A Deep Dive into their Passion
A year ago, Stephanie Lemoignan hadn’t put much thought into post-secondary. Then, a visit from her younger sister last summer planted a seed that quickly sprouted into a year of creative energy in School of the Arts at Selkirk College.
At the end of June, both Stephanie and Kat Lemoignan will graduate from one-year studio programs at Nelson’s Victoria Street Campus that houses the storied art school. Stephanie will graduate from the Jewelry Program and Kat from the Ceramics Program. Both sisters agree the learning journey that allowed them to dive deep into their passion created an even stronger bond between them in the process.
“It has been so far beyond my wildest expectations,” says 30-year-old Stephanie. “You grow so much, not just in your craft but as a person. I feel like a different person, so much more confident in life. It’s such a beautiful, supportive community to be a part of… I can’t imagine not having this experience. You wake up excited, I can’t wait to get to school. Kat had a lot to do with it.”
The sisters grew up in White Rock with a large family that includes three brothers. The oldest sibling, Stephanie graduated from high school first and instead of heading off to post-secondary decided to pursue her zeal for travel by journeying to Australia for a year. Over the last decade, the desire to explore other cultures has not waned and she has spent extended time in places like India and Nepal.
For the last eight years, Stephanie has been living in Kelowna where she teaches yoga, works at an import shop and travels whenever she gets a chance. Last summer, Kat stopped by with the news that she was setting a course for Nelson in September to attend School of the Arts. The younger sister sparked a flame and they decided to delve into post-secondary together.
“Coming here was the best decision ever and I am glad that I wrangled my sister into coming too,” says 27-year-old Kat. “It would be really hard to be here without her, it provides a good support network. When it gets difficult, we manage to inspire each other.”
Like her big sister, Kat put off post-secondary after high school. She moved to Vancouver and managed coffee shops before making her way to Salt Spring Island where she immediately began soaking up the energy in the renowned creative core just off Vancouver Island.
While taking ceramics workshops on Salt Spring Island, Kat met Selkirk College alumnae Julie MacKinnon and Erin Morris who encouraged her to pursue the craft more formally at their alma mater. After doing a little more research on what the school and Nelson area had to offer, Kat made the decision to formalize a passion that had been simmering for a long time.
“Art was one subject area of high school that made sense to me,” Kat says. “I wondered why I was learning all of this other stuff that I felt that I would never use again. Art was somewhere I could focus and express who I was.”
Under the guidance of equally passionate instructors, both sisters have made the most of their decision to come to the West Kootenay.
“You think you know what it’s going be like, but until you get here you don’t know,” Kat says of the vibe at the Victoria Street Campus. “It’s an amazing opportunity to build your craft and be immersed in something you are passionate about. What comes out of being in school for 10 months in this little art-hub… it’s a potent time.”
With her sharpened skills, a deeper understanding of the craft and newfound knowledge on the business side of being a working artist, Kat will head back to Salt Spring Island after classes finish at the end of June. She has signed a two-year lease on a space in Fulford Harbour with another ceramics artist where they will open a gallery in the front and a have their studio in the back.
Stephanie hasn’t ruled out making a post-graduation move to Salt Spring Island to be with her sister, but is grateful for the time they’ve already spent together in a creative space.
“What a beautiful experience to come and do art school at the same time,” Stephanie says. “We have supported each other and built on our friendship.”
The current focus for both Lemoignan sisters is the annual Craft Year End Show & Sale that takes place on the Victoria Street Campus on June 21. Students in Ceramics, Jewelry, Textiles and Sculptural Metal will be capping off their programs by taking the results of their creativity public. The show opens on Friday between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. and continues on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Everyone is encouraged to check out this highly anticipated annual event.
“It’s pretty impressive to see all work that students are working on for the show,” says Stephanie, who has a front-row seat to the creativity on a daily basis. “It’s incredible to watch how much everyone has grown in their studios and the year-end show is a great opportunity for the community to experience and support all of these emerging artists. It’s mind-blowing.”