I am settling down on a shaded table in the Ayrshire Courtyard with Charlotte Kwong ’16, last month’s Main Hall artist. She brushes her tousled black bangs away from her forehead, revealing inquisitive dark eyes. Her gaze immediately zeros in on my purse, an over-sized canvas tote embellished with rows of lime green and aqua-colored zippers and brown and white-striped interior lining.
I watch as she scans my purse, recognizing her sharp artistic eye and perceptiveness. “Cool bag,” she says.
With this same attention-to-detail and focus, Kwong compiled her debut exhibit for the Main Hall gallery. A collection of conscientious pieces, each one alluring and impeccably crafted, the exhibit caught the attention of the extended Westridge community.
The collection, unveiled on Aug. 31, highlighted Kwong’s immaculate technique and sensitivity to content. Each work communicates a story inspired by people close to her or experiences she has had.
Charlotte began drawing at a young age, enrolling in her first figure-drawing class in the fourth grade. She has developed as an artist, refining her technical skills and learning to convey messages through her work.
She emphasizes the deeper meaning behind her art, explaining that “stories are more important than technique. It’s harder to send a story than just draw something — like a cat or a dog.”
Kwong describes her style as “in between realism and whatever a normal middle schooler thinks about. I’m really trying to understand the more complicated stuff.”
As Kwong continues to grow as an artist and create new pieces, she aims to venture out into more abstract ideas. In order to achieve this objective, Kwong wants to remain informed on current events and news.
“In the beginning, I started out doing very realistic work; nothing with a story. It was just the picture, what you saw was what you saw…Eventually, subject matter became more important than technique. I think technique accompanies subject matter,” she said.
For the Main Hall gallery, she displayed a 10-piece collection produced throughout the course of the past three years. Though the exhibit does not contain a concrete theme, Kwong’s Chinese-American background and her family history inspired several of the works.
Her acrylic painting on canvas, entitled “My Great Grandparents,” depicts an elderly Chinese couple posing stoically in the center of the frame. From the wrinkled creases on her grandfather’s forehead to her grandmother’s shiny, slicked-back bun, Charlotte has meticulously crafted each aspect of her great grandparents’ appearance.
“I like connecting with my family heritage through art because it is the most personal thing to do. My family history is the thing closest to who I am,” she said.
While she remains unsure about pursuing art as a career, Kwong hopes to continue furthering her skills and sharing her passion with others.
“The most satisfying thing for me is knowing that art is a quality I like about myself and that I find to be an admirable quality in others because they all have their own styles as artists,” she said.