Oceanna Fisher James, a Grade 10 student at Carlton High School in Prince Albert, describes her painting about Martin Luther King Jr. (Jayda Taylor/CTV Prince Albert)

A Grade 10 student at a Prince Albert high school is marking Black History Month with a collection of paintings.

Oceanna Fisher James created 10 artworks, each profiling an influential Black person, such as Ruby Bridges, Michael Jackson and Martin Luther King Jr. Her exhibit, titled Legacy, is the first to be displayed at Carlton Comprehensive High School’s new gallery space.

“I’ve always fought for social justices. I’ve always thought this was very important,” said Fisher James.

She cited the Black Lives Matter movement. Fisher James said it’s especially important “to give the representation to everyone” following the world-wide movement and protests.

“I hope that people can see the collection and see a wonderful sense of bravery,” she said.

Fisher James’ exhibit opened on Monday, the first day of Black History Month. The gallery space in Carlton High School will feature a variety of student artwork and is meant to be a “welcoming space” for students to connect, according to principal Jeff Court.

“I think it’s important for students to express themselves with the passion that they have, and so if art is what that is … we want to provide that avenue for them,” he said.

Children from two families helped Fisher James paint the backgrounds for four of the paintings. Growing up, she said, she remembers an unequal representation of the Black community — such as in toy dolls — and wanted to help children celebrate diversity.

“It’s really emotional,” she said about the exhibit. “It’s very special for me to represent all of these amazing people.”

The collection took Fisher James about two months to complete. The idea sparked last year when she approached her teacher about wanting to do more at the school to honour Black History Month.