Senior’s lifelong passion for art culminates in first-ever exhibit

November 27, 2018 — by Manasi Garg

Visitors, including principal Paul Robinson, look at Hannah Chang's artwork at a recent exhibition.

On Nov. 10, senior Hannah Chang held her very first art gallery in a local doctor’s office.

She had expected only a few people to show up. Instead, the building was teeming with nearly 60 people on opening night. They walked around the main lobby, admiring her more realistic pieces or went into an internal room, where Chang’s colorful illustrations were displayed.

The gallery will remain open until mid-December and is located at 14911 National Avenue, Suite #3, Los Gatos. It is open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays.

“The gallery was great, honestly,” she said. “I was so surprised so many people showed up.”

Art teacher Diane Vanry’s friend, orthopedic surgeon Terence Delaney, told Vanry his office had free wall space in the reception area and in an internal room. Vanry offered Chang the space to showcase her art. For the exhibition, Chang chose 30 larger pieces and 50 smaller ones, displaying 80 in total. At home, she has countless other pieces, many of which she is currently working on.

To Chang, this constant work is normal.

“I spend over half the day on art, more time than I do on schoolwork or anything else,” she said.

Chang did not always dedicate so much energy to art, however. Her first memory of art was when she drew with a pen at a restaurant when she was a toddler. At first, when she was younger, she pursued it as a fun pastime, but it soon blossomed into a passion.

When Chang first discovered her passion for art, she signed up for an art class in middle school, but she quit after the first few lessons.

“I never liked teachers telling me what to do, so I just bought all the art tools I needed and started painting and drawing,” she said.

Since then, Chang has been primarily self-motivated to improve her art skills and develop her own personal style, which she said was influenced by Andy Warhol’s use of bright, contrasting colors and the clean lines of Picasso’s cubism paintings. Her favorite style of art is cartoon-like illustrations, and she creates them primarily with watercolor and pen.

While Chang experiments with art often and still dislikes taking organized lessons, last summer she decided to attend California State Summer School for the Arts (CSSSA), an intensive art program. She said the teachers, rather than being narrow minded, allowed the students to freely express themselves while still guiding them. They also introduced Chang to many new types of art such as mixed-media and design, helping to branch out her knowledge and skill.

Chang recalled signing up for a painting class at CSSSA and worrying that it would be like a traditional art class where she would have to follow the teacher’s exact instruction. When she walked into the class on the first day, she saw a table covered with guitars at different angles.

“I was thinking, oh no, not an observational drawing because I really don't like those,” she said. “Instead, the teacher told us not to [create a observational drawing], and let us paint whatever we wanted using the guitars. I don't prefer drawing from life, so I decided to make the piece abstract with parts of the guitars spread all over the canvas.”

Chang said she ended up enjoying observational paintings and painting with acrylic, a medium she said she hadn’t done for a while.

Chang posts some of her work on her Instagram account, @hannyy__art. Chang said she started an art Instagram not only as a way to create a platform for her works, but also to jumpstart the website she is working on, where she plans to sell prints of her illustrations. She is still working on setting up her portfolio, and is currently not taking any orders.

While Chang’s plans for a business may seem to signify further pursuit of art in college, she said she is still trying to figure out where art will fit into her life after high school.

“I don’t know if I want to fully pursue art, or do some other major in college and do art as a side hobby,” she said.

Still, Chang maintains that are is sure to be part of her future. “I feel like art has helped me stay in my own bubble and given me a place where I don’t have to worry,” Chang said. “Because I haven’t always been good at academics and I just don’t know how to improve in that area, I like to focus on what I’m best at.”

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