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Portraying the faces of Winkler

Lauren MacGill


Anyone who visits Winkler Arts and Culture might see some familiar faces on the walls of the gallery.

The second annual Faces of Winkler exhibit officially opened at Winkler Arts and Culture on March 2.

WAC chose 12 people from the community to be assigned to both an artist and photographer. The final result is a photo and art piece that the artist feels captures the essence of their subject.

“One of the rules about Faces of Winkler is that there are no rules,” WAC chairperson Tomm Penner said. “It doesn’t have to be a portrait, or a traditional piece of art, or a traditional photo. It’s just something that captures that person’s likeness or passion or hobby or anything.”

One of the Winkler Flyers is featured in the exhibit, and their artist chose to create a metal sculpture of him playing hockey.

“I’m amazed at the creativity of people and the wide variety of pieces,” Penner said.

The exhibit started to share stories of those from the community. “We bump shoulders with everyone every day,” Penner said. “But often we don’t know that person, we only know them in a certain aspect. This is to show that there’s a different side to them.”

“Everything in life is about people,” he added. “Art is about telling a story. What you’re doing is taking artists and photographers to capture a story, which is at the heart of what they do. It’s fireworks, it’s magic.”

Penner said the selection process was based on public input. “Last year was the first one so we had to come up with 12 people and search around the community to see who we would pick,” Penner said. “This year we had a nomination process on our website. Many people were nominated.”

One of those nominated was Nic Klassen, whose photo by Scott Jantzen shows him engaging in one of his favourite hobbies, sledge hockey.

“It’s really amazing,” Klassen said. “It’s more than I ever expected.”

Klassen said he was approached by Jantzen in December for the exhibit. “He asked me if I would be interested in being one of the faces and I was totally up for it,” he said. “It’s so surreal. It feels great to be seen as someone that’s worth having a picture here.”

Klassen’s artist Scott Bell created a portrait of him the day before the exhibit opened in an hour.

“When I saw it I was amazed at how close to perfect he got it,” Klassen said.

Penner also created a piece that is part of the exhibit. His subject, Ray Wieler, is president of Children’s Camps International. The piece is made of one million microbeads to represent the one million people who have attended camp through CCI.

Penner said that the exhibit could feature anyone from the community. “Literally every single person would have been amazing because everyone has a story,” he said. “All of us have an amazing story. We try to capture people from all walks of life. It isn’t about prestige or being in the public eye, we choose anyone from students to business leaders to immigrants to people who grew up in the community.”

“These are all people who make our community what it is now,” he added. “Men, women, everyone. We want to have a diverse representation here.”

Penner said the response has been great for the past two years, and he is expecting nominations to go up next year.

The exhibit is open to the public until the end of April at WAC.