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Highlands School Art Market: Imagination Knows No Bounds

May 30, 2024

From June 17, you’re invited to step into the Imagination Art Market”, where creativity runs wild and imagination knows no bounds. The Edmonton Arts Council Shop & Services and K — 9 students from Highlands School are excited to present the​“Imagination Knows No Bounds” Art Market. You’re invited to explore a variety of surreal landscapes, whimsical characters and abstract visions, each piece a version of the infinite possibilities of human expression. Delve into the stories behind the student’s creations and lose yourself in a world where reality and fantasy intertwine.

Each home-room class collaborated on projects adhering to the theme​“Imagination Knows No Bounds.” With a vast array of projects on display, you can expect to see sculpture, ceramics, textile accessories, painting, drawing and a few surprise sensory experiences.

Join us for the opening reception on Saturday, June 1st at EAC Shop & Services from 2:30 – 3:30PM to celebrate the artists’ work on display and for purchase. Staff, students, invited community members and the general public will be on-site to share in the fun.

To learn more about how this art market came to be we caught up with Highlands teacher Eden Craig to talk more about the creative vision that inspired the projects and the impact this opportunity has had on the students.

How did you come up with the theme Imagination Knows No Bounds?

This year, our school theme is Imagine,’ and we wanted to build on that concept. As we discussed what we wanted the theme to be, our conversation focused on wanting an open-ended nature, and the opportunity to showcase the innate creativity and wonder that every child has, and the value and power that holds. This is what ultimately led us to Imagination Knows No Bounds” 

All of the projects being showcased at the art market allow students to explore the bounds of their imagination through colour and texture, and through the use of varied mediums. Why did you decide on these particular projects?

We wanted to leave the creative process very open-ended, allowing students and staff the opportunity to explore various materials and subjects. Several teachers developed project ideas designed to engage students from different grade levels, ensuring they felt successful and proud of their submissions to this showcase.

One of the projects, Adopt a Monster, pairs students from grade 7 with a buddy from grade 2 to create mythical friends. What were some of the highlights of these collaborations between the grade levels? Where there any surprising outcomes? 

I found this project to be one of the most enjoyable I’ve co-facilitated as a teacher. It was incredibly rewarding to see the enthusiastic participation from both grades. We have been focusing on creating opportunities throughout the year for buddy classes to work together which has provided us the gift of empathy and collaboration. This monster project provided an authentic focus to this collaborative project. A highlight for me was observing the younger students’ excitement in exploring their imagination, free from fear of judgment. This, in turn, encouraged the seventh graders to focus less on the final product’s appearance and more on engaging with the creative process. This shift is particularly significant, as many junior high students often struggle with this aspect. I think one outcome I wasn’t anticipating was the emotional attachment to the monsters the younger students would have. This made it challenging when there were mishaps during the creative process.

Tell us more about your experience working as a curator/​project manager for this art market.

Our theme, Imagination Knows No Bounds,’ was purposefully open-ended, allowing for an incredible array of art and interpretations to come to life through various submissions from all grade levels. Curating connections between the pieces has truly brought the theme to life. I am grateful to the individuals at the Edmonton Arts Council; their expertise is instrumental in bringing everything together, and I eagerly anticipate the final results.

In terms of project management, I feel very fortunate to work with a staff that shares my enthusiasm for opportunities like this. Their support and can-do attitude have made the process quite seamless. One challenge I faced was time — I would have loved to give our staff and students more time to create.

Additionally, I was fortunate to teach a CTF (Career and Technology Foundations) course Art Market aimed at introducing students to the skills required to host an art market. The students’ interest in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) and entrepreneurship is evident. Being able to demonstrate how to apply their course skills to a real-life situation was motivating for me as an educator and made the project management side of this experience something I could share with the grade 7 students in my class.

In what ways do you find art enriches the lives of students? Do you see the benefits of them developing their creative muscle” in other areas of their lives and studies?

Arts education provides a solid foundation for problem-solving, ideating, and in turn innovation. It allows students to express their thoughts and ideas through various mediums, enhancing their ability to communicate effectively. Integrating arts into learning addresses individual learning styles, and promotes overall student success. Highlands is an Arts Core school so during my time as a teacher here I’ve had the opportunity to observe students continually develop their creative abilities in all subjects, and I’ve noticed their intellectual confidence continues to grow stronger through this process.

Tell us about what this opportunity to showcase the students’ art in the broader community means to you and the students.

Showcasing the students’ art in the broader community is a meaningful opportunity for both the students and our school, as it allows us to highlight the value of art education and the power of imagination. It is important to reach more community members to demonstrate how creativity fosters problem-solving, innovation, and personal growth. This exposure not only validates the students’ hard work but also emphasizes the significance of continuing to nurture creative skills in education.