The annual student art show is underway at Altona’s Gallery in the Park. Pieces from students at Mennonite Collegiate Institute (MCI) in Gretna, Morden Collegiate and W.C. Miller Collegiate in Altona are on display.  

MCI Grade 12 student Maddysun Friesen has four pieces entered including clay, acrylic paint and pencil sketch. The pencil sketch entry is connected to the school’s production of “Little Women” earlier this year. 

“In the production, the youngest girl Amy, she likes to draw, and she's an artist,” explained Friesen. “There was one point before she was leaving where she wanted to give a picture of a drawing to her mother. They had me, and my friend, make the pictures that she had drawn, and they had used it in the play.” 

Friesen has always loved expressing herself through visual art forms. 

“For me, it's just taking a lot of separate time,” she said about her method. “Like seeing this type of thing, and I want to try this, so I try it. Art classes have been a lot of fun, and it's just a lot of time and a lot of effort taken to get to this point.” 

Jolene Friesen-Stoesz is Friesen’s art teacher at MCI in Gretna, and notes having the show in an amazing venue like Gallery in the Park’s Schwartz House is a wonderful opportunity. 

“It's great to have three schools coming together, and having access to this space, and giving the students an opportunity to showcase their hard work,” she shared. “I think it's really important for the community, whether you have any students or not, to come and have a look. It gives us a little bit of a picture into the hearts and minds of students and teenagers, and I think that's good for all of us.” 

Friesen-Stoesz is proud of all the students participating in the show.  

“It takes a lot of courage, hard work and creativity to put your work out there, to create the work, and then put it out and have people view it.” she noted. “I'm glad they have the opportunity to reap the rewards of that and people acknowledge their work.” 

This is the first time Friesen has had her work exhibited in a gallery, and she has really enjoyed the experience. 

“No one starts out good,” said Friesen about giving art a try. “It's really the time and the effort that you put into it, and even if it doesn't look the best, you can recognize you put a lot of time into it. It doesn't have to look good to still be art.” 

the clay piece Maddysun entered into the showThis is "Daisy", Maddysun Friesen's clay work creation

Meanwhile, her teacher reflected on the creative growth she’s seen in her students over the school year. 

“That's one of the biggest rewards for me,” said Friesen-Stoesz. “We're getting close to June, getting close to the end of the school year, so I've seen a lot of growth, and some students coming in with some hesitation, not sure that they are artists. If you're one of my students, I'll say everyone's an artist. Just growth in some of that confidence and ability, and some risk taking with different media and subject matter, and now coming to a point where you can have something to present to the public is just really great for them.” 

Listen to CFAM Radio 950's Chris Sumner speak with Grade 12 student Maddysun Friesen, below.