Hongru Chen, Brooks School
Oct 31, 2019

I can still remember the very morning two years ago. 


Dashing into the gallery, I pushed through the crowd to see one of my landscape paintings hanging against a wall. My painting, inspired by the natural sights of my hometown, caught a glimpse of many wandering eyes with its distinct and colorful brush strokes.


This was my first ever charity art exhibition. Comprised mostly of artworks from students, the exhibition collaborated with local hospitals and non-governmental organizations to raise awareness and support the visually impaired community in Singapore. Looking at my artwork once again, in the gallery with a group of others scattered around me, I felt surreal.


I discovered my passion for drawing and painting at a very young age. At the age of four, I would grab a handful of crayons and draw patterns, cars, and trees on the walls of my home, tablecloths, and my sister’s homework until someone screamed at me. As I grew older, I began taking art lessons which introduced me to a wide range of techniques and materials. Connecting lines and colors into images offered me a unique sense of relaxation and satisfaction. My skills drastically improved, and soon, my classmates would marvel at the detailed drawings in my notebook. I would smile and nod humbly while secretly enjoying every compliment. Eventually, these moments encouraged me to participate in contests where winning awards granted me immense satisfaction and pride. However, it did not take long for me to wonder: is winning the only thing that matters? 


No, it isn’t. 


My mind traveled back to my childhood as I reminisced the pure joy art brought me back then as a carefree child. Till this day, art never failed to make me happy. I told myself, maybe it is time to do something with my art that would not only bring myself happiness and pride but also an impact on my community and joy to others.


When my art teacher first brought up the exhibition, it seemed unimaginable to me. A charity exhibition! To me, opportunities like this belonged only to established and well-known artists that I was far from becoming. The thought of having my artwork displayed in front of a bigger audience to raise awareness about current issues in my community made my energy surge. My excitement manifested itself through the sparkles in my eyes.


After the exhibition, I painted and drew with more confidence. It was not because I knew my artwork was once exhibited in front of so many people, but simply because of the epiphany that what I created mattered to my community. I began making art to make a statement on issues I truly cared about: gender stereotypes, environment, and mental health. Deep down, I believe that there is a voice behind every artwork, and it matters, no matter how small. 


 Art is my voice. 


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