March Artists of the Month: Iris Lee and Tiffany Phan



Ceramics, an often underrepresented form of fine art, is a way for artists to physically construct a vision with their bare hands. In company with the celebrations that were held for Fine Arts week, taking place between March 11 and 15, senior Iris Lee and junior Tiffany Phan were both nominated as March’s artists of the month by ceramics teacher Ms. Tiffany Huff.
“When I first heard that I was nominated as artist of the month, I was surprised and excited,” Phan said. “It really is a great honor. As an artist, I appreciate that people value my efforts and artwork.”
“I’m definitely not the best artist in our class,” added Lee. “[Senior] Maxim [Jones’] vases are amazing, and Tiffany makes really cool hand built stuff, so I can’t really compete with either of them in their respective crafts. I guess I’m more of a kind of jack-of-all-ceramics kind of person.”
When asked why she nominated two artists instead of the conventional one artist, Huff said, “They both work hard every day, and are creative and talented. To choose between them would not be fair.”
Both Lee and Phan are currently in the intermediate ceramics class, but have been artists for much longer.
“I’ve been doing ceramics at Uni for two years, but before that, I did a little bit of hand building in middle school,” Lee said. “I’ve been doing art since I was six, and I’ve always enjoyed sketching and painting.”
Phan shared a similar story, “I have been doing ceramics since my sophomore year and I have been doing art in general for as long as I can remember.”
Phan and Lee both contributed to Fine Arts week by displaying their ceramic artwork in the 348 Art Gallery in the library, which showcased artwork by students from all of the different classes in the UHS Art Department. When asked to share their favorite piece that they worked on, Phan and Lee chose ceramic pieces displayed at the gallery.
“During Fine Arts week, [students were] able to display artwork that they [had] created through trial and error and show off the pieces of art they are the most proud of. Out of all my ceramic works, my hand-built luminary egg pieces are my favorite,” Phan said. “They required the greatest amount of detail and planning compared to anything else I have created so far. Each egg holds a special memory and reminds me of the relaxing atmosphere that I have experienced in ceramics class.”
Lee chose her dragon teapot as her favorite piece. “It’s one of my only textured pieces and I like how the glaze turned out on the scales, as well as how clean it turned out. I also like how dramatic it looks…it’s just a really nice piece to look at.”
While sharing the basis on which she judged art, Huff said, “I look for originality, [meaningfulness] and/or personal content, good craftsmanship, and it peaks my interest if there is some historical connection.”
Phan and Lee, who have displayed these qualities in their diverse artwork, revealed how their art personally reflects them as artists and individuals.
“My artwork [is] usually pretty practical, but I also try to incorporate a cool design into them, like my dragon shaped teapot,” Lee said. “I think it reflects how practical I am as a person. For most of my pieces, I know what I want to do with it before I make it…They’re also typically very simple in design and color. Almost all of my pieces are smooth and monochrome, and I enjoy the simplicity and predictability of that style.”
Each piece of art expresses a range of emotions I was feeling during the creation of the artwork,” Phan said. “In a way, a piece of myself is incorporated in each of my creations. By looking at my art, I hope I have succeeded in conveying the emotions I felt to my audience.”
To Phan and Lee, art is a major part of their lives, and has made a profound impact on them.
“I just like the act of creating something with my own hands and looking at this thing that I wanted to make, [which was] something that was important or cool to me,” Lee said, who often gains inspiration for her art from regular objects she encounters in everyday life. “I’m almost always thinking of art. I have several projects lined up in my head at any time, projects that include sewing, pottery, painting, pencil sketching and model making…Art around me really is always influencing me and the art I create.”
“Art has always been a huge stress-reliever in my life and has helped me express myself in ways words alone cannot do,” said Phan, sharing similar sentiments. “Art is healing and I believe it has given me patience and the mindset to keep on trying even if I have failed the first time.”