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Through a New Lens

The nature photographs used throughout our website are courtesy of the students from Silverspring School, grades 4 to 8 who participated in the “Through a New Lens Program” by Saskatchewan Arts Board’s Artists in Schools Project program for the 2016/2017 school year.

Saskatoon Natural Grasslands through the perspective of a camera lens. Our students were excited to learn from nature photographer John Murray as he showed them how the arts, the natural world, and world perspectives can intertwine. Through the Saskatchewan Arts Board’s Artists in Schools Project program, and with the support of Meewasin Valley Authority, Nature Saskatchewan, and the Centre for Continuing and Distance Education and Ducks Unlimited, the students involved experienced in-class presentations, art and photography classes, Indigenous stories and activities connecting to the land, and time exploring the grasslands from both a scientific and an artistic perspective.

Early on in the project, Kenton Lysak from Meewasin met with the classes involved to initiate a desire to protect this ecosystem. Each class hiked through the grasslands with Kenton, learning about species such as lichen, buffalo berry, and wolf willow, and each class experienced a unique discovery on their walk. Randy Morin, from Big River First Nation, met with the students to share his connection to the land and through these interactions the students came to articulate their gratitude for what the land provides. As the project drew to a close, artist Kelsey Chabot crafted lessons designed for each class to guide them in interpreting their photographs using a variety of art media and styles. Digital painting, tissue paper stained glass, and oil pastels were used by students in different classrooms, and they explored using silkscreen, stained glass, and expressionism as possible styles for inspiration.

The primary focus, however, was the photography. As students emulated John and followed his lead in the grasslands, they learned to stop, stand still, and look around. From John they learned patience, perseverance, and to see a familiar space in a new and meaningful way.

Silverspring School has always readily embraced the position of stewardship of the grasslands, and we thank our partners for their help in recommitting to this relationship.

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