Artists for Conservation has been developing and delivering youth programming in association with its annual festival since 2011. Until 2016, this has involved field trips and on-site workshops. In 2017, AFC launched a new model that is free to participate and widely accessible for participation directly in classrooms outside the immediate area of the festival, and across B.C, Canada,
Due to COVID-19, plans for this year are temporarily on hold.
The Silent Skies Student Mural Project is a youth program focused on conservation and the study of endangered species through research, art and community engagement. It specifically targets youth from ages 8-13. Participation is open to all young artists in the BC's Lower Mainland.
A full curriculum-based program is also available for students (grade 3-7) a unique opportunity for direct involvement in a major international event and to have their artwork exhibited among many of the world’s leading wildlife and nature artists. Educators register and download grade-specific teacher resource kits, free of charge. Each student selects an endangered bird species for study and to depict it in art. Educators select and submit scans of the student artwork for inclusion in a youth virtual mural on the AFC website.
A class or individual student will choose a species of their choice from the IUCN Red List to research and determine the multifaceted threats facing this species. Using this foundation of knowledge students will hypothesize a solution to help build the species population through one or multiple aspects of their plight.
Using their hypothesis as a basis for their artists statement the students will create a pictorial composition through a medium of their choice (paint, sculpture, collage). Teachers will select the top works of art to be uploaded into a virtual mural hosted on the Artists for Conservation Festival Website.
Through a juried process, selected artworks will be used to create a mosaic panel mural displayed at the annual AFC Festival in Vancouver.
The project builds directly on an existing large scale initiative titled “Silent Skies” – an international collaborative super-mural mosaic featuring all 678 endangered species of birds of the world and bringing together brings together many of the world’s most recognized nature and wildlife artists. The 100-ft-long installation was originally the artistic centrepiece of the 8th annual Artists for Conservation Festival (AFC Festival) and the 27th International Ornithological Congress (IOCongress) at Vancouver’s Convention Centre. It will also be represented with a virtual exhibit. The initiative involved a partnership between the world’s leading artist group supporting conservation - AFC and the flagship event of the world’s oldest and most important organizations dedicated to bird studies - the International Ornithological Union. The mural is currently on international tour.
The Silent Skies Student Mural Project adds an important layer to the aforementioned mural initiative, by engaging educators and students directly in learning about conservation, endangered species and individual bird species facing extinction.
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