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June 16, 2015

Looking Around: Art Fundamentals with Cathy Stubington

We had the pleasure to welcome artist Cathy Stubington who visited us from the Interior to facilitate our May Art Fundamentals session. Cathy is a committed artist who has championed some fascinating community engaged projects in her rural community of Enderby in the Interior of BC. She also was one of the six Infusion Cohort teaching artists who collaborated for a period of three years with M.V. Beattie Elementary to discover and develop ways to bring arts integration based practices into the classroom.

Cathy is the artistic director of Runaway Moon Theatre and has led many creative experiences for young people that have been showcased in the ArtStarts Gallery, including A Bird's Eye View of EnderbySheep's CalendarioFish Prayer Flags and Looking at Sings in Nature. The current exhibition at the ArtStarts Gallery, At the Intersection: Where Art and Education Meet, also features some of her most recent projects that celebrate the intersections between art and other subject areas. 

The artist initiated the session by introducing her practice — and the gallery itself became a talking piece that she was able to use as she shared her trajectory as a community engaged artist and brought up elements of her integrated philosophy of arts and education.

Underlying themes of Cathy's work include the strong connection with the natural world and our interdependence with it, as well as the importance of local knowledge, values and the active community participation that brings these projects together. It is evident in her projects how young people connect with their local surroundings — understanding natural cycles, animals, forests and rivers — and materialize their responses to these phenomena through an embodied approach to learning. "When making things together," Cathy explained, "what kids make becomes something larger, that then belongs to everybody and builds a sense of community".

We moved into the ArtStarts Lab space for the second half of the session, and Cathy shared a puppet-making technique that she calls "easy paper maché". Using newspaper and tape instead of glue, this is a technique that not only saves a lot of time but also allows both big and small hands to "sculpt" any possible shape with success.

Each workshop participant began the hands-on process by selecting an image of an insect local to British Columbia. After identifying some facts and information about the insect, they made nametags featuring insects, such as Dragonfly (Sypterum Obtrusum), Giant Silk Moth (Hyalophora Euryalus) and Western Tiger Beetle (Cicindela Oregona).


Here's what some workshop participants had to say about the day:

"What I am taking away from this experience is that you must let students take ownership, have decision making and direction in their artwork."

"I have two extension projects to do in June as a result of this workshop. My students will love them and they will offer further opportunities for them to share what they've learned."

"I liked how the facilitator created an environment that was very encouraging."

"The hands-on experience really cements the ideas. The length of the session was perfect in order to have enough time and ask questions and have meaningful discussions."

"This experience made me realize the importance of sharing ideas, and the importance of community based projects."

"Making art together is a holistic experience that nurtures intelligences socially, interpersonally, emotionally, spiritually, physically, in a way that no other vehicle can."

It was an inspiring day and everyone learned valuable teachings from an artist who has transformed her community and made an impact on many young lives. Thanks to Cathy for sharing her practice and passion!

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Join us for upcoming Art Fundamentals workshops! Each three-hour session is just $15 to attend. Learn more and register online at

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