"Waiting For Spring," said Alex Muller, grade 9 student at Opeongo High School, into the microphone.
"The title Waiting For Spring represents the current time of year, the time of year when everyone is stuck inside and we are waiting for winter to end and the long days of spring and then summer to resume… The time of year when everything in nature is at a standstill and hidden in the snow. In contrast, this show is designed to inspire people and remind them that there is still colour lurking under the snow.
In addition, the title of this show also represents the stage in a teenager’s life where they are not yet an adult, but also not considered a child either. They are at an in-between stage where they are neither here nor there. This show has been created so that the young people of the Ottawa Valley have a place where their art can be represented among that of their peers. As a teen it can be hard to find a gallery that is willing to represent your art unless you are already well known. This show seeks to give everyone an opportunity to be seen."
It was opening night of a month long exhibition of teen artists at Studio Dreamshare, a beautiful new gallery and arts space in downtown Pembroke.
Kaylee Crosby stands beside the event poster.
"We had a great time," said Kandace Crosby Hunter, whose daughter Kaylee Crosby's art was chosen for the exhibition's poster.
"It was my favourite submission," said Alex, the show's teen curator.
Alexandra Muller is a student at Opeongo High School and president of the anti-bullying club, Back Me Up.
"This type of club is important because it brings students together through events and organizes different anti-bullying and mental health initiatives throughout the school year," explained Alex.
Alex and teen artist contributor Kristen Myra created a live Facebook status where show visitors were encouraged to share their feelings. The installation was captured in a timelapse video.
Noah Brownlee's short art film, We Just Want To Talk played on loop on a large screen.
Jory Turcotte played electric ukelele and sang some original tunes. She brought a young man who played guitar in front of a microphone for the first time.
It was something I've never seen before in Pembroke. This was the kind of dynamic, transformative art space that was missing from this town in my childhood. Seeing these kids show their work in a professional gallery setting, free to be creative, mixing in music and film, gave me a ton of joy.
"This reminds me of walking in Vancouver, a coffee in my hand, popping into galleries to get out of the rain," said Jory. "It was the only thing we could afford to do inside there."
Art everywhere is a refuge.
Alex noticed the same vibe.
Alexandra is my music student. She moved here from Montréal where there were loads of arts and culture opportunities. She was missing some of that moving to a small community of a few thousand. I offered her a chance to curate a show at Studio Dreamshare. Alex rose to the challenge and brought a little Montréal art scene here to Pembroke.