Art show gives students new perspective on Newfoundland culture

Chris Quigley
Published on March 28, 2014
Kayleigh McGrath, left, and Kaitlyn Keeping, both Grade 6 students at Humber Elementary, are seen at their class art show opening at city hall Thursday. The art show is a reflection of what the class has learned about the sustainability of the fishery of the province. — Star photo by Geraldine Brophy

Learning about the history of the fishery in this province was an eye-opener for many Grade 6 students at Humber Elementary.

Perhaps none more so than 11-year-old Kayleigh McGrath, who was born in Mississauga, Ont., and moved to Corner Brook with her mom Laurie in 2006.

“I didn’t know anything (about the fishery),” said McGrath.

She, along with fellow Grade 6 students Sonya Salyzyn and Margaret McKeon, hosted an art show Thursday night at the Bugden Atrium in the City Hall building.

The goal was to show how valuable the Newfoundland culture, particularly the fishery, is to our heritage and how to keep the culture sustainable, with the students reflecting what they learned about the sustainability of the Newfoundland fishery through works of art.

Each student’s work was modeled after visual artist Pam Hall’s “Encyclopedia of Local Knowledge,” a recent collection of knowledge on various local topics by more than 80 collaborators of diverse ages in more than a dozen rural communities.

Pages were created using watercolour, text, print and photography, under the tutelage of local community artist Alli Johnston.

McGrath’s page was dedicated to v-notching, which is the process by which commercial lobsterman put a mark on the tail flipper of a female lobster as a means to identify and protect a known breeder in the population from harvest.

“We learned a lot about v-notching in class with Miss McKeon,” said McGrath.

“And Alli Johnston taught me how to paint.”

She said she hopes the art show can teach people about sustainability.

“How to keep stuff living, so it doesn’t go away,” she explained.

See more photos: Humber Elementary Grade 6 fisheries art show opening

Classmate Kaitlyn Keeping, 11, focused her design on filleting fish — describing how it’s done, with illustrations highlighting the process.

“I don’t know why I choose that one,” she admitted, though she said she thought the finished product turned out well.

The daughter of Corner Brook’s Tina and Jason said she hoped the project would teach other people about Newfoundland culture.

“I learned all about how it was years ago before the cod moratorium and during the moratorium,” she said.

Twitter: WS_CCQ