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Bridging Generations: The Value of Mentorship - Part 2

Kristen Lawson

Aug 16, 2019

BC Ambassador Series Dance Digital & New media Drawing Interdisciplinary Music

Part 2 of 2. Part 1 was published August 12, 2019.

Ten emerging artists were chosen to act as ambassadors for BC Culture Days this year. Ambassadors are tasked with producing a Culture Days event and acting as spokespeople for Culture Days in their respective communities. Through a partnership with CSARN (Canadian Senior Artists Resources Network), the program now offers a mentorship component as well. Each ambassador was matched with a senior artist, with whom they will be working, over a three-month period. Together each pair developed a work plan to support their professional development through knowledge sharing, guidance, collaboration, and community networking. They shared with us their experiences so far:

Lynda Raino, Dancer & Choreographer

Mentee: Dyana Sonik-Henderson

Lynda Raino is sharing her keen choreography skills with the next generation. “I enjoy looking at what someone else creates and seeing what it needs. Being able to help someone while they’re creating is really special.”

She finds mentorship gives older artists a sense of purpose. “When you’re standing on the other end, it’s really nice to be calling the young ones forward, and saying ‘come, come’.”

Lynda continued, “Let’s face it, getting older is not easy for anybody and they’re lying through their teeth if they say it is. [Mentorship] is another facet of the art form that I have loved, that I can do without having to do the choreography, and the splits, and the flip backwards, and the stuff that I can’t do anymore.”

One of the reasons Dyana became an ambassador is the focus on development. “I’m glad to have the opportunity to work with such an established creator in my community. She is accepting of my method, and is not eager to change, but to guide, my processes.”

According to Lynda, mentoring means fine-tuning the creator’s concept. “It’s not about critiquing her choreography, it’s dealing with how she wants to speak in her art.”

Lynda Norman, Musician

Mentee: Mundia Kabunda

Lynda Norman has mentored many artists over the years. Her bio states that, “Her vision has always been to create spaces and opportunities for each and every person to experience the benefits of creativity in ways that are meaningful, fulfilling, healing, positive, and essential to a thriving community.”

For this mentorship program she is working with Mundia, “connecting her with other places in the community where she can expand, and find the location, and the manpower, and the resources that she needs.”

Mundia is working with local youth to create an original performance, making her a kind of mentor as well. “It is going well. I am in the stage where I am connecting with the youth as well as their parents/guardians. I am building relationships, and trust, and finding out where they are at spiritually, emotionally, physically and mentally.”

Lynda believes, “Through sharing comes learning, and growth, and community. It’s the best way to bring people together.”

When asked if she will be involved in the final show, Lynda replied, “It really depends on where she feels I’ll be the best fit. She knows what I have to offer. I’m happy to do whatever she needs to make it the best production possible.”

Gabryel Harrison, Painter

Mentee: Tiffany Blaise

Gabryel Harrison believes in the value of giving back. Tiffany came into the ambassador program knowing who she wanted as a mentor, and Gabryel agreed. “It was an inspiring opportunity to give something back to the practice of painting that’s been really good for me, and to help someone in the earlier stages of their career.”

When asked about their working relationship, Gabryel replied, “She has some very clear ideas of what she would like to learn. She’s very self motivated. It’s inspiring for me to see someone with that kind of passion and commitment. It’s easy to want to be helpful.”

Tiffany shares her knowledge with beginner painters in turn. “I love creating an opportunity for people to have fun, be creative, and create something new that they can bring home with them. It’s exciting when people discover something, like that they love painting.”

Gabryel went on to say that they “have a similar sensibility around the desire to achieve a certain depth in our painting. I think that seeing my work, and trying the things we talked about in her own work, can be helpful.”

Norm Roen, Animator

Mentee: Brock Gratz

Norm Roen has been a teacher for many years, but this is his first time trying one-on-one mentorship. “That’s something new for me. I had an exciting teaching career at Harbin University of Science and Technology in China. I started teaching at the Kelowna Centre for Arts and Technology in 2002.”

He also has some experience mentoring young artists in a group setting. “I did a summer school of animation for Summer Art Scene for Youth which is a little bit like this mentorship, and that turned out well.”

Brock is focusing on art in media and technology. It was difficult to find a senior with a decades-long career in digital animation, which is why he was paired with Norm, who has worked in classical animation, for clients such as Universal and Disney.

“I’m not sure how much he has already learned about hand-drawn animation. I have a fairly specific idea of what we could do. In our classroom, where we create animation, hand drawn on paper, we then capture it in what’s called a capture station, and then it becomes a digital file. The big question is what does Brock want to do?”

Paul Wong, Visual Artist

Mentee: Oli Salvas

Oli applied to the ambassador program because he was finding it challenging to grow and find places to show his work as an emerging artist.

Paul Wong had him work on production coordination for his event Pride in Chinatown. “That was something that he wanted to do, to know how to organize, and communicate, and participate in such a big effort. He was able to work directly with me, as the producer, and the way that I organize, communicate, and execute my plans.”

Oli found the experience enriching. “It’s allowing me to look at all of the ideas around promotion, public speaking, and online etiquette when it comes to promoting the arts.”

When asked to describe their working relationship, he said, “It has been incredible to work with Paul Wong as my mentor. He has an incredible work ethic, and I am learning from him every time I get to work around him.”

Paul seemed equally happy with the partnership: “He had very clear goals and intentions. The energy and skills that he brought to the project were invaluable.”

“It was definitely important and an asset to have a man who identifies as queer. He was comfortable, I was comfortable, the artists were all comfortable because of that.”