Art work on display

The Alberta Teachers Association Timberline Local #9 is marking mental health week with a celebration of art from local students.

Mike Wheeler, the current president of the Timberline local, is once again putting together an Art Walk in Drayton Valley. Artwork from students in the community is going to be posted along the walking trails from Northview Pond over to 43 Street. In Breton, the artwork will be on display between the two schools.

“It’s essentially going past all of the schools this year, which is kind of exciting,” he says. “Everyone gets to experience the art.”

Wheeler says the event is a way to celebrate arts and Mental Health Week, which runs from May 13 to 19. He says several communities in the Timberline Local #9 area will be running their own version of the art walk.

“This walk is happening in Drayton Valley, Breton, Condor, and Rocky Mountain House,” says Wheeler.

Each of the schools in the community are given corrugated plastic signs as the canvas for the artwork. Wheeler says each school divides them up differently, with some giving out one sign per class, and others having one class do the art. However, in the end, each school has artwork to show.

“We purchase the signs from a local business and deliver seven or eight signs to each school,” says Wheeler.

He says the children are asked to paint whatever they want on the signs. While some schools will have their students focus on a theme, Wheeler says he’s never suggested one for the walk because the event is also about artistic expression. Once the painting is completed, each sign is painted with a clear, weather-resistant coating to ensure it doesn’t get damaged while outdoors.

The other side of the event is getting people outside and exercising, something that has been proven to help with mental health.

“We have beautiful walking paths, so let’s get them out walking,” says Wheeler.

He says what they like about the event is that everyone in the community has access to these trails whenever they have the time. People that may not be able to walk the path during the day can still see the artwork at night, and there is no cost for the event.

As the event has been going on for several years, Wheeler says his collection of artwork has grown. He never throws out any of the signs unless they are worn out, and the artwork gets reused again over time.

“Fine arts education sometimes takes a backseat to reading, writing, and counting, which I understand,” says Wheeler. “But one should not be more important than the other and I think they should coexist.”

Wheeler says Timberline doesn’t represent staff from the St. Thomas Aquinas Roman Catholic School Division, so those schools will not be participating in the display.

Amanda Jeffery, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Drayton Valley and District Free Press