Art’s Learning Possibilities at the WAG and Online

Learning & Programs Coordinator Colleen Leduc is an Art Educator and Certified Art Therapist with a passion for connecting with people, whether in person or online. Colleen delivers in-person art-making workshops to complement thematic tours around exhibitions in the Gallery. These sessions can also take place virtually to enhance people’s visits to the WAG, or provide access to anyone who can’t come to the WAG in person.

How is a virtual session the same or different than in-person programming?

Schools and community groups participate in in-person art-making workshops in conjunction with a thematic tour at the WAG, which adds hands-on understanding and depth to complement the learning that took place during the tour.

The virtual sessions are often more customized to what the teacher is looking to provide to their class. I usually have a discussion with the teacher beforehand to see how my session will link to what their students are studying. I often begin by sharing a few images of artworks in the WAG’s vast collection that connect to the art-making lesson. I like to provide some background and inspiration for what we are going to do.

Where are the students you teach located and which factors might prevent them from being able to visit in person?

Students from all over North America take part. Most of the classes that I work with are in Nunavut and Northern Ontario, and some of the virtual sessions I have taught are with schools right here in Winnipeg. Recently, I have had students in California attend some of my virtual sessions. Connecting to the WAG from within your own home or classroom can be a very accessible way to learn and access materials students would not be able to otherwise.

I especially love connecting students with Inuit art from the WAG collection made in their home towns. It’s wonderful to see their excitement and curiosity when they learn about a work with which they have a special connection.

How can learning through art enrich one’s overall education and mindset?

I have always been a visual learner. As a child, I was always drawn to art and art-making as a way to communicate. When given the opportunity to learn about a subject matter through art, it became much more accessible for me. I find that’s often true for the fellow visual learners both through virtual sessions and in-person. Students come to life as they understand what the art is communicating. I believe art provides an opportunity for all students to experience different ways of communicating, learning, exploring, and understanding the world.

How do a virtual or in-person visits to the Gallery and hands-on art-making complement each other?

Creating artwork that is inspired by the art in the WAG is a wonderful way to deepen learning about the art, artist, and messages being represented. Using materials, tools, and techniques that artists use can add an experiential understanding of an artist’s process. The opportunity to create art after a tour can also form new a sense of connection between the student and the artwork.

What key supplies are needed for an in-home classroom?

Not all students may have access to the same variety of art-making materials at home. This has been underscored during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic. I take this into consideration when a teacher and I discuss the lesson. Recently, I have offered sessions where the only materials needed are a pencil and a piece of paper, or where the students use materials that they have on hand in their recycling bins, such as cardboard boxes, and plastic food containers. Sometimes, teachers reach out to me for help with materials they have in their classroom, but they may not feel confident working with. For example, a teacher from Cambridge Bay, Nunavut who had the tools and materials for linocut printmaking wondered if I could offer a couple of sessions to work on a project with the students. I was happy to have the request, which gave me an opportunity to research the varieties of linocuts we have in our collection to share with the students for inspiration.

What questions or outcomes can parents and educators keep in mind when visiting the WAG, to facilitate children’s engagement with the art?

Often after either a virtual session or an in-gallery workshop, students are keen to practice skills and techniques learned in the session so I encourage parents to experiment. One of our most popular virtual sessions is a stencil-making session, where we look at the history and tradition of stencil printmaking in Ulukhaktok, Northwest Territories, then the students create their own stencil and artwork. Once they have learned the technique to creating a stencil, they come up with other ideas for future pieces they want to create at home or back at school. It’s so rewarding when students are inspired to create more artwork at home from a WAG experience.

Inspired to book learning opportunities for your group? Learn more here!

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2 responses to “Art’s Learning Possibilities at the WAG and Online”

  1. Miriam Duff says:

    What a wonderful way to engage people in art! Colleen you are doing such important work, and the people who benefit from your guidance are very fortunate indeed!

  2. Darci Adam says:

    So happy to see this Colleen – you bringing people closer together through art – creating wonderful opportunities for insight, understanding and appreciation. Thank you WAG for hiring such a wonderful person to evolve this role!

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