Matric Art Exhibition
SPEECH BY CAMERON SMITH - Visual Arts Class of 2018 Representative - 30 October 2018
"I’m sure by now everyone has had a chance to look around, and may I just say matrics – through all the sweat, tears and (actual) fire, we made it. We’ve produced work from paintings to prints to sculptures and everything in between – and we did so in exploring the themes that frame the work here tonight; our year work theme, “The Deception of Perception”, and our IEB examination theme, “Outside of the Centre”. Both of these brought with them their own challenges and a deep call for introspection as to what we felt these themes most clearly spoke to. If there’s one thing I can guarentee to everyone here tonight, is that you can see the genuine opinions, thoughts and feelings around various issues from our Visual Arts class of 2018.
I have always told my father – much to his disbelief – that art is my most difficult subject. This is because it requires a great level of internal exploration. Everything you do needs to mean something to you, and your end-result needs to provide meaning to someone else. In order to do so, I’ve always explored themes that are very close to my heart, and this is something I feel many artists do – especially when it comes to portraying so-called controversial issues.
Controversy is not anything new when it concerns the art world. Indeed art has been a mechanism for great social and societal change throughout history. This is because art provides a space wherein one is confronted emotionally and mentally. No one is telling you what to think about what is in front of you, it’s only you and your reflections, and the emotion that that brings. It forces you to think for yourself about what you are seeing, and that is a beautiful thing – especially in this age of rapid social change.
We are more exposed to the world than we have ever been in all of history, and with that we are more exposed to different opinions, viewpoints and happenings. Suddenly, we all have a voice, and many of those voices are trying to stand up for themselves in bettering our world through various social movements. Art has always provided that voice, whether it be to encourage support for the French Revolution or to criticise the more contemporary world around us – and let’s be honest, there is much to criticise. Thus, there has been an increase in art that tackles controversial issues. According to George Butendorp: “An artist is like a prophet. He [sic] must lead people and help them get acquainted with what he [sic] sees.” Art allows one to see different viewpoints about different, important things, which is something we desperately need.
I know that the thought of school children tackling controversial issues in their work is somewhat unappealing. We are meant to grow in a safe environment, protected from the evils of the world for the time being – but that’s the thing with exposure to the rest of the world, there is no more hiding the ugly. This is our world,and exploring it and its issues through art only helps us grow and amplifies our ability to thrive. Through the process of creating our bodies of work, I learned so much about not only my community, but also myself and my history. Our matric class has explored many important topics, from rape culture, to queerness, to politics, to masculinity, and to genocide. And, in that exploration, we furthered our own understanding of our world and learned more about ourselves to develop pieces with important messages.
Now, when you stand in front of a work of art, listen to what it is trying to say. It has a message for you, and that message may be something that can help you better our world."
Cameron Smith, Grade 12