What is art? People will often say that a picture is worth a thousand words. However, I find that art is worth even more — art is a collection of ideas, feelings, and experiences. Through art, I can express myself with a pencil, a brush or a pen. For example: if I’m angry, I’ll draw with harsh, dark strokes. If I’m happy, I’ll doodle butterflies and unicorns. Additionally, when I want to relive an amazing experience, I’ll draw something that reminds me of the event. Long story short, art is an amazing, therapeutic way to express myself.
My name is Lily and I will be sharing and documenting some of my art pieces and the personal stories that go along with them.
To start off Heart-to-Art, I’m going to begin with one of my oldest childhood traditions— Chinese New Year. Every year, my family and I visit the Buddhist temple in San Jose. The temple is always full of people dressed in traditional Vietnamese clothing and shouting in Chinese and Vietnamese. My mother would hold burning red and yellow incense sticks high above her head as she pushed through the crowd. She would kneel on ash-covered mats and bow to golden statues whose faces were always smiling and round. I’d pay respect to my grandparents, uncles, and aunts; I’d excitedly recite Chinese idioms and receive shiny red envelopes stuffed with money in return.
After paying respects at the temple, we’d stop by a neighboring plaza. I had always enjoyed strolling along the sidewalk and smelling the familiar scent of waffles drifting in from the plaza’s bakery. At the corner, there would be a woman, wearing an apron, standing in front of three griddles. There would be two large plastic pitchers filled with pale green and yellow batter. A sign announcing “WAFFLES: DURIAN AND PANDAN” would be taped messily on the wall. I’d munch on the sweet waffles and watch men set off firecrackers in the middle of the plaza. The loud firecrackers would pop loudly and made my ears ring even after they had stopped. The pavement would be covered in red paper; the air hazy and cloaked in smoke.
After Lunar New Year, the smell of incense and waffles always stay on my clothes and in my memories.
Words and images by Lily Young