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Art gallery to showcase work of Aboriginal youths

An exhibition opening this weekend at the Art Gallery of Windsor will feature works by local youths participating in an educational program through the campus Aboriginal Education Centre.

The 4 Winds STEM – Beginning Time Teaching Project is aimed at encouraging Aboriginal students in grades six, seven and eight to pursue education in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines.

In its first year, it ran over five weekends in October and November 2012, involving participants in lab experiments, lectures, and the Mobile Print Studio with Métis artist Dylan Miner. Miner led the students in the construction and decoration of a print studio on a specialized tricycle, designing pennants and printing them.

The students’ designs incorporated Native elements representing the north and east, says the centre’s coordinator, Russell Nahdee.

“You have the bear, winter and the wind for the north and an eagle feather and fire to symbolize the east,” he says. “Dylan plans to have students in Detroit make designs for the south and west.”

The art gallery will display both the tricycle studio and the printed pennants as part of Border Cultures, a three-part annual exhibition that brings together regional, national and international artists to examine the complex and shifting notions of national boundaries. The show runs through March and opens with a public reception on Friday, January 25.

Nahdee says he was impressed with the gallery’s approach.

“They have been really supportive,” he says. “This is a major effort to get our community out to the gallery.”

Eva Thomas, acting aboriginal outreach coordinator, says the students and their families are excited to see their work reach the public in this way.

“To be part of a major exhibit at a public gallery is wonderful for their personal development,” Thomas says.

Besides Miner and the students, Border Cultures will present works by UWindsor alumnus Chris McNamara (BA 1987, MA 1993), the Broken City Lab collective, and a number of other artists.

Tonight’s opening reception, part of the gallery’s Fridays Live! series, begins at 7 p.m. Besides the opportunity to meet the artists in attendance, it promises live music and studio activities for children and adults. Admission $7, free for children under 12. The Art Gallery of Windsor is located at 401 Riverside Drive West.

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