September Artist of the Month: Asia Cowen, Jasmine Hsiao, Anne Jang, and Lillian Nguyen

By LEILI KAMALI and KATHERINE NGUYEN
Staff Writers

Three of the four artists (Jasmine Hsiao (Sr.), Asia Cowen (Sr.) and Anne Jang (Sr.)) working on the mural during the school day (Mr. D. Fratantaro)
Three of the four artists (Jasmine Hsiao (Sr.), Asia Cowen (Sr.) and Anne Jang (Sr.)) working on the mural during the school day (Mr. D. Fratantaro)

In light of the new Trojan Army mural on the handball courts, four students, Asia Cowen (Sr.), Jasmine Hsiao (Sr.), Anne Jang (Sr.), and Lillian Nguyen (Sr.), were collectively selected as the Artists of the Month by Ms. Dana Kramer (Visual and Performing Arts Dept.). The four of them have dedicated rigorous hours to designing, painting, and perfecting the most recent artistic addition to the University High School (UHS) campus.

Nguyen, Hsiao, Jang, and Cowen are one of the first visual artist teams to be nominated for Artist of the Month. Ms. Kramer said, “All four of them were putting in an equal effort into this mural, so it seemed fitting to recognize them together.”

“It is a group effort, so it should be a group nomination. That would only be fair,” Nguyen said. “[We] all knew what we were doing, so we all just picked apart and started painting.”

After designing the mural last spring, Nguyen, Hsiao, Jang, and Cowen realized that they would need to project their drawing onto the wall of the handball courts to first sketch it out, which would not be possible during the day. As a result, the artists spent hours on campus in the evenings, transforming their idea into a reality.

Despite working on such a public piece of art, oftentimes in front of many other students, the artists did not feel nervous or anxious. However, after the initial night sessions, the daytime weather did prove to be an obstacle. “As a result, I got a really bad sunburn,” Cowen said.

Still, they persevered. “It was pretty tough since we were standing in 90 degree weather, for hours on end through office hours and lunch, or getting to school really early to finish it up, and staying late. We ended up putting in about 15 hours within 4 days,” Jang said.

The AP Studio Art students have been involved with UHS visual arts for years. “The area of growth that I see the most is their sense of independence,” Ms. Kramer said. “I can trust the four of them to go work on a mural on the other side of campus that I didn’t even see until it was pretty much finished. Knowing that they can take ownership of their art, tell me whatever supplies they need, and collaborate and work together is where I see the most growth.”

For these artists, their talent stems from a childhood full of sketching and coloring. Cowen said, “I’ve been drawing since [I can remember],” and now realizes that she can’t picture herself pursuing anything besides her passion for art in the future.

Hsiao said, “I took art classes for 3 or 4 years starting when I was in fifth grade, but I’ve [also] been drawing since I was littleI think we all have, honestly.”

After spending two and a half weeks working together on the same project, each artist still prefers a unique style. “I like realism better than abstract,” Hsiao said, while Cowen added that she is not a “realist person” and enjoys drawing with a “cartoony character design.”

In contrast, Nguyen said, “I like working with colors more than I like the actual drawing process. I would much rather color in the lines than draw the lines, if that makes sense.”

The artists agreed that they all hope to pursue art in the future. “I’m planning on double majoring, hopefully in graphic design and something else computer based,” Jang said.

All the time and energy these committed artists have put into their spirited mural will forever live on at UHS, inspiring students for years to come.

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