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Performing in Visual Arts –Year 12 Student Spotlight

23 June 2015

The IB Visual Arts course provides a great opportunity for students to explore ideas in a broad range of art media.

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Often perceived as a subject primarily focused on painting and drawing… Sculpture, Video Installation, Printmaking, Animation and Photography among many other media can be accessed throughout the program of study to express thoughts in a visual format.

Having joined The British International School Shanghai Pudong at the beginning of Year 12 from Norway (where Art and Design is not currently part of the everyday curriculum), Mari Hagen Stokke had little prior experience of traditional art making techniques when she joined us. With a great enthusiasm for the Arts and a long standing passion for, and participation in dance, Mari looked for ways to exploit her interests and play to her strengths within the parameters of the course.

Whilst exploring the area of Interpretations of Culture, Mari chose to learn about video installation to create her piece Safety in Numbers and to realise her developing interest in investigating the concept of ‘Movement’ and ‘Displacement’ as reoccurring themes throughout her body of artworks.

Excitement, curiosity, uncertainty and a desire to belong are common and natural feelings experienced by anybody moving to a new country, culture or social community. Being able to adapt, communicate and, in time, make new friends (even without a shared language!), through mutual respect and a willingness to find common ground are all part of the process of adjustment. In her video artwork Mari explores all of these emotions using dance as the metaphor for the process of acclimatisation and belonging. Set in Puxi’s Fuxing Park in Shanghai, Safety in Numbers has a soundtrack of traditional Norwegian music to further highlight both the contrast and common ground within her own and the new culture.

The courage and sensitivity with which Mari undertook this project embodies all of the characteristics of a successful IB Learner. Taking creative risks, being inquisitive and open minded about unknown cultures and customs, and learning new skills and art media to make accomplished outcomes. Safety in Numbers is a celebration of Displacement through Movement, of broadening our minds through new experiences and social connections, of courage and of perseverance.

At a time of year when many people are arriving or departing in Shanghai, this artwork is a respectful homage to embracing culture, both our own and others. It reminds us of the joy of being a Global Citizen, the thrill of new opportunities and the chance to make memories that will last a lifetime.

We look forward to seeing in which direction and in what form Mari takes her creative journey next year at The British International School Shanghai…