Artists Roxi Sim Hermsen

Artists Roxi Sim Hermsen

Students are a credit to their teacher

Retired A.L. Fortune teacher Roxi Sim Hermsen shares space in Vernon's Hub with her former media arts students.

Say what you want about social networking sites such as Facebook, but for one retired teacher, it has been a way for her to connect with her former students.

As the former media arts instructor at Enderby’s A.L. Fortune Secondary School, Roxi Sim Hermsen says she loved encouraging the talents already inherited by her students, and cross connecting them through her teaching.

“We would do stuff like making videos of dancers in the class and combining our skills,” she said. “As a teacher, I felt it was not what I teach, but about planting the seeds and giving encouragement.”

A well known visual artist, Hermsen has continued to tout the talents of her students –– some of whom have gone on to pursue artistic fields.

One of them, Rick Dugdale, is now a Hollywood producer, and two others, Theresa Simpson and Kristi Christian, are about to join her for an event at Vernon’s The Hub Arts Collective on Saturday to open Hermsen and Simpson’s new art exhibition, Texturize.

“Roxi is the perpetual cheerleader. She is always promoting her students’ talents,” said Christian, who is a belly dancer and will perform at the exhibition opening.

“I believe when your students outdo you, you know you’ve done a good job. Not many teachers get to see their students evolve,” said Hermsen, adding what she has done with her students is what The Hub has attempted to do by connecting artists and sharing their talents.

“One of the main elements of The Hub is that it brings together artists of many media –– musicians, dancers, actors –– and puts them all under one roof. This art show is the epitome of what The Hub is all about: art, music, dance, drama, and creating community through the arts.”

Three of the paintings Hermsen is showing are of Christian, who studied modern dance at Grant McEwan University in Edmonton after graduating high school.

“At school I walked by a studio where I saw belly dancers practising. I called home that night and told my parents I wanted to take belly dance classes,” she said.

After returning to her hometown, Christian started teaching creative movement as well as belly dance at her own studio in Enderby. She returned to teaching modern dance two years ago and is now an instructor at the Armstrong Dance Academy, run by Susan Bensmiller.

In addition to the art and dance performance, Hermsen’s son, Bram, a photographer and videographer who runs Hole in the Wall Productions, will be showing his latest project, a music video for Salmon Arm musician Aimee Laws, at the opening.

“He’s also an A.L. Fortune grad, who now lives in Salmon Arm,” said Hermsen. “Enderby is a little incubator for artists. We always did well at the B.C. Festival of the Arts.”

That applies to Simpson, who was a student of Hermsen’s at A.L. Fortune in the ‘80s and now works in finance at the Enderby Credit Union.

Simpson has been self-taught as an artist since high school and is holding her very first public exhibition, although she has sold a number of her paintings and has shown them at her workplace.

“We connected on Facebook, where she posted her paintings. I liked what I saw and invited her to join me in the show at The Hub,” said Hermsen, who describes her style and subject matter as different from Simpson’s, but also similar in that they make bold, colourful and textured paintings using metallic paints.

“Our styles are very different and the contrast will provide for an interesting show. We both love vivid colour and lots of texture, but use it in different ways. I  love detail. Theresa is more of a minimalist,” said Hermsen.

Simpson works with gels and the metallic paints to bring out a three dimensional-like texture in her work.

“I go out on day trips and shoot the textures of what I see. I never draw anything first,” said Simpson, who will also show some of her photos at The Hub exhibition. “I paint from an emotional standpoint. It’s healing to work things out on the canvas.”

Hermsen, whose paintings have appeared in exhibitions all over B.C. and the Caribbean as well as in her own specialized deck of tarot cards, is showing some of her recent work as well as some of her florals.

Like Simpson, she has been dabbling in texture using metallized leaf paints in gold, silver and multi-coloured hues as well as primary colours made from food colouring.

Hermsen will be giving a workshop on her metalized style of painting at The Hub each Sunday in November. Those who sign up to take the workshop will paint six greeting cards and a small painting. Materials will be provided. Hermsen is also  offering other workshops at The Hub, including one on photographing your arts portfolio and also making masking tape maché frames.

Saturday’s Texturize opening takes place at The Hub, 2906-30th Ave. next to the Town Cinema, at 7 p.m. For more information, contact The Hub at (778) 475-6244 or visit