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Nicole Poon: Aspiring Student Artist on the Rise

Malvika Mahendhra, Staff Writer

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Art rooms offer a place for escape, and upon entrance it feels like an entirely new world.  Art rooms are no ordinary classrooms, but instead a space where individuals explore the depths of their own creativity. Sketchbooks replace textbooks and drawings replace worksheets. For senior Nicole Poon, the art room is more than a classroom; for her it feels like home. It is here she discovered her true passion of expressing her thoughts on the world through art.

“I am inspired by social issues that affect me,” Poon said. “I try to portray this in my art in a non-exploitive way.

Due to Poon’s Chinese heritage, she tries to create art pieces that reflect diversity and immigration.

“I have a large canvas where it is called ‘World of Immigrants’,” Poon said. “It is my grandmother when she was younger. I also have a women piece that has six women of color.”

Poon’s art reflect social justice issues that surround her, and tries to send a message with every piece she creates.

“In this political climate we have, there are people saying a lot of bigotry and racism,” Poon said. “It is small minority, but they are being super loud. I want to be louder than them and  I want to portray ‘We are Here’ and this is ‘Who We Are.”

Women of color is a prominent theme that Poon incorporates in her artwork.

“It is really refreshing to see women of color,” senior Mellica Aksari said. “In classic and modern art you only see conventionally beautiful women.”

Poon also seeks to find ways to involve her friends and family in her art.

“For me the person is the subject in my photography or art,” Poon said. “So the people I photograph or paint are people that I love and care about. I feel like it is so impersonal when you take pictures of people you do not know.”

Poon balances representing diversity in her artwork, along with breaking traditional beauty standards to fit different body types.

“Growing up I would always think why is my hair like this; why is it so curly,” Aksari said. “For her to be able to portray a wide variety of women is empowering.”

For Poon, her goal is to show women as who they truly are, rather than conforming them to a specific role or restrict their freedom of expression.

“All of her art shows the female forms and her focus are muses are women of color and them being able to express their sexuality or unique their traits,” senior Satya Chintapalli said. “She shows girls being able to be themselves without being objectified. Her art shows women as powerful and not sexual objects.”

Along with women of color being a subject in her artwork, Poon likes to embrace her Chinese ethnicity and show her audience more of her culture beyond the stereotype.

“This is one of my favorite photos of her,” Aksari said. “She is dressed in traditional Chinese clothing and it just so beautiful. I never thought that Chinese clothing could be that intricate. It is such a wonderful photo. She shows things that people do not normally see with her own creative twist.”

The use of social media is how Poon reaches a broad audience to view her art. She has a Instagram page that is dedicated to her artwork.

“I know I am not super popular and I am not going to put it out there that I am this amazing artist,” Poon said. “I just wanted to dedicate one Instagram for my art. The posts on my Instagram are a lot of photography. I try to post any kind of my artwork right now. It is matter of experimenting with different mediums and trying to show as much as I can.

Poon’s use of social media eventually evolved into an online business.

“The business that Nicole has I think started with these t-shirts,” Aksari said. “I remember she posted these selfies on Twitter of this really cute outfit. It was the bright orange neon t-shirt and said this word in French. Everyone was like where did you get that shirt and she said that she made it. Someone asked her to make a specific shirt, and so she started making t-shirt designs.

From t-shirts, Poon has evolved her art business to include different products made by her. Now, customers can talk to her through her social media and purchase her work.

“From the t-shirts, she probably manifested the confidence to sell her original work instead of printed designs,” Aksari said. “Now she started making fruit and vegetable themed t-shirts.”

Last year, Poon was involved in Girls’ Generation that was held in Deep Ellum. This is an art show where young female artists can display and sell their work.

“Girls’ Generation was really cool,” Aksari said. “They rented out a room and decorated it and had tables for each artist. In front of them and behind them they would have art to show and they would sell some things. I think I spent like hundred dollars that day. I love supporting small artists.”

Along with sending a different message than most artists, Poon expresses her art in quirky, bold ways.

“The prints I have are six portraits of girls and they are really colorful,” Chintapalli said. “The way she draws the facial features are not hyper-realistic, but they all have the facial expressions that show powerful people.”

Poon’s art emphasizes social justice awareness, but it also reflect her own creativity and originality.

“In her photography, she did this makeup and it was not just daily makeup. It was like blue eyeliner coming all the way up to your temples,” Chintapalli said. “She was coming up with all of it on the spot and I was really impressed to watch her work. I do not think a lot of people are creative and have the ability to come up with ideas on the fly.”

Art is not only a passion that Poon enjoys, but is a career path she is wanting to go into.

“I was initially was going to apply to six colleges, but I ended up only applying to three,” Poon said. “I only applied to three because the school of Visual Arts in Manhattan had already accepted me and given me 80K in scholarship. I was so excited when I got accepted.”

While art has played a role in Poon’s entire life, her decision of art being her future began only last year.

“I have done art my entire life, but I got really into it only last year and started thinking of it as a career option,” Poon said. “I started doing art experiments and creating work and last year I said this is what I want to do my whole life.”

Taking the art program in this school pushed Poon to realize that art was something she wanted to do in her future.

“The art program here is completely amazing and underrated,” Poon said. “Taking art in Plano West pushed me in the direction of considering art as a career. Art at West has definitely boosted my creativity and the teachers really push you to your limit.”

However, the decision to pursue art was not an easy one for Poon. At times, she felt skepticism for pursuing visual art.

“It was kind of hard art to break out of my thinking of prejudice toward art only because the people around me were like do practical things,” Poon said. “It was very difficult for me to decide to pursue this and even now I am scared.”

In moments of uncertainty, Poon remembers the love she feels for art and sticks to her life motto.
“My ideas is that I want to go and pursue what I love,” Poon said. “Whatever happens, happens. It is important to live in the moment and not worry about the future because right now is the most important.”

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Nicole Poon: Aspiring Student Artist on the Rise