How do you change the world?
For Gary Parker, the answer is as simple as beginning right now, in this community, by supporting youth artists.
A recent graduate of Clayton Heights Secondary, Parker is now the Founder and CEO of Community Art, an organization dedicated to breaking down barriers for young artists.
The idea for the organization came to Parker when he overheard a conversation at the Clayton Heights Secondary library during his senior year of high school. Two students were talking to each other, and one complimented the other’s artwork.
It was artist’s answer that stayed with Parker; despite having obvious talent, she said she had no future in art, because there was no money in it.
Parker credits that moment as the catalyst for a passion that would become realized in Community Art.
“I am a strong believer that there should be no barriers to opportunity especially for those who wish to pursue their passion,” said Parker. “Seeing that this barrier existed was and continues to be a big driving factor for me.”
And so, Parker created Community Art to provide a support network for high school artists in the Clayton Heights area.
“As the organization developed, artists outside the Cloverdale region started to reach out. We couldn’t ignore this,” said Parker.
Community Art now serves many communities in B.C., including White Rock, Fleetwood and Cloverdale.
At the heart of the organization is the wish to “change the world.” At the moment, they are creating that change by starting with local students.
For Parker, the importance of his work hit home last December after Community Art’s pop-up Christmas art gallery. At the event, a high school student reached out and spoke about how her experience with Community Art inspired her to hold on to her passion for art and incorporate it with her aspirations for business.
“After hearing [her comment], I recognized that, as a result of breaking down barriers to high school artists, new futures were being created,” said Parker.
Clayton Heights Secondary student Karim Nuruddin, 16, is the latest artist Community Art has supported.
Nuruddin submitted his artwork to Community Art because of a friend’s encouragement, and the local arts organization not only selected his work for professional framing and production but found a local business, Abasa Optical, to show his art.
“I was so used to just doing art behind closed doors. Just expressing myself without an audience,” said Nuruddin. “Now I have a chance to do that. I never really expected it to be this big.”
Karim said his artistic process revolves around music. “I’ll listen to an artist and think, ‘I want to do a piece on that,’” he said.
He’s happy to have Community Art’s support, but he said it’s far more important to have faith in your own ability.
“You’ve got to believe what you believe in,” he said. “I’m passionate about what I’m doing, and that’s all that really matters to me.”
For more information on Community Art and how to support local artists, visit communityartca.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.