Kootenay Studio Arts at Selkirk College student Shayna Stonehouse in the blacksmithing studio at the Victoria Street Campus in Nelson. After in-person classes were adjourned in mid-March, students in some programs have returned to complete their diplomas. Photo: Selkirk College

Selkirk College studio arts students get back to creating

Shayna Stonehouse, blacksmithing student, reflects on schooling in a pandemic

Submitted by Selkirk College

The mid-March pivot away from in-person instruction at Selkirk College due to the COVID-19 pandemic impacted programs in a variety of ways. For students in Kootenay Studio Arts diploma programs, it meant stepping away from projects at a key juncture of the semester.

Shayna Stonehouse arrived at the studios at Nelson’s Victoria Street Campus to take the Blacksmithing and Bronze Casting programs from her home in Quesnel. Immersed in the creative atmosphere of post-secondary learning, it all came to a screeching halt when classes were adjourned to protect the health and safety of the community.

“It was heartbreaking because many people here walked away from some really good situations to expand upon our education,” says the 29-year-old. “Projects were stopped midway through and that was difficult.”

A Red Seal welder and apprentice millwright, Stonehouse took a pause from a successful career in the trades to explore a burning desire to formally expand her skills. She discovered Kootenay Studio Arts diploma programs and uprooted her life.

“The artistic side has always been an interest and I wanted to learn more about it,” she says. “The teachers at Selkirk College are incredible, so it was a great opportunity to come here.”

Studying and training under blacksmithing instructor Kevin Kratz and bronze casting instructor Denis Kleine, Stonehouse found a learning vibe that enabled her to thrive.

“I love it here,” she says. “It’s a rarity that an artist can come to a shop with other artists to share this kind of energy. When you are working on your own, there is not the same interaction and ability to ask questions. It’s a great mastermind hub.”

The week that in-person classes were adjourned, Stonehouse and her classmates were preparing for a bronze pour. One of the most exciting steps in the creative process, students and instructors had to scratch the plan when required to temporarily shutter the studio.

Instead of returning home to Quesnel, Stonehouse decided to wait out the pandemic pause in the West Kootenay. She found employment with a Balfour-based stone polisher where she had an opportunity to do some finishing work on a seven-foot sculpture by Inuit artist Goota Ashoona that will be featured in the Manitoba Museum in Winnipeg.

As Selkirk College transitions back into a variety of delivery models under strict adherence to provincial government protocols, the Bronze Casting program at Kootenay Studio Arts is one of the areas where in-person training has been deemed safe to resume. In mid-June, students in the program were given the chance to complete their projects and training in the modified studio.

“It’s amazing that they gave us the opportunity to come back to finish what we started and earn our diploma,” says Stonehouse. “The protocols that are in place keep us safe, you just need to take some extra time and be mindful of the situation.”

You can learn more about programs in Selkirk College’s Kootenay Studio Arts at selkirkcollegearts.ca.

Find out more about Selkirk College’s COVID-19 health and safety planning at selkirk.ca/COVID-safe.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

New library to be built in downtown Kaslo

The building will cost $3 million

Nelson lacks enough supporting housing to meet homeless demand: report

The annual study shows permanent shelter is needed for people experiencing homelessness

Two new COVID-19 cases reported in Interior Health

The total number of Interior Health cases since the beginning of the pandemic is now at 522

Nelson outdoor photo exhibit reflects physically distanced life

Portraits of a Pandemic runs until Oct. 15 at Lakeside Park

QUIZ: Do you know what’s on TV?

Fall is normally the time when new television shows are released

Canadian ski resorts wrestle with pandemic-vs.-profit dilemma as COVID-19 persists

Few are actually restricting the total number of skiers they allow on the hill

Victoria-area RCMP locate high-risk sex offender thanks to help of taxi cab driver

Scott Jones wanted on a Canada-wide warrant, ‘a risk to women and girls,’ police say

A (virtual) walk around the world by 88-year-old B.C. man

George Doi says it’s simple: ‘I like walking’

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

End of CERB means uncertainty for some, new system for others

As of a week ago, the CERB had paid out $79.3 billion to 8.8 million people

Horgan, Wilkinson trade barbs over MSP premiums, health care at campaign stops

Horgan called a snap election for Oct. 24 earlier this week

Most Read