Life before and after art school
Three Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts 2019 graduates Janice Ng, Abdul Hakeem James Hausley and Choo Jen Quinn look forward to life after art school. (Photos: Respective students)

Life before and after art school

It is the season of coming of age, farewells and beginnings. As graduates toss away their mortarboards, they also find themselves thrust into society, both anticipating and bearing great expectations — the change they hope to effect through their work and what their jobs will entail.

For many, it is taking that first step towards employment and independence. For others, it signals a time for change, whether minor or pivotal.

So, what are graduates to make of these great expectations and how should they, standing on the cusp of change, navigate beyond the safe harbour of school?

We pose these questions to three Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) 2019 graduates, whose works are on display at NAFA’s graduating showcase, Grad Expectations. They are: Choo Jen Quinn, 20, Diploma in Fine Arts, Abdul Hakeem James Hausley, 25, Bachelor of Arts (Hons) Spatial Design, and Janice Ng, 21, Diploma in Illustration Design with Animation.

Choo’s Nuances is an introspective reflection on her work, Piece of Mind, which draws on her encounters with elderly with dementia.

What has been your proudest moment in school?
Choo: My art installation, Piece Of Mind, a collaboration with Thye Hua Kwan Moral Charities, allowed me to find my voice as a creative and my purpose in art-making. The work, which was recently exhibited at the National Library, allowed me to unearth the memories and stories of elderly with dementia, and give voice to a community once unheard, using a medium that is accessible to the masses.

Ng: When I sold some of my clay art works and was able to give some of my earnings to my parents and grandma.

Hakeem James Hausley: When I found myself achieving more than the goals I had set for myself, including a scholarship and awards, and knowledge and friendships.

Hakeem James Hausley’s Spiritual Asylum focuses on how time in solitude could create a sense of heightened self-awareness, spirituality and mental balance.

What is your biggest takeaway from school?
Choo: An awareness of my artistic identity and role within the industry as an emerging arts practitioner, and keen sensitivity to a multidisciplinary arts practice.

Ng: Meeting people from around the world with the same passion and learning more from each other. I love that art is something that can bring people together.

Hakeem James Hausley: An understanding of various contexts, cultures, aesthetics and functionalities, and the ability to create designs which resolve or allay the concerns of different parties.

Ng’s The Elderland invites visitors to reflect on filial piety through a series of sculptures.

What are your aspirations and next steps?
Choo: Art has the potential to provide a space for the repressed and to heighten empathy, so I aspire to engage with the community-at-large through the language of art, and to connect individuals to a thriving community locally, regionally, and beyond.

Ng: To be a self-employed artist working in different mediums. I do not wish to limit myself to only clay crafting; I would also like to do illustrations and mural paintings, and work with some of my other friends.

Hakeem James Hausley: I aspire to be a landscape architect who designs spaces that are not only environmentally sustainable, but which also factor in the physical and social well-being of its users, and perhaps start a ripple effect where other like-minded architects pursue similar works.

The replies were edited and condensed. Details about The Grad Expectations 2019 here.

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