A Canadian teacher is under fire for allegedly using his personal website to sell nearly 100 pieces of art created by students, prompting disbelief and anger from parents.
Students at Montreal’s Westwood junior high school made the chance discovery last night after searching out their art teacher’s website. On it they found their own art, available for purchase on coffee mugs, mobile phone cases and clothing.
“Imagine your 13 year-old son coming home from school today with a story that his art teacher is selling students’ artwork online at $94 per drawing without their prior knowledge!? That is completely insane,” parent Joel DeBellefeuille posted on social media. “I’m sure I’m not the only parent that wants answers.”
The teacher, identified as Mario Perron by CTV News, did not respond to the Guardian’s request for comment. On his website, the Montreal resident describes himself as a “life-long student of art” whose works appear in private collections in Canada, the US, Spain and Italy.
More than 90 works are still visible on the site, with the titles of many works – Julia’s Creepy Portrait, Charlotte’s Creepy Portrait – apparently referring to the names of students who created the art. As of Monday, the links to the art instead route to Perron’s paintings and the student art can no longer be purchased. Other social media accounts linked to Perron’s art have been taken down, including pages on Instagram and Facebook.
“I’m extremely disgusted with this person. It’s extremely, you know, it’s unbelievable,” Michael Bennett, who found work from both his daughters for sale, told CTV News. “Is [Perron] asking for these types of portraits to be done so it meets the market? I’m not quite sure on that aspect. However, I am not impressed at all with this person. I’m not impressed with the school, or the school board … [My daughters] feel cheated.”
The school board said in a statement it was “aware of the situation and is taking these allegations very seriously”, adding an investigation was “underway” and the board would not comment.