Lily Yu: Art conveys emotion

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Credit: Courtesy of Lily Yu

Sophomore Lily Yu creates a drawing of an old woman. Yu won a National Gold Medal from Scholastic for this piece. “I think art is a lot like music because it makes up for the shortcomings that every language has,” Yu said. “Sometimes, it is able to convey emotions that we can’t express in words.”

Eliya Howard-Delman

Sophomore Lily Yu discovered her passion for art in kindergarten when she first started to draw. The freedom of expression that art gives to a person initially pulled her in. Yu has traditionally done art recreationally, but she decided to become serious about it when she started working with her first art teacher.

“My mom found [a private art] teacher through one of our family friends, and I thought it would be a good opportunity,” Yu said. “I don’t take any art classes at the high school because I don’t have enough room in my schedule.”

Some artists are drawn in by the process of making their art. However, Yu gets a rush from looking at her final product.

“I have been pursuing art with a professional teacher for probably two and a half years,” Yu said. “Otherwise, I started in kindergarten with crayons. You kind of get addicted to that feeling of pride you get whenever you complete a piece of artwork. Ever since I was seven years old, and I drew this fish that I thought was amazing, I was like ‘I want to keep doing this!’”

While there are many forms of artwork and several different mediums, Yu prefers to use colored pencils in her work.

“I like colored pencils because of how accurate and detailed you can get,” Yu said. “Water color requires a lot of practice, but then you have to do everything within twenty minutes. And if you make one mistake, it’s pretty difficult to fix, and acrylic is just a pain.”

Yu believes art helps to give a voice or spotlight to concepts that may be overlooked in an ordinary setting. She likes to bring attention to common objects and make them extraordinary.

“Right now, any art that I feel satisfied looking at is what I enjoy creating,” Yu said. “If I can feel like my art highlights something that people wouldn’t normally see or notice, then I’m content.”

Her specialty is drawing, but that might change depending on opportunities that Yu has in the future.

“I haven’t been able to experiment too much with the kind of art I create, mainly because I’ve only been taking professional drawing lessons for two years,” Yu said. “[In regard to] different styles, I’m still trying to find myself.”

In addition to honing her skills in the art of drawing, Yu has submitted her artwork in contests. One of her most recent works is being published in a book.

“It’s [a competition of] artists all around the state, and you submit your work online,” Yu said. “You can only submit one piece, and the judges look at the pieces and select the art that they think is good enough, and they publish it into a book.”

Yu’s work that was chosen by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards is a drawing of an old woman staring at her hands, and the process behind making the art was a long road.

“It probably took me thirty to forty hours over the course of three months,” Yu said. “My mom showed me a picture of this old lady, and I [thought] ‘oh that will be great! Should I make it more meaningful?’ The picture itself just looks cool.”

Scholastic rewarded approximately 1,100 Gold medals, and there were around 340,000 submissions last year. The winners of the medal get to go to New York in June for a couple days of showcases and ceremonies. Yu is one of the few young artists selected to attend.

“I wasn’t really expecting it,” Yu said. “My mom said, ‘Lily come over here!’” When she said I got a national gold medal, I just started dancing in her room. My mom legitimately thought it was a mistake, but I checked my scholastic account, and they had huge congratulations at the top.”

For Yu, creating art is about more than winning. It is a passion of hers, and art serves as a stress-relieving outlet from the outside.

“For me, art helps me forget about school and everything else going on because it requires so much focus,” Yu said. “Art is also one of the few times I’m confident in almost all the time. It really helped me get out of some dark times. And it still serves as a mental health boost whenever I need it.”

Yu believes that art is very connected to self expression.

“I think art is a lot like music because it makes up for the shortcomings that every language has,” Yu said. “Sometimes, it is able to convey emotions that we can’t express in words. It’s also just amazing to look at artwork and appreciate the time and effort that the artist took to complete a piece. It can be so much more interesting than black and white text.”