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Aaron Friend Lettner

Discipline: Visual Arts
Homebase: Lower Mainland
Regions Available: Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley &, Howe Sound, Vancouver Island Lower, Vancouver Island Mid, Vancouver Island North
Languages: English

Working primarily with photography, Aaron Friend Lettner traverses the crossways of memory, culture and place. His work is distinguished by its esoteric flair and is, essentially, a ritual act through which seen and unseen worlds elide. An intuitive bookmaker, Aaron received the inaugural Burtynsky Photobook Grant for ‘Doorways’ (2017) and a Canadian national book design award from the Alcuin Society for ‘anglepoise’ (2021), which exhibited coast-to-coast across Canada, as well as in Japan and Germany. His books are held at the Deutsches Buch- und Schriftmuseum (German Museum of Books and Writing) – part of the National Library of Germany – and The Special Collections and Rare Books division of W.A.C. Bennett Library at Canada’s Simon Fraser University. Aaron has been featured in the CONTACT and Capture Photography Festivals; selected for residencies through The Rooms Museum (St. John’s, NL) and the City of Vancouver; and commissioned for a public art work by the City of Richmond. With trust and connection as pillars of conduct, Aaron draws deeply from the spiritual roots of theatre in the preparation and presentation of each work. Adjacently, he infuses his experience as an image-and-book maker into programs that supply youth with skills related to visual storytelling, as well as hand-binding books.


Visual Storytelling Workshop

School Year: 24-25
Discipline: Storytelling, Visual Arts
Offered Languages: English
Grade Suitability: 6 - 12
Duration: Basic: 90 min; Intermediate: 2-4 hrs; Advanced: 1-3 wks
Capacity: 25
Tech Requirements: None
Available Formats: In Person

Lower Mainland
Fraser Valley & Howe Sound
Vancouver Island Lower
Vancouver Island Mid
Vancouver Island North

The question behind this project is: How do you tell a story without words? Through a series of lessons, one-on-one sessions and book-making tutorials, students will gain the necessary skills and experience to tell a story using images. Each student will make a short visual story which they will bind together into a book using a pamphlet stitch – a technique requiring only a sewing needle and thread; perfect for beginners. At the end of the project, we’ll hold a “book fair” where students will showcase their work to their peers and parents, and to the broader school community. This program will enfold themes and ideas inspired by the language arts curriculum, specifically how to portray meaning using different modalities of art. Students will reflect on how objects and experiences have influenced their past and present selves; they will then distill these reflections into a theme to explore visually throughout their story using both found and fabricated images. They will use multiple strategies and processes to do so, while considering what a story is, whose perspective it's from, the order in which it's told, how it flows, the relationship between different visual elements, how physicality shapes its content, and what responses it evokes in a reader. The workshop is adaptable in its form and length, and has been run successfully before with students aged 11 - 18. It can work well in tandem with a book project and can add a creative dimension to written essays or literature reviews. For example, I ran an iteration of this program with Grade 12 English students at École Windsor Secondary, where we identified prevalent topics in Cherie Dimaline’s 'The Marrow Thieves' and distilled them into specific themes, or inquiry questions, to research and explore visually.

Testimonials & Reviews

“It was great working with Aaron. He took the time to work one on one with every single student and developed a great rapport with them. As a result, my students were able to produce wonderful works of art that explored their curiosities about the world. I loved how accessible it was to all ages, language levels, and demographics. Moreover, the opportunity for students to showcase their art with the rest of the school instilled a sense of pride and ownership in their creative achievements.” Tyler Dennis, Teacher, Blundell Elementary, Richmond, BC
"Aaron is an accomplished artist whose level of care, creativity and depth lends itself well to the kind of work he engages in through ArtStarts. He listens to students, to their presence in the classroom; he amplifies and extends what matters to them while weaving in stories from his own life with an approach that students find thought-provoking and inspiring. He meets students where they are and he helps them connect to the beauty of the world." Marjorie Dunn, Teacher, École Windsor Secondary, North Vancouver, BC
"Thank you for your thoughts and inspiration the last couple of weeks! It was refreshing to have a change in pace from traditional school work and expectations. You really allowed us to tap into a place of creativity and individuality, which isn't used enough in school." Olivia, Student, École Windsor Secondary, North Vancouver, BC

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