Second-year fine arts students at Durham College (DC) are displaying diverse pieces around campus on the theme – ironically – of diversity.
Fine arts professor Sean McQuay collaborated with Rona Jualla Van Oudenhoven, director of the office of diversity, inclusion and transitions, to colour the campus with artwork.
“Art is a medium of expression, an indication of the self. I thought it was a really nice way to capture how students feel about diversity on the campus,” says Van Oudenhoven.
Van Oudenhoven asked the fine arts students to create an art piece on one word in which diversity meant to them, and left them to their own creative interpretations. She believes in the importance of having all students’ voices heard and shared.
“It may not be words, but [their] voices are definitely ingrained in every brush and every stroke that’s in those paintings,” says Van Oudenhoven.
The success of all students is important to Van Oudenhoven. Since her first day working at DC in 2016, she wanted to see diversity among students, and still feels strongly about that today.
For second-year fine art student Courtney Skovira, diversity means reflection. She believes in order “to be diverse, you need to be able to reflect…and love yourself before you’re able to love…or care for others.”
Skovira decided to paint a solitary girl sitting in a beautiful environment, reflecting within herself and her life before moving on to care for others.
According to Skovira, her class started painting the diversity art projects at the start of the semester, and took approximately two months to finish.
“My word was array. Array means to be many, to be different,” says fellow second-year fine arts student Daniel Lillico. “I am gay, I identify as non-binary and trans. I definitely try to include that in a lot of artwork I do, simply because I don’t feel like there’s enough representation within the community.”
According to Lillico, DC has been an amazing experience.
“I feel like I can be myself. I can dress how I want, I’ll still be called Daniel, still be used with male pronouns. You don’t really get that in everyday society,” he says.
Lillico says his artwork is a representation of someone reaching out for help, for someone who is likeminded.
“When you transition at any point in your life, it’s kind of messy, it’s something that doesn’t come together until the very end,” says Leana Anderson. “I wanted to show that through the moon phases. It’s really symbolic of transition. It shows time and change. I wanted to include all the constellations to show everybody goes through that, it doesn’t matter who you are.”
According to Anderson, she didn’t consider herself to be an artist. Attending DC, however, has been a big transition for her and her artwork.
“My style is starting to come through a bit more,” says Anderson. “This [painting] is definitely representative of that.”