Junior cultivates interest in art through drawing and design

November 24, 2019 — by Christine Zhang

It was nearing 2 a.m. at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) one day last summer. Stressed and tired, junior Tiffany Huang, a participant in RISD’s six-week summer program, finally wrapped up her work on her Drawing Foundations final project, a 6-foot collage made with charcoal and ink. 

The piece depicted how first-world individuals turn their backs on third-world circumstances as represented by six figures pulling each other downwards while a lone figure stands aside, texting. As Huang headed to sleep, she was left with a distinct feeling of contentment. 

“It was really satisfying for me to look back on a project that I made after working for a few days straight,” Huang said. “I could recognize that I actually did something I was proud of.”

Huang has participated in classes and summer programs to develop her interest in art from a young age. That love has never diminished as she has grown older. 

“I think most kids like drawing at a young age, and then they get to school and they hate it,” Huang said. “But I was always pretty interested in drawing.”

Before the academic stress and workload of junior year, Huang went to her art studio for one and a half hours each week. Now, she uses the Adobe Suite software on her computer at home for her design projects, which she generally finishes over a few weeks of on-and-off work. One of her recent designs is an album package using surrealist styles. 

Currently, Huang likes drawing, painting, graphic design and especially charcoal work. She also harbors an interest in photography, but she has not officially “learned” photography and plans to keep it as a recreational hobby. 

Her art now primarily focuses on human figures, which Huang attributes to her background in ballet. 

“As a ballerina, I’m interested in the lines I’m making with my body, so I like drawing people,” she said. “I really enjoyed figure drawing at RISD — my professor told us that the human body had almost every single drawing problem we could encounter, so it’s also a good place to learn from.”

At RISD, Huang went to class from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on most days with a one-hour lunch break at noon. After class, she would return to her dorm room and work on her projects until past midnight. 

“It definitely helped my time management and pushed me in terms of my stamina and motivation,” she said. “It was pretty stressful but I don’t remember being on the verge of having a breakdown or anything like that.”

This school year, Huang is taking Graphic Design at Mission College. As for her Saratoga High schedule, Huang opted to take both AP Art History and AP Music Theory and she is working as a design editor on the yearbook staff, leaving no room for any science classes in her schedule — a rare choice at a STEM-leaning school. 

Huang has wanted to learn art history for years, and she said she was very lucky that the school decided to offer AP Art History during her junior year. She considers art history essential to the creation of modern art. 

“If you don’t understand where ideas came from, then you can’t really create more art in the future,” Huang said. “I think it’s also important to understand that our purpose as artists is to convey ideas in our current culture so that people in the future can understand what was going on during our time.”

Huang draws inspiration from literature and other artists who present interesting philosophical ideas or change her perspective on humankind. For instance, Huang created an animation on slavery after she watched the movie “12 Years a Slave” in her English class, which exposed her to the reality of slavery. She said she generally works best when she is creating a form of emotional artwork. 

In the future, Huang hopes to eventually work on a music video set, as it would combine her passions for art, music and dance — Huang has played the piano and danced ballet alongside her art classes since preschool. She plans to major in graphic design and/or sound art in college. 

This past summer, Huang attended RISD’s summer program for interior design but does not see herself with a future career in the field. 

“I studied interior design at RISD because it was a possibility I was thinking about, but I don’t think I’m going to go into it,” Huang said. “It’s more like a backup at this point.”

Still, Huang gained valuable insights about herself from her intensive experience at RISD. 

“I never realized how hard and how long I can work when it comes to art,” she said. “Even when I get tired, I work hard and push myself because I genuinely enjoy what I do.”

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At UC Berkeley, PhD student Abrar Abidi and research assistant Yvonne Hao have embarked on a goal of creating hand sanitizer for the Bay Area's most vulnerable populations, including the homeless and the incarcerated. Their hand sanitizer includes glycerol mixed with other products, in accordance with a formula from the World Health Organization. So far, they are producing 120 hundreds of gallons of sanitizer each week. Photo courtesy of Roxanne Makasdjian with UC Berkeley.


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