DC art students teach in The LivingRoom

Advanced Fine Arts student Shania Dias teaching an artwork shop in sensory clay to siblings Natalya and Porshia Troake at the LivingRoom.

Durham College’s Advanced Fine Arts students are reaching out into the community.

Third year Fine Arts students came out to Oshawa’s community art studio, the LivingRoom, located at 149 Simcoe St. S, Oshawa, to hold art workshops for people called Each One Teach One.

The students set up tables and made signs advertising their workshops.

Some of the workshops held were dream drawings, finger puppets, friendship bracelets, zine-making, Christmas ornaments and tea leaf reading.

Chris Cote, a third-year art student, was running the zine-making workshop.

“When I started the program, I wasn’t considering teaching or anything like that and now I am teaching,” Cote says.

Cote is a horror artist who likes creating comics and large oil paintings. He also teaches art classes outside of school at Whitby’s Station Gallery and was using Each One Teach One as a practice run for a class he will be teaching there on zine-making.

Cote says he can even see himself in a teaching career after he graduates.

“The best thing, I would say, is interacting with people,” says Cote. “It’s one of those things I think a lot of artists are scared of doing. Once you get used to doing that it opens up a lot of doors for potential careers.”

The Fine Arts program started incorporating Each One Teach One into its Community Collaboration class last year.

“Students can work directly with the public, get out of their studios, interact socially, and connect with their community directly,” says Dani Crosby, the professor of the Community Collaboration class. “It takes it away from a theory.”

Crosby has been teaching the class for three years and coordinated with the LivingRoom to bring students in for projects.

Crosby says it’s important for students to get involved in the community to make them think. She says they think about who their audiences are, how to reach out to marginalized groups, what they, as artist, can give back and what they can take away from these experiences.

“The students every year step outside their comfort zone and they always surprise me, always, pleasantly surprised.”

The program used to have Mary Kronhert, the founder of the LivingRoom, come in and do lectures for the class but Crosby decided to try for a more hands-on approach.

“Nothing beats the physical presence in a space like this,” Crosby says. “We can do a lot of talking and presenting and reviewing information in a classroom but really physically getting out there and having a non-for-profit that’s willing to put us up every week, that’s pretty great.”

Kronhert says she loves that students come out to the studio.

“Working with students is one of the most important things we do,” Kronhert says. “Students always bring new ideas, they bring fresh ideas, they bring exciting ideas, new ways of looking at the world.”

When students come to the LivingRoom, Kronhert says, it gives an opportunity for people who normally wouldn’t be able to, to interact with students. This way, they can pass on what they learn in school, open up discussions and learn new ways to be creative.

One of the new ideas students have brought in was yarn bombing, the process of covering structures and landscapes in yarn.

“Without students bringing in these things that they have the time and energy to try…other community members would not be exposed to these things,” Krohnert says.

The students also get exposed to new things themselves.

“It’s been nice to see this sort of side of the community, I mean, a lot of times we go to just galleries and look at artwork,” Cote says. “It’s nice to see the community side of artwork, just sort of a whole new application for art, outside of just hanging stuff on walls and having people come look at it. To use art as more of a tool for helping people in the community.”