Michaela Medina stands in front of the VIU koi pond, smiling.

Expressing emotions through art

August 24, 2021
Author: Rachel Stern

Michaela Medina’s work part of art exhibit during RockVIU

Michaela Medina has always loved art.

However, it wasn’t until last year that she found her medium – ceramics. She was introduced to the “ancient simplicity” of the art form during a course with VIU Visual Art Professor Scott Leaf.

“Ceramics has, to a certain extent, allowed me to let go of my fear of failure and rigid perfectionism so I could truly explore and discover my artistic style,” she says.

The third-year student is completing a Bachelor of Education degree with a minor in history. She hopes to become a high school teacher and help young learners explore different concepts through art literacy. 

Michaela is one of three artists displaying their work during RockVIU’s interactive art exhibit. RockVIU is the University’s series of new student orientation events, taking place August 23 to September 3, 2021. The exhibit runs September 3 from 11 am to 5:30 pm at VIU’s Malaspina Theatre, Building 310. It features visual art displays and dance performances that reflect on what it means to “Matter Here” at VIU. 

We caught up with Michaela to learn about her art, inspiration and future aspirations.

What’s the story behind your creations and how do you feel you’ve expressed this?

I strive to express my message to students by using familiar imagery, which is intrinsic in nature, combining these with the application of light, in colours often associated with various emotions, on white ceramic. An ugly toad identifies the passing worries and anxieties that come with embarking on a new adventure. When I began university, I valued my independence and feigned confidence even though I felt overwhelmed about leaving my home and friends behind. The “frog-in-throat” feeling was soon replaced with excitement and hope. A small butterfly contains a light to spark hope and dispel thoughts and feelings that might hinder a student’s journey. This hope, brought on by breakthroughs in my relationship with God as my understanding of Him increased, was the anchor that motivated me to do well where I was regardless of my circumstances. A graceful bird represents the first healthy reflection a student might have after being welcomed to VIU, hopefully expressing a sense of peace and excitement. Feeling welcomed into my university community is what gave me the confidence I needed to explore and grow in my passions and chosen areas of study. Overall, my art reflects my journey as a first-year student that I hope others can identify with and learn from.

What reaction are you hoping to evoke from your audience when they see the exhibit?

Through my art, I hope to evoke a sense of assuredness that students have come to the right place as they insightfully reflect upon their transition from high school to VIU. This confidence will in turn allow them the freedom to explore and integrate with our community as they courageously take on the challenges of university and sculpt their personal and professional identities. My goal is to guide them through these emotions as they reflect on their lives and experiences with a focus on growth, to give them hope and inspiration to reach their full potential here.

What attracted you to your artistic medium? 

I had dabbled in clay throughout my education in art, but never understood many of the nuances involved in the molding, drying and firing processes until recently. The history, creation process and the wonderful ability for what I have made to be used in daily life have all contributed to this medium being one of my favourites.

What drew you to VIU and this program in particular?

I have always loved art and picked up on its technical skills fairly quickly and easily. My intention in VIU’s art program was to use the skills I had built up to expand creatively, something I had never felt free to do in high school. 

What are your future artistic aspirations? 

As my creative outlet, art has helped expand my ability to express concepts differently than in a strictly academic sense. Therefore, my goal is to become an art and history teacher to develop the artistic literacy of high school artists, inspiring them to be explorers, innovators and critical thinkers.

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