Noble Central students let their self-expression shine

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Tynan Potterton received special mention in the Alberta College of Art Design's Show Off 2016 for his sculpture, "Fish."

Young artists and writers are sharing their work with broader audience

Artists, poets and writers from Noble Central School are having their work showcased in public venues in a myriad of ways. And it’s not by coincidence.

Teacher Desiree Lamb is clearly a driving force behind the push to get student work published, performed and displayed.

“They need that background knowledge before they head off to post-secondary,” Lamb says. “We’re doing a real disservice if we don’t give students this experience and exposure.”

She says students interested in pursuing post-secondary in the arts need to be able to speak the language of art history, literature or visual media. Entering juried competitions or competing for exhibition time helps them learn the language of the sector. Call it art literacy.

While she’s the encouraging force behind giving student work exposure, it’s the student’s own talents and passions that are successfully finding the spotlight.

Grade 10 student Tynan Potterton is the latest success story. His Art 20 project, a wire sculpture called “Fish,” received special mention in the Alberta College of Art Design’s Show Off 2016, standing out from more than 200 entries. His art has been on display this month in the college’s Illingworth Kerr Gallery.

Potterton had never attempted wire sculpture before. To create his fish, he had to learn how to solder, using his dad’s old soldering gun and a lot of experimentation.

The result was satisfying.

“I love building stuff, just seeing it all come together,” says Potterton, whose other passions include the outdoors and fly fishing.

Once no longer on display in the gallery, “Fish” will be back in Lamb’s hands, a gift from her student.

Lamb’s students are finding other outlets for their talents, as well.

Grade 11 student Nathan Fudge will join Grade 10 student Kayla Cole at YouthWrite, a summer camp for young writers and artists. Both were selected for scholarships to attend the camp for free.

Lamb’s poetry club also participated in a provincial poetry slam in Calgary last month. The Noble Slammers were making their second appearance at this event, which provides an opportunity for youth to perform for judges and an interactive audience.

She is planning to host a poetry slam at Noble Central School this fall to give more young southern Alberta poets an opportunity to share their voices. So far three other schools have said they’ll attend.

“It’s exposure for kids,” she says. “A slam is such a personal thing. They can speak about whatever they want.

Some of Lamb’s students have also submitted their work to the Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition, where their work goes up against entries from thousands of young writers from across the Commonwealth. Cole received silver-medal recognition from the international event last fall.

Also this year, Grade 11 student Kyle Gurr, entered a painting in the National Gallery of Canada’s “So You Want to be an Artist” contest, giving his art a profile in an online voting competition.

Noble Central Principal Greg Rollingson says the combination of the superb work of students and teachers “leads to a small school doing big things.”

Students have opportunities to try new things, such as wire sculpture, in a safe, judgment-free environment.

“They are able to excel because of it,” he says. “We can compete with the giants because our students are encouraged to take chances with the way they express themselves.”

Lamb says her students’ exploration of the arts will serve them well wherever life takes them.

 “Art is a sustaining subject,” she says. “It sustains the heart and soul.”