant contributions to Canadian culture with the design and implementation of innovative school-based curricular projects.

This past year, at Cove Cliff Elementary School, the Reid Grant has been used to support a School Wide Weaving Project: Weaving in the Coast Salish Style.

The award provided opportunities to:

  • Bring in Angie Dawson, Squamish weaver to introduce weaving to our staff

  • Bring in Janice and Buddy George, Squamish weavers to work with our Gr. 3/4 students

  • Bring in Kiki Whitebear, Tsleil-waututh weaver to work with our Gr. 6/7students

  • Build 30 student looms

  • work with authentic yarn

IMG_8848.jpgStudents and staff worked with artists to learn the art of Coast Salish weaving, creating their own patterns with the wool fibers.

Coast Salish weaving is one of the great Aboriginal arts of North America. For centuries the Salish people of the Pacific Northwest have spun mountain goat hair and other fibers to produce exquisite blankets, robes, and tunics with colourful designs and emotional symbolism.

According to oral traditions, blankets have been used for ceremonial purposes since the beginning of time. Salish blankets identified the wearer as being a civic and religious leader in the community. Honored individuals would be adorned with a blanket to distinguish them or they would sit or stand upon their blankets so as to raise them in accordance of their honored status. Blankets also represented an individual's wealth and were often given away to members of the community or even other villages to show prosperity. Because of their high value, blankets  were also used as a currency for which other goods could be purchased or bartered.

Women were in charge of making the blankets. Young girls were trained by their grandmothers as early as ten years of age, with more intense training as they got older. Weaving blankets required serious commitment and could take long periods of time to complete. Additionally, they were often associated with spiritual tasks or rituals such as abstinence.

Here is an article from the North Shore News talking more about Cove Cliff's Weaving Project.


Mar 11
Animal Adaptations in Vortex at the Vancouver Aquarium

​Students from Rudy Martinello's 6/7 class at Ross Road Elementary spent time in the Aquarium Vortex exhibition and worked with the Ocean Wise resources to learn about the impact of plastic on our oceans.

Their project, partially funded by World Wildlife Fund, is an exploration of animal adaptations with a peek into what might happen if sea animals could evolve to use the garbage to enhance themselves.

After doing a stream cleanup along their local stream, the students created paper mace creatures and housed them in "specimen" containers created from plastic waster dispensers to remind the viewer that the water we drink is related to our oceans and the garbage that we allow to enter that environment invariably has an impact on us as well as the animals living in the ocean.

Stacked to complement Doug Couplands display of found objects, the tower acts as a monolith and a visual reminder that we must do better.


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Feb 25
Senior Art Enrichment Workshops

In January and February AFK is hosting two Senior Secondary artist led workshops. In these workshops students have the opportunity to learn from and be mentored by leading artists. Each year we offer students amazing opportunities like these to work with stars of the local art community.


Painting with Fiona Ackerman, students explore the subject of the surrealist still life. Working alongside Ackerman students create and capture a still life that is created with object from the art studio. They are then pushed to alter and modify their composition through the exploration of painting techniques, playing with realism and abstraction.

Take a look at Fiona's website.


Photography with Birthe Piontek, students explore the subject of fine art portraiture. For three days the Gordon Smith Gallery is transformed into a photography studio where students learn a variety of lighting techniques and are challenged in their understanding of a portrait. Figures, objects in the place of figures become portraits and then are transformed through collage and assemblage to be re-photographed and returned to a 2-dimensional work. Take a look at Birthe's website.



The students will celebrate their learning at an evening exhibition of their work at the Gordon Smith Gallery of Canadian Art. They will share with friends and family the experience they engaged in with the artist mentors guiding them.

Feb 10
By Todd Clark, Fine Arts Teacher, Queen Mary Community School

​Last March, I attended an arts conference in Seattle where the keynote speaker was artist Nick Cave. Nick Cave started making soundsuits after the 1991 beating of Rodney King. A soundsuit covers the wearer from head to toe and acts as armour against the world's violence and prejudice. When worn, identity is magically erased.  The 'self' becomes free of labels and one can masquerade as a life-force truly free. More information on Nick Cave's soundsuits can be found HERE.

I decided to teach students about soundsuits. I used the concepts of identity, labels, bullying, transformation, and anonymity in my teaching. 

We then made soundsuits of our own!


All of the materials we used for our soundsuits were found or recycled. I taught students how to sew and to make composite strands using glue guns. Three suits were created and they were put on display at the our school. The feedback from students has been wonderful.

"Cool! When are we going to perform in the suits," asked one student.

"Can I wear it?" asked another.

"I feel like a creature," said a student who was wearing the suit.

Overall, the soundsuit project was not only an excellent artistic project that taught the students about various art techniques, but it also offered students deep learning on inclusivity and acceptance.

Feb 06
Professional Learning at the Audain Museum

​The Artists for Kids Gallery teaching team takes their work seriously. On January 21 all ten members of the team spent the day at the Audain Gallery in Whistler to have a tour of the building and to discuss gallery programming with the education staff. Picture2.png

Dr. Curtis Collins, the Audain Art Museum’s Director and Chief Curator led us through the exhibition space providing a wealth of information to the group. We also had the privilege of touring behind the scenes to view the vault and loading areas as well as the administration offices and the second floor galleries that are ready and waiting for future exhibits.
The Audain Art Museum’s collection was very inspiring and we were happy to see many of our own patron artists represented there.

Thanks to a professional development grant from the Edith Lando Foundation, the teachers were able to spend a day at the gallery delving into how other institutions work with their audiences and their collections to engage them in learning about the exhibitions.

“Our team includes elementary and secondary teachers who are for the most part practicing artists themselves,” states Director Yolande Martinello. “This group is dedicated to ensuring that the students that visit our Gordon Smith Gallery get the very best experience possible.”

Approximately 1500 students attend the gallery program each school year with their class. The program runs three days a week from October to April each year. Classes attend a gallery tour in which the Art Teacher leads the students through a thoughtful discussion of the permanent collection exhibit. Each year this teaching exhibit is carefully curated by Artists for Kids to meet a specific learning outcome. The gallery’s team of teachers work together to plan the focus of the learning but each teaches a lesson designed by the individual teacher. These lessons in turn become available to the public once they have been published on our website resource pages. Picture1.png

Jan 25
An Exploration on Single-Use-Plastics at the Vancouver Aquarium

Artists for Kids is currently working with the Vancouver Aquarium to help heighten awareness of the harm plastics have on our oceans and their inhabitants.

The current art exhibit at the Aquarium is an environment installation by Artists for Kids artist-patron, Doug Coupland.

Three elementary classrooms and Handsworth Secondary art students, have been invited to spend a day at the Aquarium exploring Doug Couplands Vortex exhibit and the other Aquarium galleries.


The students documented their visit in sketchbooks gathering imagery that they will be using to demonstrate their learning. We expect some very amazing art to be created. On March 8th the students will exhibit their work at the Aquarium just outside the Vortex exhibit.

The elementary classes will also be participating in local stream cleanups and will explore ways that they personally can reduce their use of plastics. Teachers Jennifer Eby, Kate Arkiletian and Rudy Martinello are exploring this topic with the help of the Ocean wise resources available through the Aquarium site.

Ross Road's Grade 6/7 class also received a grant from WWF to support their efforts and will be creating beeswax food wraps as one step in combating single use plastics.

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All in all, we think that the project will stimulate not only some very interesting artwork but that it will encourage students and their families to think twice before using plastics when there are safer more earth friendly alternatives.

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Jan 25
SPARK : Gifted Zone Explorations Enrichment Project

​For the second year running, Artists for Kids has had the opportunity to work with the students in the Gifted Zone Exploration program. Together with their Zone teachers, Ms. Summers and Ms. Paiuk, AFK educator Amelia Epp explored the teaching exhibition; Transformations and created a personal exploration of their own transformations for a full day.

Students began the day by exploring the exhibition in the Gordon Smith Gallery, sketching and enthusiastically discussing individual artworks. Back in the art studio, students developed colour palettes and abstract shapes to represent their individual interests and personalities. Incorporating magazine images, photographs of themselves, and collage materials brought from home, students then completed abstract self-portraits. The resulting mixed media collages were diverse, colourful, and dynamic  - representing the young artists who created them.

Held over three days, the program was attended by nearly 90 students in grades 4 and 5. Another wonderful opportunity for our young people to explore the world of visual arts. We are already looking forward to next years offerings.

Below are details from student work.


Jan 25
Exciting New Pilot Project at AFK

This year at Artists for Kids, we’ve been running a wonderful new pilot program with Inclusion Works North Shore. This small group of Developmentally Disabled young adults are coming to the Artists for Kids studio once a week to create unique one of a kind works of art which they are selling at various locations.

In the fall this group of artists worked with art educator and Director of Artists for Kids, Yolande Martinello to create original prints using a variety of techniques. The group experienced relief printing, monotypes, and collagraphs. They created a series of Christmas and winter images which were reproduced into cards for the holidays. We heard that all the cards sold out which is very exciting.


This month the students are beginning mosaics. The project was launched with the creation of a trivet with a pebble mosaic and will continue for the next two months exploring other more complex mosaic works.

Nov 09
Ceramic poppy project impactful in many ways


By Paul Best, Teacher, Lynnmour Elementary School

I was influenced by the Tower of London Poppy installation of 2014, where ceramic artist Paul Cummins, who suffers from dyslexia, and set designer Tom Piper placed 888,246 poppies in the moat. Each poppy representing an individual solider from the United Kingdom and British Commonwealth who died during World War 1. After the installation was dismantled, each poppy, complete with a certificate commemorating one of the fallen, was sold to the general public raising over $17 million dollars for war veteran's charities. 


I wanted to create a similar experience for Lynnmour Elementary School students, not only making the ceramic poppies but also directly tying it to an individual soldier, from one of the 17 British Columbian battalions, who died during the Great War.

To make it even more meaningful, I chose one of the most famous Canadian actions - the Battle of Vimy Ridge during the second week of April 1917. Sadly, 3,598 Canadian soldiers died and a further 7,004 were wounded that week. The first day of the battle, April 9, 2017, had the most casualties.

I researched the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) online and found more than a hundred individuals who died while fighting with one of the British Columbian battalions on April 9, 2017. Each student received a printout of the CWGC certificate with the rank, name, service number, battalion designation, and sometimes the age and next of kin of that particular soldier who they commemorated. As the students were creating their poppies, they had their printouts in front of them. I know that it resonated with them. 

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Jul 31
Twenty-Five Years in Paradise: Paradise Valley Summer School of Visual Art

The glistening waters of the Cheakamus River and lush vegetation of the surrounding old-growth forest provide the perfect serene environment to explore creativity.

"There is something really meaningful and beautiful about being able to take kids outside to harness their artistic expression," said Daylen Luchsinger, Education Coordinator, Artists for Kids.

This year marks the 25th year for the Artists for Kids Paradise Valley Summer School of Visual Arts hosted at Cheakamus Centre in Squamish. The program combines the ideal location of the Cheakamus Centre with top-notch artists for a five-day program for eight to 18-year-olds. Students are paired with a professional artist who presents on his or her work throughout the week. The students work with art specialist teachers to make art of their own in response to the presentations from the professional artists. There are also blocks of recreation time where the students go canoeing, hiking or sketch the gorgeous scenery that surrounds them.

Once again this year, the program sold-out with 104 participants.

"There's a new appreciation for a really strong arts foundation because it supports student learning in so many ways," said Yolande Martinello, Director, Artists for Kids. "And, it's five days in paradise!"

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To celebrate the 25th year, student work from the week was on display throughout the Cheakamus Centre grounds. Multimedia art was hung from wooden walk-path railings and paintings were propped against trees. The buildings were transformed into galleries with art of varying styles, shapes and colours. Parents were invited to join the students for a celebration reception.

"These young artists were amazing. They took risks and created beautiful work," said Martinello at the celebration event. "I think everyone this week has grown – not just the kids, but also the counsellors and adult staff."

"Thank you to all of the kids. You are amazing artists and it was a pleasure working with you and I learned so much from you," said Justin Ogilvie, Artist in Residence for the senior students at the program.

"I have been inspired so much from the students. I'm excited to get back into my studio. Thank you," said M.E. Sparks, Artist in Residence for the junior students at the program.

 To find out more about the Paradise Valley Summer School of Visual Arts, visit:

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About this blog
At Artists for Kids, we are dedicated to educating the next generation of Canadian Artists. This blog, which is updated regularly, shares stories of art-based activities, resources, events, exhibitions and classes, all which contribute to a richer creative and cultural community. We invite you to visit our blog often.