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IDLC welcomes Artist In The Classroom

The school is hosting a special visitor as renowned B.C. artist Rosa Quintana spends the week guiding students through an educational art workshop. A public drop-in takes place Friday morning

Island Discovery Learning Community welcomed an artist in residency to their classrooms this week.

Rosa Quintana was the guest thanks to an Artist In The Classroom (AIC) grant through the Vancouver-based charity ArtStarts. AIC grants are meant to bring art to schools through unique and thought-provoking methods.

Saffron Gurney, art teacher at IDLC, explains ArtStarts “pairs artists and teachers in bringing curriculum to life in interesting and cross-curricular ways through the arts. It might be a dance teacher helps us understand tectonic plate movement, and creates a dance with kids.”

In this week’s experience, Agassiz-based artist Quintana brought her ‘Creating with Carbon’ experience to the school. Gurney met Quintana at a residency in Powell River last year, and knew immediately she wanted to bring her to Bowen.

“Her work was just so beautiful so we thought we’ve got to get her into our school… Her commitment to the environment was really appealing in terms of addressing local environmental sources for art making,” says Gurney.

Quintana has enjoyed a long career on British Columbia’s west coast, crafting art pieces for the past three decades. During this time she's also worked for Bill Reid and Ben Davidson, worked at the Vancouver Art Gallery, in the Vancouver Film Industry, and as an instructor at Emily Carr University and the Art Institute of Vancouver.

All materials used in Creating with Carbon can be found naturally, from a special fire reduction technique using a retort in a wood stove to make the carbon, to paint made from a combination of charcoal and seaweed cooked for days to turn it into a gel.

“Nothing needs a store,” says Gurney. “Through this activity it’s really connecting us to our environmental sources and bigger picture topics for the older kids. When we make something, what’s the footprint or impact we make?”

Kindergarten students at IDLC examine the different artistic elements of the workshop. / Submitted

There’s no end to carbon’s various uses, including medicine, food, and cleaning. It also has a major impact on the environment through its role in CO2. Quintana writes she wanted to address this element’s duality in her work.

“Climate change and COVID-19 have compelled me to make art that is more accountable, and to create community understandings of the impacts of everyday actions,” says the artist.

Quintana says her artistic methods, including her carbon-making method, locally grown food, and making ink from charcoal, serve as a timeless and personal approach to her craft.

“These processes have been practiced around the world for thousands of years as methods of survival. From start to finish, the act of making charcoal from locally sourced organic matter, is my direct connection to the land,” says Quintana.

Students have been busy creating the materials, and their art pieces, all this week. IDLC families are invited for a drop-in paint session on Thursday, Feb. 9 from 3 to 4 pm, and then on Friday, Feb. 10 the public is welcome to attend a workshop from 9:30 to 11 am.

Participants are encouraged to get creative with their paintings, while also considering the larger themes of carbon and our relationship with the environment.