Photo of a woman speaking in front of a class in an elementary school

Workshops to bring culture to school

Last winter, I was approached by Anne-Marie Gilbert and Sonia Gagnon, two teachers from the École primaire d'éducation internationale in Trois-Rivières to give cultural mediation workshops to their Grade 5 students. They found me thanks to the Répertoire Culture-Éducation, in connection with the program La culture à l'école of Québec's Ministry of Education. This brilliant program allows schools to obtain financial assistance to invite artists to visit classrooms to talk about their creative process and guide student in a hands-on creative project.



As is often the case, Anne-Marie and Sonia had special requests to ensure that the content of the workshops would be relevant to the specific topics they were addressing in their classrooms. The first workshop was to echo their learning module on information and communication media. I proposed to use my photomontage work, and especially my Beyond the Looking Glass series, as a springboard to question the relationship of photography to reality.

Photo of a woman speaking in front of a class in an elementary school
Photo : Sonia Gagnon

Through an illustrated presentation that encouraged interaction, students were made aware of the power of the photographic image and the importance of developing a critical vision at a time when we are more than ever bombarded by highly manipulated digital images.

After recess, imagination started flowing!

The goal of the experimental part of the workshop was to create a surreal photo-collage using a portrait photo and images found in magazines. Before I came to the school, following my recommendations, all the students had been photographed individually and in various poses, which allowed everyone to work with their own image. The students had about an hour and a half to look through the magazines provided, locate, cut out and assemble their compositions. The results are great! I was really impressed by the way the kids rose to the challenge.


With the parents' permission, here is a small selection of the students' work:


The second workshop was to explore the more specific link between technology and art. The topic is exciting. From the advent of perspective painting based on mathematical principles to the hyper high tech immersive art that can be seen at the Society for Arts and Technology (SAT) in Montreal, the arts have always been influenced by technological and scientific advances. I had a lot of fun preparing a presentation that traces the many encounters between the scientific and artistic worlds. An express journey rich in anecdotes and illustrations.

Selection of illustrations from the presentation

Stop-motion video, the basis of animation

Spread over two half-days, this workshop allowed students to carry out a more complex creative project, namely the design and production of a short stop-motion animation video. The stop-motion technique is ideal for understanding the basic principle of animation (as well as video and film): the rapid succession of still images. Equipped with digital tablets, the students took pictures of drawings or small objects that they moved, little by little, on a stable plane to tell a story. Once the images were woven together, the students recorded their own soundtracks. This second challenge was again met with brilliance, the workshop was a real hit!

Selection of excerpts from the students' stop-motion films, starting with Annabelle Lessard's and Gaëlle Ginoux's.

I'm already looking forward to doing it again with new groups. Hopefully no one will have to wear a mask next time... 🤞🏻


Regarding Catherine Rondeau's animations, I really appreciated the care she showed to meet our very specific needs. She listened and adapted to our research modules, which is not easy for an outsider to our program. Catherine accompanied our students in their creative process with great attention to detail and kindness. I was amazed by the quality of our students' creations. We look forward to having her back next year!
Anne-Marie Gilbert

Thanks again to Catherine for her work in our classes. I completely agree with Anne-Marie's kind words. We often have a specific vision and goal and she was a great listener to help us achieve it..

Sonia Gagnon