Arts & Culture

ArtRich unveils People’s Choice Awards winners

By Don Fennell

Published 12:10 PST, Tue January 21, 2020

Last Updated: 11:58 PST, Fri February 7, 2020

The votes are in and three deserving individuals are the winners in ArtRich 2019’s People’s Choice Awards.

Kelly Zhong for Reaching, Sue Clark for The Richmond Project and Nikhat Qureshi for Khalq Creation were selected from a community celebration of 62 local artists. The winners were chosen by a panel of art professionals at the Richmond Art Gallery through the month of December. The People’s Choice Awards were voted on by visitors to the Richmond Art Gallery, and came with a cash prize.

Kelly Zhong: “Honoured to participate”

“I am extremely honoured that I was able to participate in the 2019 ArtRich Exhibition and to have received one of the People’s Choice Awards” says Zhong. “I think the biennial ArtRich exhibition is an great opportunity for emerging and established artists working in Richmond and the Lower Mainland to exhibit their work. There were so many talented artists included in this year's exhibition and I enjoyed seeing all the amazing artwork on display.”

Through Reaching, Zhong aims to pinpoint times in our lives where we feel we don’t have a firm grip on reality.

“We can’t control the things occurring around us and we desperately try to hold onto to something concrete—something that can ground us and provide a small sense of security and reassurance,” she explains. “I have goals I want to reach and hold onto, yet the future is still uncertain. Every day passes by either slowly or in a blur. I am moving forward but I do not know where I am going. I try desperately to ground myself, reaching deep into the earth and within myself to find a sense of belonging and maybe clarity. However, all that I have come up with is a void. A blank space with even more unanswered questions.”

Zhong, who lives and works in Richmond, received her Bachelor of Fine Arts, summa cum laude from the Maryland Institute College of Art. Her work explores the role of relationships and the various forms they manifest within others and ourselves. Working predominantly in drawing and the style of realism, she renders her subjects in a meditative and detailed fashion. Her drawings often express emotions, thoughts, and the relationships she has with others. She thinks of her artwork as informal self-portraits—drawings that reflect parts of herself without every showing actual facial features. Instead, body language is used to convey mental states and actions. From this ambiguity, she invites viewers to place themselves in similar situations and cast their own perspectives on the situation.

Sue Clark: “Hugely uplifting”

Excited to have one of her artworks recognized by a People’s Choice Award, Sue Clark describes the honour as  “hugely uplifting and motivating.”

“I have been pursuing opportunities to share my art and found the ArtRich call a perfect match for The Richmond Project which took me more than one year to finish,” she explains.

Clark says she was inspired to create The Richmond Project by her eldest son, who moved to Richmond to begin his carer as a software engineer at one of the city’s large tech firms. He directed her to the Google Maps view of Richmond and its “curious network of roads that twist and wind like circuit boards.” That led her to consider how digitization is influencing the design of our growing cities and affecting the cultural fabric of our burgeoning population.

“As an artist that is inspired by the elements of the natural world, I wonder how the shift to urbanization will affect the traditional landscape aesthetic and the mediums we create with,” says Clark, who is now working on a solo exhibit coming in March.

Nikhat Qureshi: “Humbled”

Qureshi says she feels “humbled” by such an honourable recognition as an ArtRich 2019 People’s Choice Award.

“I am sincerely thankful to Richmond Arts Coalition for the opportunity and everyone for appreciating my art and voting for it,” she says.

Her painting, Khalq Creation, represents beauty in diversity.

“I am curious about common connections between faiths and cultures across communities. Having a passion for the art of Islamic scriptwriting, especially Arabic calligraphy, leads me to explore quotes, poetry, phrases and religious scriptures that convey a universal message of love, peace, and unity,” Qureshi explains.

Her winning piece has the verse written in Arabic with English translation from the Quran chapter 30:22 (Surah Ar-Rum) which explains about beauty in diversity: "And of His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the diversity of your languages and your colours. Indeed in that are signs for those of knowledge.” 

“How beautiful it is to appreciate the diversity of our languages and colours learn from the differences and celebrate similarities for an inspiring sense of harmonious community and building bridges of understanding,” she says.

A self-taught visual artist and calligrapher, Qureshi’s passion for calligraphy is driven by religious writings and poetic text composed in an artistic way. She has studied the basics of the Nastaliq script of calligraphy under a calligraphy master from Pakistan and the Thuluth Script from a master Canadian calligrapher.

Qureshi is the founder of Islamic Art of British Columbia and often conducts calligraphy workshops for beginners. Between 2012 and 2014, she was the program director of Islamic Art Revival Series in Dallas, with the dual mission of bringing awareness and exposure to Islamic art and to build cultural bridges between the Islamic world and North America.

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