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Advice from Alumni: Meihan Hu

Earlier this year, Meihan Hu’s artwork, On Tiptoe, was awarded a National Medal at the 2016 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. To add to this tremendous accomplishment, On Tiptoe, will be displayed at the U.S. Department of Education as part of the yearlong Art.Write.Now.DC exhibition in Washington, D.C., which features 65 pieces that serve as examples of “the very best [of the country’s] emerging artists.”

Meihan Hu, originally from China, graduated from EF Academy New York in 2016 and now attends Parsons School of Design where she plans on pursuing fashion design after her foundation year. Receiving such amazing recognition for her art piece was an important accomplishment for her since she won’t have a chance to participate in the competition again, but receiving the email telling her that her work would be on display in a special exhibition in Washington, D.C. was an entirely new thing to be excited about.

“When I got the email I was sort of confused at first, but then I was excited and happy because the National Medal was a really big award,” Meihan said. “Since I’m an international student, I didn’t know about the competition until my art teacher told me about it. This was my first and last time participating in the Scholastic Awards and this recognition is very meaningful for me.”

Meihan was surprised about the recognition that this particular piece received as her focus is more on painting and jewelry design than on creating collages. She said that culture shock and cultural conflict are themes that she often weaves into her artwork.

For high school students who are interested in attending art school after they graduate, Meihan’s advice is to work hard and make time for art.

“Art is a tough thing to keep up with, especially during education before university,” she said. “I spent one year on the portfolio I submitted with my application, but I recommend that you start building it two years before the application is due so that you have more pieces to choose from. I have a lot of things in my portfolio: instead of focusing on one specific area, I put more attention on different areas like photography, sculptures, paintings, collages and some jewelry and fashion design.”

Meihan attended EF Academy New York for four years, starting with the IGCSE program in Grade 9. While she enjoyed art as a hobby in her childhood, it didn’t become her passion until Grade 11 when she started the IB art class. She had originally planned on studying medicine, but changed her mind after enrolling in a pre-college program at the Rhode Island School of Design before she started her final year in high school.

“During the six weeks in the program, I met a lot of people who really liked art and who were looking forward to going to art school. Making friends with those people gave me a new perspective and that experience made me want to go to art school too,” she said.

When she thinks about what’s to come at university, Meihan said that she’s looking forward to learning more about the concepts behind art. She said she thinks that people in the U.S. are more open and supportive of studying art.

“People here treat art like it’s something serious. In my home country of China, people think that those who pursue art are the ones who didn’t earn good grades or do well on tests,” she said.

When it comes to finding inspiration for her next piece, Meihan turns to literature.

“My inspiration comes from a lot of things. I really like literature so there’s always inspiration for me there,” she said. “It doesn’t need to be artwork or a landscape, it can be literature or even the common things I experience in my everyday life.”

If you find yourself visiting or passing through Washington, D.C. within the next year, make sure you stop at the main lobby of The Lyndon Baines Johnson Department of Education Building (across from the National Air & Space Museum) where you can see Meihan’s piece on display. The Art.Write.Now.DC exhibition features artwork from other artists who received National Medals at the 2016 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.

Learn more about Meihan’s award here

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