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VIDEO: Abbotsford students say thanks through the arts

ASIA Sumas Mountain students create art to inspire local front line health care workers

It has been nearly a year that front-line healthcare workers have been battling the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

They have sacrificed their own health and time to take on the uncertain virus, and recently Abbotsford School of Integrated Arts (ASIA) Sumas Mountain students decided to thank the workers in a unique way.

They collaborated with the Abbotsford Regional Hospital and Cancer Centre to transform their art into messages of appreciation for local staff. The creations are now being spread throughout the hospital so those working there can have more of an understanding about how much they are valued.

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ASIA Sumas vice-principal Tyler Horner said it was up to the students how they chose to express their gratitude within the art.

“Some students carefully chose images that were symbolic where others were more literal in their approach,” he said. “Each was encouraged to make purposeful artistic choices to enhance the depth and meaning of their work by focusing on the big picture of thankfulness, happiness, peace, and hope for tomorrow.”

Students were tasked to stick to a prescribed shape and size so the work could be digitally rendered, but the aesthetics were completely up to them. The artwork was then reproduced into larger weatherproof signs that are now displayed on outdoor walls at the hospital and in the parking stalls of nurses, doctors and other healthcare professionals arriving for work. The art will also be used to create thank-you card stationery for use within the hospital.

Grade 12 student Rachel Kehler, who created a comic-book-style design featuring healthcare workers, said she’s thrilled that she might do a small part in making the workday a little more enjoyable for local front-line workers.

“I think it’s awesome to have a kind of ability to help other people feel joy, especially going into a space that isn’t always super joyful,” she said. “Just knowing that someone can look back at everyone’s art and just feel a sense of hope and that there are other people that are fighting for them. They are today’s super heroes and they’re truly the people we look up to right now. Every single one of us is so unbelievably thankful for what they are doing right now.”

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Grade 10 student Anilee Nesbitt, who created a breakfast scene on her design, said she hopes that the art created by the school can give some solace during a difficult time.

“I just wanted to give them a little bit of peace and comfort when they go to work,” she said. “I wanted them to see the scene of breakfast because that’s what brings hope and peace to me. Those things just make me happy and I hope it’ll make the doctors and nurses happy too. It means a lot if I can bring a smile to their face.”

Grade 9 student Alayna Hillier, who has family members on the healthcare front line, said her inspiration was to honour her relatives who are taking on COVID-19. Her design features hands holding together.

“With my piece I wanted to show off some sort of symbolism putting together hope and happiness,” she said. “I have a lot of close family on the front lines and I wanted to resemble that in my art piece.”

Horner thanked Tina Vanderpol and Gerri Charles, whose partnership and original desire to honour front-line workers led to the project. He also thanked Brickhouse Signs and Liz Harris, executive director of Fraser Valley Health Care Foundation, for permitting the students’ work to be shared on the hospital site.

“The students of ASIA Sumas Mountain are proud to have been able to work with the Abbotsford Regional Hospital and Cancer Centre and given the opportunity to use their artistic skills in a positive way,” he said. “The students proudly acknowledge the dedication and commitment of our front-line workers and simply hope that their artwork will help bring a smile to the faces of such a hard-working and vital part of our community.”

ASIA Sumas students Rachel Kehler, Maia Bergen, Alayna Hillier and Anilee Nesbitt display the art they created as a thank you to front line health care workers. The art will be display in and around the Abbotsford Regional Hospital and Cancer Centre. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
Students Addisen, Emily and Avery Vanveen, along with Gerri Charles and Liz Harris stopped by the hospital to drop off the art pieces. (John Morrow/Abbotsford News)

Ben Lypka

About the Author: Ben Lypka

I joined the Abbotsford News in 2015.
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