Young artists' work looks at growing up

By Pippa Brown

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REFLECTIVE: Cindy Huang, organiser of 1000 Words Gallery - "What it's like growing up as a teenager in today's society" exhibition at The Arts Village with her upside-down work Odette. PHOTO/STEPHEN PARKER
REFLECTIVE: Cindy Huang, organiser of 1000 Words Gallery - "What it's like growing up as a teenager in today's society" exhibition at The Arts Village with her upside-down work Odette. PHOTO/STEPHEN PARKER

There's some good stories behind the prints and paintings at the latest exhibition at The Arts Village.

The 1000 Words Gallery - "What it's like growing up as a teenager in today's society" features artwork by 13 Rotorua high school students from Rotorua Girls' High School, Rotorua Boys' High School, Rotorua Lakes High School, Western Heights High School and John Paul College.

Organiser Cindy Huang said she'd wanted to organise a gallery exhibition but it turned into "something bigger".

The 18-year-old former Jean Paul College student said the artists felt the subject related to them all as well as the community.

"Art and words speak 1000 words and so do teenagers."

Both parents and teens will identify with Maddy van Harselaar's pop art interpretation, Stereotype "What do you mean - no Wifi?', and Mockery "No one liked my selfie".

She said teenage life was so influenced by friends and peer groups and the pressure of school work they forget how to be themselves - "this is a reminder they grow up too fast".

"It's difficult for our generation because of technology. Photoshop changes an image and gives people an unrealistic expectation of beauty."

This mental image is transferred on to her work, Odette, and how young girls conceive beauty and the way it's often distorted.

"There's this unrealistic view and expectation. The upside-down water drop symbolises distortion and the painting can be hung either way," she said.

Some of the artwork is influenced by the artists' childhood experiences and how past influences the future, but the interpretation of each is left to the observer.

Ms Huang said the mystery of the works gave it a certain allure - a challenge - almost like a puzzle people need to figure out.

The young artist has always been interested in art, originally impressed by her artist grand-uncle.

She was only inspired to take up the brush seriously three years ago, thanks to her "amazing" art teacher Claire Worrall and will continue to study fine arts at Auckland University this year.

"I've always liked realistic paintings and she is a master of realism and teaches in the traditional sense."

As much as technology may have complicated life for these teenagers, Ms Huang has applied its advantages to teaching herself by watching time lapse video on You Tube.

She now utilises technology under user name artofcindyhuang through her channels on Facebook, You Tube and Instagram.

"I feel like we've produced a really high standard of work at the exhibition and the public will be quite surprised and relate well to it."

All profits from the student-based project will be donated to St Vincent De Paul to go toward funding the Project Fulfill mobile kitchen service van. Ms Huang, who had spent time as a volunteer at the charity, said it was an amazing cause.

"They are helping the younger generation and very much helping the future."

1000 Words Gallery opened last night at The Arts Village, Hinemaru St, and runs until February 15. For more information go to www.artsvillage.org.nz.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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