The kids are alright: children’s art is thriving at local school

Michael Martchenko and parent Jennie Popova with the keepsake book.
Michael Martchenko and parent Jennie Popova with the keepsake book.

Aspiring young artists from across the GTA recently took part in the first Children’s Art Competition held by Leaside’s Canadian Contemporary School for the Arts (CCSA) on Vanderhoof Ave., with an awards gala held on April 7 and a month-long exhibition at the school organized by its director, Nahal Bahrman.

The contest, with the theme “My City,” was open to all and advertised in TDSB schools, Leaside Life and on Facebook. From almost 700 entries, 96 were evaluated for prizes in three age categories by the judges – well-known illustrators Michael Martchenko, Barbara Reid and Kevin Sylvester.

Juliette Roux,14, with her rst place drawing.
Juliette Roux,14, with her rst place drawing.

First, second and third prizes were awarded in three age categories. Natalie Yundi Chen took first place in the ages 4 to 8 category, Vita Huang in the 9 to 12 category and Juliette Roux in the teenager group. Both Vita and Juliette were “excited and proud” to see their work hanging in the gallery, a sentiment echoed by many parents and students. Parent Jennie Popova was also happy her daughter could share her artistic interest with others.

The winners received art supplies and a commemorative book, “My City,” featuring the exhibited pieces, which is also available on Amazon.com.

Vita Huang, 10, with her first prize drawing.
Vita Huang, 10, with her first prize drawing.

Nahal Bahrman was “pleased with the success of the contest and the turnout at the gala.” The art teacher, with a master’s degree in illustration, emigrated from Iran 13 years ago. Surprised at the lack of an art program for her daughter in the area, she opened the school last spring as “a mini-college for children where they could study all the different visual arts in one place” and display their work in “Toronto’s only art gallery dedicated to showing artwork by children.”

According to the website, CCSA seeks to provide “a warm and welcoming environment,” “to plant the seeds of lifelong creativity” and “to nurture the whole child.” A team of teachers and a wide array of programs ensure that creativity is nurtured for young people from 2 to pre-university. There are even options for adults.

During the recent March Break, a class of 10 children explored the topic of “Flying to the Moon” through drawings, fashion design, architecture, storyboards and film. This is what Bahrman calls a “Creative Practice” week, and there are several offered in the upcoming summer program, such as “Exploring the Jungle,” which combine environmental studies with various art techniques, in addition to courses focusing on the different art forms.

Visit www.ccsa.art for more details on the programs and the art-themed birthday parties at CCSA.

About Janis Fertuck 41 Articles
Janis Fertuck is a retired English teacher who spent the last 30 years of her career at Leaside High School. She enjoys writing about the vibrant Leaside community where she and her husband have lived for 22 years. Her other favourite pursuits include a part-time job at a boutique on Bayview and volunteering with the Bayview Pixies.