The walls at MRSS were covered with seismically nonthreatening posters. (Contributed)

In Education: The great art shake out

Studentsat Ridge have grown accustomed to seeing their peer’s art displayed on the walls.

Last month, on Oct. 19, more than 890,000 people in B.C. practiced their earthquake procedure during the Great ShakeOut.

Residents of B.C. are often reminded of the impending earthquake that threatens our coast. The last earthquake on our coast that was similar to the predicted quake was a Magnitude 9 nearly 500 years ago.

Its affects were felt throughout B.C., Washington, Oregon and California, in the form of tremors, as well as a massive tsunami generated by the movement of the tectonic plates.

Because of the particular susceptibility of B.C. to seismic activity, the ShakeOut is important as a reminder to review and update emergency preparedness plans and to secure your space in an attempt to prevent injuries.

All new buildings throughout the Lower Mainland have been built with seismic regulations in mind.

Newer schools, hospitals and fire halls are designed so that an earthquake will only cause minimal damage and the buildings would be able to remain operational.

One of the ways that these buildings are trying to limit damage in the case of an earthquake is by restraining objects that are not structural components of the building, such as bookshelves, filing cabinets and picture frames.

This section of the B.C. Building Code is often ignored or neglected by building owners, but it has recently become a matter of debate for art students at Maple Ridge secondary. Students who walk through the art hallway at Ridge have grown accustomed to seeing their peer’s art displayed on the walls.

As a result, many students were surprised when they came to school two weeks ago to find the walls completely empty. Those students who knew the reason for the removal of their art created a new exhibit in order to protest the change.

They covered the walls with seismically nonthreatening posters that read, “DO NOT POST ART HERE!” “NO ART ALLOWED.”

Once these were removed, the next round of artwork went up. Stenciled spray painted pieces on cardboard accompanied by signs that read “GRAFFITI IS NOT ART” and one banner with space for anyone to comment on “Why the Art Hallway is Important to You.”

This inspired students to share the importance of art in their lives.

“Art allows me to express myself,” “Art lets me show who I truly am,” “I look at this art everyday as I walk to class and it always makes my day just a little better.”

Anyone walking through this hallway would hear the repeated choruses of “We’re not gonna take it anymore” playing from a speaker behind the vending machines.

Many students who were not involved in the arts programs took notice of these displays. When they found out why these special exhibits had been put up, even those with no involvement in the arts were indignant. They either had friends who were senior art students who had already started planning their week-long exhibit for the year or took pleasure from seeing the range of talents that the school has to offer.

Regardless of their reason, students did not pay much heed to the safety regulations when they saw their freedom of self-expression being limited.

Now if you were to return to the art hallway today you would not see any of the remnants of the protest pieces that covered the walls two weeks ago. The decade-long tradition of student exhibits has been restored, at least temporarily.

The aftershock of these events may still come, but for now earthquake proof hangers and glassless frames seem to be enough to satisfy both the seismic codes and the students’ need to express themselves through art.

Bronte Miner is a senior at Maple Ridge secondary.

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