When Art and Learning Collide: Convergence

 Muriel Clayton Middle School teacher Alison Turner’s idea was to bring young art enthusiasts together with like-minded students and local artists to create a collaborative art challenge.

The first person the art teacher shared the notion with, of course, was husband Mark Turner, also an Airdrie teacher, who this past year was involved in the Building Futures high school construction project. Together they developed a plan and, with the support of Creative Airdrie, organized Convergence, which was held for the first time last spring and, because it was a huge success, will likely be offered again in 2016.

The goal was to connect Grade 8-12 students from all Rocky View schools with volunteer artists, who would mentor during a live challenge.

More than 100 students, who were nominated by their schools, took part in the inaugural event May 5 at W.H. Croxford High School.

“We wanted to give them the opportunity to ‘converge’ in one spot and not only network but create together,” says Turner, who is also on the board of directors for Creative Airdrie. “They were given a design challenge at the beginning and the theme was ‘Change.’ So we gave them three themes to think about at the beginning and gave them each an envelope so they could brainstorm for a couple of weeks but not know exactly what they were doing.”

Along with the artists, the program received support from Rocky View Schools, Home Depot and Michaels. 

“It was amazing to watch,” Turner says. “It took them a couple of minutes, but they just started reaching out to people – ‘Hey, what do you think?’

“They had the concept. They really didn’t need supervising. We just floated around and we could just watch them interact,” she adds.

Volunteer artists included Ali Froggatt, Veronica Funk, Gillian Mitchell, Roel Souassin and Kim Cheel. Alberta College of Art and Design graduates Solveig Agecoutay and Jordan Kanzig also served as mentors.

Turner says that for the second event, Convergence organizers would welcome involvement from more Rocky View artists from a variety of backgrounds, such as visual art, drama, media arts, music, design, dance, ceramics and multi-media.

“(The volunteers) didn’t run sessions; they were creating,” she says. “It was very hands-on. It wasn’t a step-by-step (process). It was: ‘How can we create this together?’”


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