Her Future’s so Bright, She’s Gonna Need Shades!

Meet High School Junior Laura Ni from the San Francisco Bay Area. An accomplished pianist, student, and an AMAZING artist!

by Sabrina Hill, PSWC President and Editor, PSWC Magazine

Laura Ni

In the midst of the COVID-19, I had a chance to meet Laura Ni and her dad, Martin, over Zoom. She has one proud papa and with good reason! We chatted about her life, and her talents as an artist and pianist. Laura has studied art since 8th grade under Xiao Chang and also with her high school teacher, Mrs. Murphy. They have helped her develop her skills as a painter in a variety of mediums. She is going to be a name to watch for as you will see. It is important that we recognize these artists of the next generation. Their work is inspiring and innovative.

Take a look at Laura’s work below. She has written a little about each piece, but the work truly speaks for itself. (All work is the property of Laura Ni and cannot be reproduced without permission c2020)

The Crossing Paths by Laura Ni

The name of this drawing is “The Crossing Paths.” This pastel drawing is based on a photo that captures the moment when four rushed people crossed paths on the streets. I chose to recreate that moment because I found people’s interactions intriguing. This was the first and maybe the last time all four of them would ever see each other all at once. It was a magnificent moment because it happened to be these four people out of any other seven billion people in the world as if fate somehow brought them together. However, none of them realized, because they were all hurrying to get to their destination. The idea that the chances of us meeting the exact persons we have met is smaller than winning a lottery ticket made me wonder how lucky we were when we met the people we cared for and loved in our lives. To emphasize this idea, I painted the brick walls in the background extra dark which highlights the figures as that creates a contrast to the bright colors on their clothes.

Time Lapse by Laura Ni

The name of the artwork is “Time Lapse.” This art piece has an amusing creation story. It all began with me becoming incredibly confused in a class that taught logic and reasoning. I always loved doing logic puzzles, guessing riddles, and reading detective stories which was why I got enrolled in the class in the first place. However, I soon found out the class was much more than what I expected. The class got much harder quickly, and the teacher was bringing in complicated topics such as the paradox of time travel and possible solutions to the paradox. To visualize the idea, the teacher drew a timeline and many arrows in different directions on a whiteboard to show the traveler’s pathways. Sadly, the diagrams did not help me understand the problem, but instead made me more confused, as the arrows became tangled in my mind the way the earphone lines would in my pockets. Therefore, in an effort to clear my mind, I started doodling on a piece of paper, and because all I could think of at the time was “time,” and that became the theme of the new artwork.

Devotion by Laura Ni

This drawing is called “Devotion.” It is a derivative work based on a photo of an old lady. The photo was taken near a temple. When I saw the photo, the lady’s solemn and devout expressions captivated me, so I decided to emphasize her posture by drawing her head and hands in pencil only. The sharp tips of the pencils allowed me to draw with more precision and carve out every wrinkle on her face and hands. The reason I wanted to do so was that wrinkles tell stories. The wrinkles in between her eyes hinted that she regularly frowned, and the wrinkles on her hands, especially on her fingers, revealed that she did a lot of manual labor. These details formed part of the lady’s identity. For the same reason, I kept the colors on the lady’s clothes because colorful stripes were an element of the traditional clothes in Tibet, which revealed the ethnicity of the lady. After I finished drawing the lady, I decided not to draw in the background because I felt that the artwork should reflect her sacred and pure emotions. The way for me to achieve that goal was to keep it intricate but simple.

The Weaving History by Laura Ni

This drawing is called “The Weaving History.” On the left side, a mystical Chinese palace quietly stands and gazes at an ethereal German castle under a starry night sky. This drawing was inspired by a historical fiction novel I was reading at the time. I can still remember how often I held my breath as I read, when I was about to learn the result of the events. The author painted a glittering romance with her words which was so exotic that I could not help myself from needing to sketch it out and be able to visualize that ancient world. The reason I chose buildings as the main characters of this drawing was that I found that it is common and easy for people to forget that buildings are works of art. Additionally, they are more than art because they can be the only witnesses of stories that are long forgotten. The “meeting” of these architectural styles was to show some of the most remarkable art creations in the world that would never be together in real life. It was also a celebration of legacies.

Waiting by Laura Ni

This artwork is called “Waiting.” The artwork is a derivative work based on a photo that depicts an old man earnestly staring into the wilderness. While completing the work, oftentimes, I would wonder what he was trying to see. A local celebration event? A shepherd collecting his flock on the nearby hill? Or is he looking forward to seeing someone? If so, who is it? Is that person a student of his who is carrying on his beliefs as the next generation? A neighborhood kid who used to come and play with him? Or his own family who has moved to a more urban city years ago? With these thoughts in mind, I decided to sketch the old man and only color in the background. The different mediums would separate the man from his surroundings and put the man away from the chattering and vibrant world. The focus on the man faded because he is lost in his thoughts and only pondering how much longer he needs to wait.

Gypsy — My Dear Cat by Laura Ni

The drawing is called “Gypsy — My Dear Cat.” It is the portrait of an adorable cat standing under a beam of sunlight. The drawing was a gift for a friend. Gypsy is her cat, and she named the drawing. When drawing the portrait, I remember putting special attention on the eyes of the cat. Shakespeare once said, “Eyes are the windows to the soul,” and I found the eyes of Gypsy revealed how sharp she is. Her eyes seemed as if they had the ability to sparkle in the dark like aliens would in science fiction stories. That thought prompted me to choose a mainly dark blue background because that is the color of the night sky. That beam of light can be interpreted as a comet that happened to fly behind the cat or as the light that shines down from a UFO.

The Blooming Summer by Laura Ni

“The Blooming Summer” is the name of the artwork. It is based on a photo of flowers glowing in the blazing summer. The photo was taken on Lombard Street in San Francisco. The flowers were free-falling off of the exterior wall of a two-story building. The energy and vigor embodied by these flowers excited me. Furthermore, I have always wanted to draw flowers, but I did not want to draw bouquets since I found them too docile, and these flowers were perfect. While completing the work, I decided to take away all elements that might connect the flowers back to human civilization. The reason was that I hoped these flowers were more than just the decoration of a residential building but instead an important part of nature. I imagined that the flowers were growing wildly, unrestricted, and boldly in a prehistoric rainforest. I dreamed that they were spreading their branches the way the sunlight casts through the clouds, blooming as if this was the last chance before they wither.