Faculty of Education

Faculty of Education
Faculty of Education

Speaking Through Acrylic Exhibition

Potholes, Loss, and Dreams

July 28-August 14, 2015
The Studio (B144)

Tuesday-Friday 1:30-5:30 or by appointment by contacting Amber White

The Opening Reception will take place at 1:30 pm on July 28. A Thanksgiving Address will be given by Laura Maracle from the Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre. Light refreshments will be served.

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picture of flower on a road

Student Researcher Amber White

"As part of my Master’s of Education research, I was interested in gathering data that offered painting as a mode of expression. I travelled to Sudbury, Ontario, a mid-sized city were I once lived, to carry out this research.  I intended to explore the perceptions of eight urban Aboriginal youth (aged 18-29) as to why they made the decision to leave mainstream high school before obtaining their Ontario Secondary School Diploma.

In the heart of downtown Sudbury, beside the railroad tracks and near the courthouse, is the N’Swakamok Native Friendship Centre.  The purpose of this community organization is to offer “a medium for the meeting of Native and non-Native people and the development of mutual understanding through common activities.” On the third floor, community members can participate in an alternative school program—a place that the participants found “supportive.”

On my first day of data collection I asked participants to reflect on their reasons why they had left mainstream school. I encouraged them to construct an image in their mind, reflecting their experiences in school.  While doing so, the participants used a sheet of paper and pencil to illustrate their image. After a few minutes of complete silence, I invited the participants to paint the image that they had sketched.

During the creative process, participants offered each other guidance and shared insights about how to mix colours to achieve their desired hue, tint, or shade. Participants worked alone, yet within personal ear- and eyeshot of each other. Between the brush strokes, participants asked open questions: How far was Kingston? Was I paid to be here? Was I staying with friends? Laughter filled the room as paint on canvas dried. Moments of what appeared to be deep reflection occurred to the point where one of the participants, named Tamera, remarked: “I’ve never heard it so quiet in here before!” Laughter filled the four walls of the school.

Many conceptualizations emerged during the course of this study. These, included barriers, abuse, and future goals, all of which were given meaning by the participants.

I invite you to take a journey into their world by exploring their artwork. This exhibition, entitled Speaking Through Acrylic: Potholes, Loss, and Dreams, attempts to reveal deeper meanings and interpretations of mainstream education as evidenced by the perceptions of urban aboriginal youth in Sudbury, Ontario. Please note the exhibition features language and imagery that may be disturbing for some viewers."