Most student art is destined to hang on parents' fridges or be tucked into grandparents' scrapbooks.
But the students of Langley Meadows Elementary got to be exhibited artists on May 31 for the A Walk in Two Worlds art show.
The gym was transformed into an art gallery, filled with works by every grade as students interpreted First Nations themes, techniques and motifs.
"I was pretty amazed at what we came up with," said Jeffrey Sutherland, a 12-year-old Grade 6 student.
He and Danielle Jabobs were involved in the art show's centerpiece, Art as Medicine, a photo project by several of the school's First Nations students who were asked to base their work on the medicine wheel and its concepts of body, mind, spirit, and heart.
The project has the pair interested in visual media, after they saw how the four concepts were interpreted by the different members of the project.
Sutherland, of the Ktunaxa First Nation based in the Kootenays, wasn't a shutterbug before the project, but was quickly inspired.
"For body, I did hockey," Sutherland said. "That idea came to me right away."
The students came from very different places, some had cameras, some had camera phones, others had no equipment. The school lined up some disposable cameras to help the kids get their ideas on photo paper.
The end result is a group of images, each symbolic to the student who created it, but cumulatively, creating a collage.
"It's pretty diverse," said Jacobs, a Grade 7 student whose ancestry traces to the Mohawk. "It's just so different. We were all doing the same thing but everyone has something different to share."
Sutherland added that seeing non-aboriginal students using First Nations and aboriginal art to express themselves was gratifying because native culture was often maligned throughout history.
"Not long ago the white people were trying to change and change and change us," Sutherland said.
Teacher Tara Helps said a key reason for doing the art projects is to encourage inter-action between the students so they under-stand that just because they come from different cultures doesn't mean they can't get along and can't share those differences.
"We got to see how different people's lives are," Jacobs, 13, comment-ed. "But we're all friends and you get to see what's important to them."
Their work along with that of other students meant the gym was filled with a few hundred pieces which were displayed for the students during the day and the general public during the early evening.
Kindergarten students painted animal motifs on large posters that spell out the Seven Teachings - concepts such as respect, love, and courage.
Foil art shows salmon and other stylized animal motifs, a nod to First Nations copper art.
Australian aboriginal art that's been around for thousands of years inspired posters of frogs which have an mod pop art Andy Warhol vibe.
Grade 3s created paper raven masks while Grade 4 students did North Coast style masks in paper.
Grade 4, 5 and 6 students did environmental images on metal combined with freeform poems made from word magnets.
The most haunting works were Cornell Boxes, black-lined boxes that contained a sentiment, an object and an image. The students were asked to read a book about children in jeopardy then create the boxes. First Nations elders were invited in to speak to the students about their experiences in residential schools.
Helps said it's important for the students to know that children can face difficult lives in any community, not just impoverished countries abroad.
Helps, one of the school district's aboriginal program staff, said the showing of their work was a real boost for the students. And the show seems to have started something of a tradition.
"Everyone keeps saying, 'Next year,' so I'm thinking there's going to be a next year," Helps chuckled.