SYMPOSIUM speakers

The Third Annual Art of the Peace Arts Symposium brings together four guest speakers representing a variety of visual arts media. With topics ranging from painting and sculpting to filmmaking, photography and marketing, this two-day event, hosted by The Dawson Creek Art Gallery, promises to address everyone’s creative palette.
By Ellen Corea
Laine Daheln - Untitled

Laine Dahlen

For more than 28 years, Laine Dahlen has taught visual art at Northern Lights College. He sees himself as a painter on a lifelong mission to master the skills that allow him to interpret the world creatively. His work reflects traditions of the masters in both their symbolism and imagery. The process through which we deliver such creations is another main focus for him.

Dahlen’s work and teaching look at the role of the artist, who, by definition, is a student of the arts who creates works. He ponders questions like: Can all works, including what is discovered or rendered in the sciences or math be considered art? Where practical application and understanding of the arts are taken care of by the muses, Dahlen sees the chemist as possibly channelling a similar muse to create elaborate crystal trees.

For Dahlen, people address these questions as they, in turn, explore their own creativity. As the painter develops his skills, and the sculptor masters his medium, they, as do all of us, ask: “Am I an artist?””We tend to be uncomfortable with the definition,” he says. “Perhaps the titles painter, sculptor, dancer, poet, give boundaries and are thereby more comfortable to wear.”
Bone Goddess

Sharon Moore Foster

To what the eye can see, the artist adds feeling and thought. He can, if he wishes, relate for us the adventures of his soul in the midst of his life
-Kilmon Nicolaides.

Sharon Moore Foster is one of those artists humbled by the term. Whether drawing or painting the graduate of the University of Alberta’s main goal is acquiring knowledge, connecting all her senses through the manual labour of art.

In an essay entitled Ground Zero, Moore Foster shared her thoughts around her choice of career as visual artist.

“What is ground zero? It is the place where I begin again, much like the Boy Scout campfire songs sung in rounds. Finneghan begin again? Ground zero is the Maginot Line where I hold loosely organized chaos at bay. Ground Zero is where I regroup and recharge and re-illuminate my heart. In this space I draw and sculpt.

After I struggle to show up, past the barbed-wire fences and random foxholes, I engage in the most perilous battle of all, extricating my self from my mind and repositioning her physically in this moment. It is said that the battle of the spiritual warrior is always with the self, building and shaping one’s character through action, trusting the process and remaining unattached to outcomes. In Ground Zero, my arena for self-conquest, awarness, single-mindedness, discrimination and perserverance are called upon. The weapons used for recovery and reconnection with my self are drawing and sculpture.” Moore Foster will explore more of the visual arts and her work at the symposium.

Don Pettit

Don Pettit at workFor over 30 years, photographer Don Pettit has travelled the rich landscape of the Peace River Region of Northeastern BC and Northwestern Alberta exploring and documenting his unique vision of this beautiful Canadian Frontier. His lifestyle and images express his active concern for the natural environment.

Pettit loves photography, with its finely crafted cameras and lenses and the way the film is kept cool until just the right moment. Experimentation is important in his work; making little discoveries, strange accidental images that no amount of skill could ever reproduce. The techniques and technology offer some of its richest rewards. Like other technical crafts, photography provides the satisfaction of creatively applying acquired tools and knowledge, won after years of study and practice. Pettit loves its magic and crisp reliable reality. He appreciates its usefulness, its ability to precisely record, but also to reveal strange, unseen worlds: The infrared and polarized, stopped motion and blurred time, the almost invisible made manifest. Precise focused pulses of light making images. Petit will tell symposium guests about the process of taking an artistic product to the next level, through publishing, marketing and distribution of varied art wares.
Aaron Sorensen

Aaron Sorensen

Aaron James Sorensen is an award-winning feature film director from Dixonville Alberta. His first feature Hank Williams First Nation was the first Canadian film to ever open in competition at the American Film Institute’s AFIfest in Los Angeles. There, it premiered with such films as Hotel Rwanda and Merchant of Venice. The same film has gone on to play several US festivals and recently won the “Best Music in a Feature Film” at the Nashville International Film Festival. The Village Voice in New York City recently cited Sorensen’s film as the Best Undistributed Film of 2004.

Just out of university, he began his working life as a small town school teacher and newspaper reporter in 1989. Sorensen’s varied career include stints as president of the oilfield company CompuTorque Canada Ltd. and elected municipal councillor. As a musical composer and performer, Aaron travelled much of North America with a variety of ensembles. He also worked with the Loose Moose Theatre Company while studying acting at the University of Calgary under visiting director Keith Johnston.

As President of Peace Country Films, Mr. Sorensen is currently overseeing the Canadian theatrical release of Hank Williams First Nation, which opened in Toronto on five screens this September. He is also involved as writer/director and co-producer on a script called Meet Pamela with Paramount pictures.


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Students learn to see things differently thanks to art educators. By Jody Farrell and Sarah Alford http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2007/04/pile-of-steel.jpg" alt="Pile of Steel" align="right" />

Greg Gourlay

Grande Prairie artist Greg Gourlay has spent the last six years of a varied education career teaching art at Beaverlodge Regional High School. While he's humble about his own contributions, others say the path he cuts in exposing students to all facets of the arts is wide open.He's been known to delve into anything he feels might create excitement around self-expression. Once, he brought in an aromatherapist to help students explore the link between scent and creation. As an artist, he's focusing these days on metal sculpture and design in his recently-acquired studio, a log homestead he moved from Huallen to his backyard.Gourlay spent years touring remote Northern Alberta, including Fox Lake, Jean D'or Prairie, and Wood Buffalo Park, as the arts coordinator for the Northland District Board, helping new teachers design and carry out programs that these days, hardly exist.He looks back fondly on the "heyday" of art education, when provincial funding in the eighties allowed for some innovative programs. Gourlay and (Grande Prairie Regional College fine arts instructor) Ken Housego once loaded up a twin engine Islander with bandsaw, wood, tools and paint for a community workshop in Chipewyan Lake.One real coup for him involved bringing the late Ojibway artist Arthur Shilling to the Peace. A biography published following the First Nations painter's death noted the trip to Northern Alberta as having been particularly important to him."My idea is to give kids the opportunity to make something with their hands," Gourlay says of his role as teacher. "It's sad when they don't want to take it home because "Dad will laugh." I guess just the process has been good though." Teaching students to use their imagination, to think on a different level is important for him as well. "It really is one of the higher things in life," Gourlay says of visual arts. http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2007/04/pile-of-steel.jpg" alt="Store Clerk" align="left" />

Gordon Perret

Gordon Perret is famous in these parts for his clay sculptures depicting rural life, in all its glorious layers. His farmers and grain elevators, pickled gophers and country store clerk have made for incredibly vibrant and popular exhibits.What many don't know is Perret has taught art at Montrose Junior High School, in Grande Prairie, for 27 years. His students' works are always a high point in the year end "All Schools, All Art" exhibitions at The Prairie Art Gallery. The mixed-media sculptures, featuring fake fur animals or papier mache oversized cereal bowls or backpacks, hint at the humour that has to come through in his example."I give them the concept of being original. I want to see something that is about the person." Perret tries to encourage efforts at being genuine, and discourages what is less so. "If the math teacher looks for the same 25 answers to a problem, the arts teacher looks for 25 different ones," he explains."It's harder to get kids to take craftsmanship seriously," Perret says of today's culture. The immediacy of computer clip-art, while effective for research, sometimes replaces the desire to make one's own mark, he comments. Still, the new technology makes for new tools, and his teaching now includes courses in video and digital art."It's an important part of training your mind," Perret says of teaching visual arts. "It leads to creating and understanding what is good art."

Fay Yakemchuk

http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2007/04/pile-of-steel.jpg" alt="Gestation of Thought" align="right" /> From Fay Yakemchuk's installation Gestation of Thought Fay Yakemchuk's courses, offered in Peace River through the Grande Prairie Regional College, have attracted a loyal following. She attributes the success of the program to her passionate students. Her students attribute their success to their creative, challenging instructor. Yakemchuk says that becoming a teacher was a natural step for her as she was completing her Master's degree at the University of Lethbridge."Why Peace River? People always ask me that!" She laughs, "I wanted to go home to teach, I wanted to give people an opportunity I didn't have, and honestly, I can't leave the program, it would have to shut down. It's the students, they stretch like rubber bands, they have heart, desire, they ask questions, and they challenge me. It's everything you want as a teacher. Why leave?"Yakemchuk urges her students to see the details, not only in their work, but also in their lives. In doing so, both their art and their lives change. "It's not how you draw, it's how you see things, when you can really see things, you can't help but draw well." She asks her students to see what gets missed in our busy lives. Yakemchuk's influence extends beyond the classroom. She recalls that her husband found one of their cat's whiskers on the floor and saved it for her.The thing about art, says Yakemchuk, "is that there is no right or wrong answer. No one is the same. I tell my students that this is a free for all; it's the one time you get to take off your hat and be yourself. And then," she exclaims, "They never see things the same way again! They can never go back. My gosh! I could never go back. You mean I get to make art, use my brain, and my heart? This is what it's all about!"
12 years ago

Students learn to see things differently thanks to art educators. By Jody Farrell and Sarah Alford http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2007/04/pile-of-steel.jpg" alt="Pile of Steel" align="right" />

Greg Gourlay

Grande Prairie artist Greg Gourlay has spent the last six years of a varied education career teaching art at Beaverlodge Regional High School. While he's humble about his own contributions, others say the path he cuts in exposing students to all facets of the arts is wide open.He's been known to delve into anything he feels might create excitement around self-expression. Once, he brought in an aromatherapist to help students explore the link between scent and creation. As an artist, he's focusing these days on metal sculpture and design in his recently-acquired studio, a log homestead he moved from Huallen to his backyard.Gourlay spent years touring remote Northern Alberta, including Fox Lake, Jean D'or Prairie, and Wood Buffalo Park, as the arts coordinator for the Northland District Board, helping new teachers design and carry out programs that these days, hardly exist.He looks back fondly on the "heyday" of art education, when provincial funding in the eighties allowed for some innovative programs. Gourlay and (Grande Prairie Regional College fine arts instructor) Ken Housego once loaded up a twin engine Islander with bandsaw, wood, tools and paint for a community workshop in Chipewyan Lake.One real coup for him involved bringing the late Ojibway artist Arthur Shilling to the Peace. A biography published following the First Nations painter's death noted the trip to Northern Alberta as having been particularly important to him."My idea is to give kids the opportunity to make something with their hands," Gourlay says of his role as teacher. "It's sad when they don't want to take it home because "Dad will laugh." I guess just the process has been good though." Teaching students to use their imagination, to think on a different level is important for him as well. "It really is one of the higher things in life," Gourlay says of visual arts. http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2007/04/pile-of-steel.jpg" alt="Store Clerk" align="left" />

Gordon Perret

Gordon Perret is famous in these parts for his clay sculptures depicting rural life, in all its glorious layers. His farmers and grain elevators, pickled gophers and country store clerk have made for incredibly vibrant and popular exhibits.What many don't know is Perret has taught art at Montrose Junior High School, in Grande Prairie, for 27 years. His students' works are always a high point in the year end "All Schools, All Art" exhibitions at The Prairie Art Gallery. The mixed-media sculptures, featuring fake fur animals or papier mache oversized cereal bowls or backpacks, hint at the humour that has to come through in his example."I give them the concept of being original. I want to see something that is about the person." Perret tries to encourage efforts at being genuine, and discourages what is less so. "If the math teacher looks for the same 25 answers to a problem, the arts teacher looks for 25 different ones," he explains."It's harder to get kids to take craftsmanship seriously," Perret says of today's culture. The immediacy of computer clip-art, while effective for research, sometimes replaces the desire to make one's own mark, he comments. Still, the new technology makes for new tools, and his teaching now includes courses in video and digital art."It's an important part of training your mind," Perret says of teaching visual arts. "It leads to creating and understanding what is good art."

Fay Yakemchuk

http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2007/04/pile-of-steel.jpg" alt="Gestation of Thought" align="right" /> From Fay Yakemchuk's installation Gestation of Thought Fay Yakemchuk's courses, offered in Peace River through the Grande Prairie Regional College, have attracted a loyal following. She attributes the success of the program to her passionate students. Her students attribute their success to their creative, challenging instructor. Yakemchuk says that becoming a teacher was a natural step for her as she was completing her Master's degree at the University of Lethbridge."Why Peace River? People always ask me that!" She laughs, "I wanted to go home to teach, I wanted to give people an opportunity I didn't have, and honestly, I can't leave the program, it would have to shut down. It's the students, they stretch like rubber bands, they have heart, desire, they ask questions, and they challenge me. It's everything you want as a teacher. Why leave?"Yakemchuk urges her students to see the details, not only in their work, but also in their lives. In doing so, both their art and their lives change. "It's not how you draw, it's how you see things, when you can really see things, you can't help but draw well." She asks her students to see what gets missed in our busy lives. Yakemchuk's influence extends beyond the classroom. She recalls that her husband found one of their cat's whiskers on the floor and saved it for her.The thing about art, says Yakemchuk, "is that there is no right or wrong answer. No one is the same. I tell my students that this is a free for all; it's the one time you get to take off your hat and be yourself. And then," she exclaims, "They never see things the same way again! They can never go back. My gosh! I could never go back. You mean I get to make art, use my brain, and my heart? This is what it's all about!"
12 years ago

Students learn to see things differently thanks to art educators. By Jody Farrell and Sarah Alford http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2007/04/pile-of-steel.jpg" alt="Pile of Steel" align="right" />

Greg Gourlay

Grande Prairie artist Greg Gourlay has spent the last six years of a varied education career teaching art at Beaverlodge Regional High School. While he's humble about his own contributions, others say the path he cuts in exposing students to all facets of the arts is wide open.He's been known to delve into anything he feels might create excitement around self-expression. Once, he brought in an aromatherapist to help students explore the link between scent and creation. As an artist, he's focusing these days on metal sculpture and design in his recently-acquired studio, a log homestead he moved from Huallen to his backyard.Gourlay spent years touring remote Northern Alberta, including Fox Lake, Jean D'or Prairie, and Wood Buffalo Park, as the arts coordinator for the Northland District Board, helping new teachers design and carry out programs that these days, hardly exist.He looks back fondly on the "heyday" of art education, when provincial funding in the eighties allowed for some innovative programs. Gourlay and (Grande Prairie Regional College fine arts instructor) Ken Housego once loaded up a twin engine Islander with bandsaw, wood, tools and paint for a community workshop in Chipewyan Lake.One real coup for him involved bringing the late Ojibway artist Arthur Shilling to the Peace. A biography published following the First Nations painter's death noted the trip to Northern Alberta as having been particularly important to him."My idea is to give kids the opportunity to make something with their hands," Gourlay says of his role as teacher. "It's sad when they don't want to take it home because "Dad will laugh." I guess just the process has been good though." Teaching students to use their imagination, to think on a different level is important for him as well. "It really is one of the higher things in life," Gourlay says of visual arts. http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2007/04/pile-of-steel.jpg" alt="Store Clerk" align="left" />

Gordon Perret

Gordon Perret is famous in these parts for his clay sculptures depicting rural life, in all its glorious layers. His farmers and grain elevators, pickled gophers and country store clerk have made for incredibly vibrant and popular exhibits.What many don't know is Perret has taught art at Montrose Junior High School, in Grande Prairie, for 27 years. His students' works are always a high point in the year end "All Schools, All Art" exhibitions at The Prairie Art Gallery. The mixed-media sculptures, featuring fake fur animals or papier mache oversized cereal bowls or backpacks, hint at the humour that has to come through in his example."I give them the concept of being original. I want to see something that is about the person." Perret tries to encourage efforts at being genuine, and discourages what is less so. "If the math teacher looks for the same 25 answers to a problem, the arts teacher looks for 25 different ones," he explains."It's harder to get kids to take craftsmanship seriously," Perret says of today's culture. The immediacy of computer clip-art, while effective for research, sometimes replaces the desire to make one's own mark, he comments. Still, the new technology makes for new tools, and his teaching now includes courses in video and digital art."It's an important part of training your mind," Perret says of teaching visual arts. "It leads to creating and understanding what is good art."

Fay Yakemchuk

http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2007/04/pile-of-steel.jpg" alt="Gestation of Thought" align="right" /> From Fay Yakemchuk's installation Gestation of Thought Fay Yakemchuk's courses, offered in Peace River through the Grande Prairie Regional College, have attracted a loyal following. She attributes the success of the program to her passionate students. Her students attribute their success to their creative, challenging instructor. Yakemchuk says that becoming a teacher was a natural step for her as she was completing her Master's degree at the University of Lethbridge."Why Peace River? People always ask me that!" She laughs, "I wanted to go home to teach, I wanted to give people an opportunity I didn't have, and honestly, I can't leave the program, it would have to shut down. It's the students, they stretch like rubber bands, they have heart, desire, they ask questions, and they challenge me. It's everything you want as a teacher. Why leave?"Yakemchuk urges her students to see the details, not only in their work, but also in their lives. In doing so, both their art and their lives change. "It's not how you draw, it's how you see things, when you can really see things, you can't help but draw well." She asks her students to see what gets missed in our busy lives. Yakemchuk's influence extends beyond the classroom. She recalls that her husband found one of their cat's whiskers on the floor and saved it for her.The thing about art, says Yakemchuk, "is that there is no right or wrong answer. No one is the same. I tell my students that this is a free for all; it's the one time you get to take off your hat and be yourself. And then," she exclaims, "They never see things the same way again! They can never go back. My gosh! I could never go back. You mean I get to make art, use my brain, and my heart? This is what it's all about!"
12 years ago