On May 16, inside the library of Lord Selkirk elementary school, Grade 1 students gathered around paintings of such renowned artists as Vincent van Gogh, Johannes Vermeer, Carel Fabritius and Tom Thomson.
In addition to looking at the works of art, the children were also invited to touch them. Yes, touch them.
As part of a program launched in early May to make art more accessible to kids, Vancouver-based Verus Art brings 3D replicas of paintings normally found in the National Gallery of Canada and the Mauritshuis art museum in the Netherlands to local Vancouver schools.
“It’s a great opportunity for kids to see art,” says Vital Peeters, vice principal of Lord Selkirk elementary school. “Art doesn’t get done enough in the school system… so it’s a great opportunity for kids to see what’s possible and to be motivated and inspired, and hopefully, follow their dreams and passions… to become artists one day.”
According to a press release from Verus Art, the goal of the program is to foster a love of the arts and make a lasting impact on children by introducing them to artists and by making them feel their brushstrokes.
To re-create the paintings, Verus Art uses “a low power, tri colour laser beam, to take hundreds of millions of precise measurements of the color and geometry of the brushstrokes.”
The measurements are then reproduced using an elevated printer. Then, a National Gallery of Canada staff member assesses the quality of the re-creation to ensure it’s an accurate replica of the original piece.
At Selkirk elementary, the children marveled as they touched famous paintings such as “Bowl of Zinnias and Other Flowers” by Vincent van Gogh and “Sunset Sky” by Tom Thomson.
Verus Art also donates art supplies and colouring sheets to the schools they visit.