It started six months ago with a simple interaction at school.
Gary Parker, a recent graduate of Clayton Heights Secondary, was watching some art students sketch beautiful drawings. When he asked one girl if she was pursuing art in post-secondary school, he was shocked to learn she was going into nursing instead.
“There’s no money in art,” she told him.
But growing up in Jamaica — where Parker says the arts are not supported, and where he had to give up his love of parkour because of that — he knew that more could be done to encourage young creators in Canada.
So, the 18-year-old took $20 of his own money, filmed a video, and created the CommunityArt.ca high school artist giveaway.
His first video, staged in the hallways of his high school and shared through his personal Facebook page, received over 2,000 views in less than 48 hours. In it, Parker gives a “call to action” for young artists and community members to support the talent that is plastered all over the hallways of schools across the province.
“Our primary objective here is to assist and aid high school artists in the challenges they face,” Parker said in the video.
“Walking through these hallways, an interesting story comes to mind. With all these artworks on the wall — work that has such meaning, such depth, even emotion and passion … The question that comes to mind is, how many of these artworks actually have the chance to go to fruition or completion? Or are they put on pause or on hold because it’s too illogical to pursue it? Here at CommunityArt.ca, we aim to change that dynamic.”
Guided by the phrase, “Let’s change the world, but first let’s start with our community,” the contest works through partnerships with local businesses and organizations to both sponsor prizes for the artists, and offer spaces to display the winner’s work.
Not only does the contest give a small monetary gift to the teenage artists, but it also provides validation for their skills, Parker said.
“If we start with each other we can change the community, and other communities, and eventually the world,” he said.
Parker has now held two sponsored giveaways. The first winner, Jaidyn McLean (pictured below), won two gift cards to Opus Arts Supplies and an opportunity to display her work at Blue Lotus Art Gallery.
The second winner, Maria Villacarlos (pictured below), also received an Opus gift card. Her artwork, created on the Fort McMurray fires, was put on canvas and is being sent to the mayor of the devastated town.
Now, Parker is reaching out to students and businesses in Langley to join his movement.
The third contest will be announced soon via the “Community Art CA” Facebook page.
To find out more on how to participate, either as a high school artist or sponsor, visit https://www.facebook.com/CommunityArtCa/ or email Parker at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos from “Community Art CA” Facebook page.