What started off as another curveball in the three-year COVID-19 pandemic led to an amazing opportunity for a number of talented artists and their teacher at Lake Cowichan School (LCSS). This past January the Life Science 11 class was scheduled to go on a field trip to the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea. Unfortunately for them, a new variant in the COVID-19 virus saw an uptick in cases and new restrictions were put in place, cancelling the trip.
Noting the disappointment, Tina Kelly, director of Learning & Communications for the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea, reached out to teacher Rebecca Scheer with an idea for a project that would aid the students’ learning, while flexing their creative muscles. What came of that conversation was the impetus for a new art project. Students in the Grade 8/9 and Grade 11/12 art classes created a mural that showcased the diversity of seaweeds in the Salish Sea and the various species of fish, mammals, and invertebrates that call that ecosystem home.
“I thoroughly enjoyed working alongside my peers on this mural for the Centre for the Salish Sea. It was an incredible opportunity to increase my understanding of the makeup of kelp and the importance of protecting these important species,” said Mackenzie Callihoo artist and LCSS Grade 11 student.
This new multi-panel mural was painted over several weeks with students doing research on both the creatures and their habitat to ensure they accurately represented both.
“Being a biology and art teacher, it was great to merge the two together in a project. I enjoyed seeing all the students’ different styles in the mural working together to create one piece. I also enjoyed learning about the different seaweed species and the variety that is found in the Salish Sea and it was great to discover this alongside the students,” said Rebecca Sheer, LCSS Art and Biology teacher.
The five foot by 24 foot acrylic canvas mural now hangs at the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea, and students have been provided free passes to the centre in order to check out their artwork on display and to finally get the trip they’ve been waiting for.
“In the absence of formal school programs and visits, it was wonderful to connect with a teacher and a class in an alternative way. We are delighted to know the students learned more about Salish Sea biodiversity in the process of creating this incredible mural,” Kelly said. “The learning done by Rebecca’s students over the semester is sure to inspire others. Our educators have started to think on ways the mural can act as a tool for teaching visitors. And it will undoubtedly make some visitors keen to pick up a paintbrush.”