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My Nikkel's Worth

By Greg Nikkel
Greg Nikkel

My family and I recently had the privilege to be at the Saskatchewan Legislature for a good news type of event.

I don't mean the "bare-knuckled brawling" as some reports have it, in describing the adversarial interchanges between the premier and the NDP leader, as exciting I'm sure those discussions are in the Chamber.My reference is to a certain exhibit downstairs from the main entrance lobby to the Legislature, in one of the three galleries in the building known as the Cumberland Art Gallery.Herein lies the art of students from around the province, with just over 50 works selected from over 100 submissions to be part of the 2010 Minister's Collection Student Art Showcase. My daughter Deborah had one of three works which were selected from the Weyburn Comp's art submission, and the other two works were by Britney Alexander and her cousin Mercedes Alexander.We were suitably impressed by the exhibition, and as a nice touch by the showcase organizers, all three Weyburn works were grouped together, which made photo-taking of the girls a whole lot easier.The Student Art Showcase was put on by the Saskatchewan Society for Education Through Art, or SSEA, which is marking its 50th anniversary this year, along with the Saskatchewan Ministry of Education. At a reception held for the students and their families in the MacKenzie Art Gallery, with around 190 of us crammed into the Bobbie Taylor Salon for the luncheon, Education minister and Deputy Premier Ken Krawetz spoke briefly and then handed out certificates to each of the students.For anyone who wants to see the best in student art from all grades and all areas of the province, the exhibition is on display at the Cumberland for the month of May, after which some of the works will be selected to be on display in the hallways of the Legislature for the coming year.The SSEA is the same group that is responsible for the Art Education month of activities in May, which annually puts some 4-500 students through Signal Hill's pottery studio.When one sees the breadth and range of talent that all these students have, you know that having arts education in school is definitely worthwhile. And, as minister Krawetz pointed out, studies have shown that a student who is exposed to art education and is given the opportunity to express themselves thereby, is a much better and more well-rounded student academically - and I would wager this applies to all the arts, including the visual and performing arts.Indeed, the SSEA stated as part of their purpose that they work to make the visual arts as important in the minds of the public as math or the sciences are - and I have to agree, the arts are that important. Creativity and culture is as much an integral part of a well-rounded person as purely academic concepts like math, or science, or social studies.In addition, having a public event like this where students are recognized for high excellence in art is an amazing experience for the students, and affirms in them their abilities and creative spirit.