On Friday, May 31, 2013, Central Commerce Collegiate (CCC) hosted “heART this!” – an eclectic evening of student and professional art, dance, music and fashion at Walnut Contemporary Gallery. This event was an extension of CCC’s Art & Culture Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM), in which students earn course credits, while learning from and working with industry professionals.
Photographers, underground graffiti and media artists all played a part in CCC’s SHSM programming. Entertainment was provided by DJ Club, various crump dance crews, beat-boxers, and even a student opera singer. A fashion segment featured designs from Dutch Blonde, Global Warming Tees, and CCC’s own “We Take No BULL-ying” t-shirt. Students modeled alongside Toronto transgender icons Myles Sexton and Derek Friday. Canadian and international superstar Nelly Furtado even came by to assist with hair and make-up!
We caught up with two CCC students – Terika Davis and Matthew Chung – who both played an integral part in the evening’s festivities*:
SIA: Tell me a little about yourselves; what are you passionate about?
Terika: I’m in Grade 12, a SHSM student. I have a passion for lyrical dance. Most time, when I dance, there has to be a meaning behind it. I don’t like to just perform; I like it to be meaningful. I also make a lot of jewelry designs on the theme “the power of love.”
Matthew: I am in Grade 12 and I’m in the SHSM program. I like art – LOVE actually. When I was young, I was really very sensitive about different colours and shapes and lines. I enjoy painting and digital art.
SIA: What was your role in the “heART this!” event?
Terika: My role was to sell jewelry – necklaces, earrings, and bracelets.
Matthew: I helped creating the poster and flyers, and I was also one of the models (laughs) wearing the “Power of Love” t-shirt (a collaboration with Global Warming Tees). One of my paintings was hanging there too.
SIA: How did it feel to have your painting hanging on the wall at Walnut Contemporary?
Matthew: It was exciting and I think it was a very good experience for me, because I feel like I was a real artist.
SIA: You are a real artist! Matthew, you also had co-op placement at Walnut Studios, right? What did you do there?
Matthew: I worked with celebrated portrait artist Ilene Sova, also the [Artistic] Director of Walnut Studios. I prepared the art show for her, called Spring for Art. I e-mailed all the artists and sent them their own invites that I made, and I also sent out the promo. flyers to people’s houses, in their mailbox. I also helped hang up the artwork for the show and promoted the show online through different social media. And I also helped creating an Instagram account and uploaded pictures for them and also [updated] their Facebook.
SIA: It sounds like you had a very full experience.
SIA: Why did you want to participate in the Arts & Culture SHSM program at CCC?
Matthew: Because it’s about art and I love it – I love art. And I also believe that I can learn a lot in that program.
SIA: And the event?
Terika: Just to raise awareness. For instance, the main theme of the event is “the art of acceptance,” so I thought that I could use art to raise awareness on anti-bullying.
SIA: What was the best part of the experience for you?
Terika: One of the best parts was creating the “Power of Love” t-shirts. I think that it was really meaningful. From this experience I learned that it is important to love each other – to accept everyone no matter what their gender, their ethnicity etc. To accept everyone for who they are.
Matthew: The co-op placement ’cause I learned a lot there; I have done a lot that I have never done before.
SIA: Where will your journey take you next year?
Matthew: I’m going to George Brown next year to study jewelry methods. My family – actually my dad and uncle – are jewelry-makers, so I actually want to help them after I graduate, to help the family business.
Terika: Well next year, I’m going to work to prepare for university. In the future I want to be a high school teacher.
SIA: Did your teacher, Ms Di Leo, inspire you?
Terika: Yes. Yes she did.
SIA: Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Matthew: I hope I can continue to follow my dream and to be a real artist one day.
Terika: I just hope the best for CCC. Even after I leave. I hope to give back to this school.
* These interviews were conducted separately and have been combined for easier reading!
To read an earlier interview with Rebecca Di Leo, the current Head of Central Commerce Collegiate’s (he)ARTS Department, click here!