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Conversations with Connie Chau

Today we’d like to introduce you to Connie Chau.

Hi Connie, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
Everything is unexpected. As someone who was born into a typical Asian family, it wasn’t always comfortable to express my own thoughts, not to mention to become an artist.

Elders expect to see good grades in ordinary subjects like science, maths, and English, rather than seeing you spend time on something they think is not reliable in terms of income. My mum has told me her concern but has still been supporting me all the time. Despite the fact that she is supportive, I still thought she didn’t like my dream at all. Both of us have never sincerely talked to each other.

Right before the application, I asked her with a trembling voice. I foresaw her rejection, all in all, it wouldn’t be no burden if I enter an art school. “Go for it, we got your back,” she said. I didn’t expect to hear that. Thousands of reasons for negotiation were already prepared in my mind, but at this moment, I let go of all of them, and the stress that I carried these years was relieved.

After the Hong Kong SCAD campus closes down, I was having virtual classes, and eventually, study abroad here in Savannah. I was afraid of bringing inconveniences to my family though I tried to manage everything by myself. I thought I was a burden to my family. My childhood experiences have shaped me as someone who thinks negatively. I couldn’t get rid of the stubborn mind that no one likes me.

For months, I didn’t call my family on the phone at all so I wouldn’t disturb them, until a few weeks ago. My boyfriend contacts my mum quite often, and so does my mum. My mum knows nothing about my schedule, but she does know I am a busy student, and she doesn’t want to disturb me at all, and so do I, perhaps they are hustling for life as well.

“She misses you.” My boyfriend said.

I miss her too, I miss my family. The pandemic is still keeping us apart, making homecoming more difficult. I probably would not plan to fly back in a short term, since completing my bachelor, and becoming a successful artist are my dream, my responsibility, and my return to my family’s support. I hope my art can become a medium of communication that conveys unspoken messages and emotions to people like me.

Different things happening in these years have separated us apart from our beloved one, not everyone is able to say things out loud. And I believe, that not everything can be told by words. That feeling of being contaminated by feelings and thoughts but unable to express them in words is so hard to take.

And this is my reason for becoming an artist, an artist who can speak through pictures. My childhood experience doesn’t allow me to phrase my feelings and thoughts, but someday, it will be accomplished by my art.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
In terms of becoming an artist, I would say it is not. I was diagnosed with ASD in 2017. I am sensitive to connections and relationships with people. My childhood experience has made me keep everything from others, even my family.

I am always emotional and sentimental, but instead of telling others, I subconsciously keep it and bury it deep down my heart, hoping that time would wash it away, or until I let it go, but that is totally against my goal.

Art is a way of communication, it would be funny if the artist itself doesn’t enjoy communication at all or even had no experience in it. What is how I started learning it when I realized that it is an essential skill for both my career and as part of the society.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I major in illustration. Different from most of my peers, I enjoy creating something narrative and “everyday”. I don’t build fancy worlds or creatures, I focus on usual, daily subject matters since I would love to see everyone understand and enjoy my work. I am making connections with something we all can relate to, and we all feel comfortable looking at. “Art comes from life and goes beyond it.” My art comes from my past, but instead of making my audience soak into my bad memories, I prefer turning them into joy, courage, and inspiration. Emotion is part of human nature, and I want my work to be understood as a feeling, as a recall of memory.

“Art comes from life and goes beyond it.” Rather than keep putting myself and my audience in my bad memories, I prefer cheering us all. My work is harmonious in terms of color, stylization, rendering, and the idea. Compared to my peers, my work is less imaginative and mind-blowing, but I think what makes my work different is its relatability.

Emotion is one of our original human qualities, and that is one of the elements I love to include in my work since I want everyone to be able to understand my work.

Can you talk to us a bit about the role of luck?
Beforehand, I would say the closedown of SCAD Hong Kong was bad luck because I had to adapt to a new environment for my study, and also my dream.

I had a strong sense of discomfort with such changes. Eventually, I made a decision of continuing my study at SCAD here in Savannah, US.

The totally different environment and culture assured my direction of creation and provided a fresher living style which benefits my creative process.

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