Group 13 - 18

1st Prize | Home Invasion - Sarah Jiang [New Zealand]

If the Earth were stripped to its core, lying at its dead center will only be, and always be, nature. It began with the sticks and stones from our stone age and developed into the ridiculously intricate technology of our twenty-first century. Yet the only constant is the environment. Today, there is a blatant decline of raw environmental materials in our everyday lives: using raw wood, stone or mud seems absurd in our day and age. However, its everlasting presence is overbearing. The clothes on our bodies are nature’s cotton, the beds we sleep in are from nature’s trees, and the phones in our pockets are from nature’s metals. Too often we get lost in the complexity of our evolution that we forget the foundation nature and the environment holds for our society, and the path they laid for each of our lived not only to operate, but to prosper. “Home Invasion” is a piece that expresses what I believe is my relationship with nature. I believe there is no separation between our industrial, technological world and the natural world. Instead, it all belongs to the environment. Our humanly inventions and gadgets are merely a creative distortion of nature’s resources to bend to our convenience. Our medicine, our computers and our entire society comes from one sole source, the environment. In this artwork, the overbearing placement of the plants, breaching through the windows and coiling around the beams, depicts the power and importance of nature, and its “invasion” into this acrylic painting of a personal home space. Through warm and brown tones, the house itself is already painted to portray a woody and natural atmosphere. Yet, the greenery still manages to completely eclipse this house. When magnified, this piece shows a clear distinction between the house and the trees, portraying how we have separated ourselves from the environment. But from a farther perspective, it all merges into one unified image, delivering the message that, in the big picture, we all belong to nature. Outside of this fictional painting, however, humans seem to slowly be invading into nature. To lessen the negative effects of this invasive progression, accountability is how I will become more environmentally friendly and sustainable. Not only must we hold ourselves accountable, but we must also hold those around us accountable. When I begin to recognize the importance of reducing plastic use that destroys our oceans, avoiding red meat that breaks the ozone layer, or minimizing electricity use that pollutes the air, I have completed the bare minimum. What is truly important is initiating the wave of awareness that can domino from person to person. To plant the idea of environmental preservation in the people in my life, so they can do so to the people in theirs, and so on. In all reality, it is a very easy step for all of us to take. Recycle the plastic bags our friends take home, switch our parent’s Tupperware from plastic to glass, or remind our sibling to turn off the light. It is easy for us to say we will recycle and reuse to become more environmentally friendly and sustainable, but it’s time we realize that this is a step we should have taken long ago. The truly realistic, and impactful step we must take is to hold our society accountable.

2nd Prize | Our Mother - Sarah Yan [USA]

Nature is fine and detailed, yet rough and vast, but beautiful in all forms; the powerful shifting of the tides, the way the sun shines beautifully on mountain peaks, and the periodicity of the moon are all things that have and will continue to awe and inspire me. In this piece, I wanted to explore the beauty and power of nature, as well as its constant presence. The world has been nature’s home since the beginning, and we humans are children that blindly stumbled into it. And yet each step of the way, nature has guided us, supported us, and held our hand, just like how a mother would. I first came into this painting with a very different composition—I was going to portray how we, as humans, had shackled and fettered nature, but as I painted, I realized I wanted to tell a positive story; I wanted to tell the story of how nature created new pathways and bridges and connected us. It must be said that if nature has done all this for us, then we, like children who have grown up and left the nest, must return to take care of those who raised us. We have to continue to preserve and care for nature by promoting sustainability, whether that means cutting down on food waste, choosing to carpool or bike, or choosing to put on a sweater in the winter instead of turning on the heater. We have to pay Mother Nature back for all the support she’s provided, because no one, and I mean no one, likes an ungrateful child.

2nd Prize | Food Chain - Wenrui Zhang [China]

Vivamus sit amet odio sed quaMother nature provides us with the basic living resources and environments that are gradually destroyed by us. According to the World Animal Foundation, 70 percent of Amazon Rainforest was destroyed mainly due to animal agriculture; According to Climate Nexus Organization, one third of the Earth’s ice-free and one third of worldwide grain product land is devoted to animal agriculture. According to the World Health Organization, even though more than enough food is produced, 1 in 9 people worldwide still go to bed with hunger because a large portion of grains are consumed by livestocks every year. The concept of my artwork is based on the fact that our excessive consumption of meat products is at the expense of our environment and the lives of poor people. So I replaced the meat in the pan with malnourished people and I used many tree stumps under the meal to represent tens of billions of trees that were felled for producing meat products. In contrast to the size of the bony people in the pan, the size of the well-fed cattle and pig are bulk and heavy. If meat consumption and meat production keep on rising, the future we must face soon is the Earth’s revenge ---- the result of climate change: floods, droughts, sea level rise etc. Ultimately, human beings will be devoured by nature. So I drew the Earth holding a fork and a knife behind the man, waiting to enjoy the lives of greedy humans. To prevent these environmental disasters from happening in the near future, every one of us could help by reducing meat consumption. volutpat ullamcorper vitae at mauris. Aenean ullamcorper vestibulum sagittis. Nulla vel ornare mauris, id congue nisi. 

3rd Prize | Save the Unseen - Xintong Yu [China]

I firmly surmise that one can protect the nature on a daily basis, focusing on the steps we take for ourselves or those around us. For a sustainable and green future in the city, where I am from, it starts with minding the survival of last bits of vegetation and critters. I live in Shanghai, China, where the environment is not always satisfactory for small animals as well as for a variety of plants – rabbits are rare and even squirrels too! This issue is not usually addressed, but it is crucial that they be integrated into our daily lives for a balance in the environment. Critters help control the insect population and plants provide critters their shelter. Using social media and taking actions in public can inspire others, as they would be able to see it done. In my artwork, my use of contrasting colors and a strong light source to create a shocking effect on the audience. The red in the background suggests the unconscious violence of ruining nature; it also contrasts with the foreground to create a focal point, while emphasizing the beauty of nature. The strong light source from the top enhances the gloomy atmosphere of destruction, aiming to evoke empathy with the audience.

3rd Prize | The Birth - Juntang Chen [China]

I was born in the spring; the color of flowers, leaves, and sky immersed me when I first opened my eyes. To me, nature is the ultimate tranquility of life; it calms me and inspires me. In my digital piece, The Birth, I illustrate a newborn child who first arrives in this world. It was a March eighteen years later, a maple seed carrying all the energy of spring, flying and falling into my hands, inspired me to create this piece. I sat under that maple tree in our garden and drew down the moment. As I painted the falling seeds, an illusion emerged: each seed became a little child, dancing under the spring sun. Therefore, I painted a child under the seed’s falling path and shined the light on him. By this piece, I intended to show the interwoven relationship between nature and humans. I also plan to create arts with more sustainable and organic materials, to protect nature and the environment while bringing colorfulness to the world.

3rd Prize | Lucid Dream - Erin Chiang [USA]

Over the course of the past years, the relationship between humans and our surrounding environment has become progressively more vital as we continue to have both negative and positive effects on it. My piece reflects a greater hope and the importance of the future generations to improve and hopefully strengthen our bond with our planet and reverse the mistakes we have made in the past. As someone who has grown up in the vicinity of many animals from a young age, I have learned to develop a deep understanding of how important our environment is to people. I worked to represent this connection in my artwork through utilizing the contrast between the dullness of the coral bleaching to the vitality of the corals as they grow nearer to the young girl. I further displayed these themes by using pen to outline a variety of fish as well as jellyfish, the transparent nature of the creatures giving them a mystical and dream inducing tone. To a young girl, their knowledge of the outside world is still limited, so it is the responsibility of our current generations to lead the younger ones in the right direction. I hoped to demonstrate the beauty of the ocean and sea-life through my painting, using a variety of colors and styles to enhance the vibrant world as it looks through a child’s eyes. Oftentimes, even the simplest of actions can make drastic changes to our environment. Small movements such as reducing water usage, learning to reuse materials, and more are tasks that anyone can learn to do and implement into their daily lives. While actions such as throwing away a plastic straw on the side of the street may seem inconsequential, the vastness of the world proves that the smallest signs of ignorance may lead to another one’s death. Additionally, spreading awareness and teaching others of the importance of the environment is always beneficial. As mentioned previously, future generations will play an extremely large part in the restoration of our planet, so it is vital that more awareness be spread now so that later on the Earth will still be in good hands.

3rd Prize | Taint - Tracy Huang [USA]

What looks like a pretty and innocent painting is actually something much deeper and darker. The way the woman dances peacefully and turns a blind eye represents how I, and the rest of society, tend to downplay issues regarding the health of the earth. The white dress highlights the woman’s purity and innocence, reminding the audience that humans harm the earth without facing much guilt or shame. Below the woman is a tree stump and dirt, barren of life, signaling that the woman, and more importantly, humans, are causing the earth to die. This painting is a representation of my relationship with nature: as much as I would like to lie and say that I put my whole effort into being environmentally friendly, it is not true, and it isn’t true for most human beings on this earth. My actions have a negative impact on earth, whether it be frequently using single-use plastic or driving my car that burns precious fossil fuels. I did not want to create a piece that would only highlight the good actions that I take towards nature; I wanted to remain truthful and realistic in describing my experiences when it comes to how I treat the environment. In the future, I can purchase reusable cups, bags, and other sustainably-made goods, as well as an electric car. While I cannot completely clean my carbon footprint, I can try my best to leave as little of a mark on this earth as possible.

Choice of Purification - Shenhan Qiu [China]

Nature has always been a huge part of my life since my mother especially loves flowers. I would remember the fragrance that greets me as I come home from school everyday. Nature is where I first learned to appreciate beauty, natural forms and colors; just by observing the floral decorations around the house, I delineate their textures and hues. In this piece, I connect my own interest in fashion and elements of nature to create a scene of display both aesthetically pleasing in design and meaningful with representation. I started off thinking about how I could incorporate nature and sustainability into my passion for fashion. Then I thought about the decorations of bouquets of flowers around the house all these years and grasped them as inspiration for new styles of clothes. I then looked at recyclable plastic online and decided to use them inside my decorations for hairstyle and background. I tried painstakingly to create a balance of nature and manmade materials. Looking closer at the piece and the details behind, my work would slowly turn from a fashion display to a story. I hope the audiences looking at it would understand the effort I put in to give the message of making fashion a more environmentally friendly industry. The idea of environmental protection is essential and I considered the further steps for me to take. Personally, I want to reduce the chances of buying water and would always remember to bring reusable water bottles and shopping bags. I think starting from building daily habits and doing small actions, the world would eventually be at a better place.

Building Our Future - Serena Zheng [USA]

In my piece “Building Our Future”, I have illustrated the relationship between nature, me, and society. In the painting, two smiling adults are seen replacing the blocks with trees on them with blocks that have buildings. This illustrates how we are shaping our environment to fit our idea of progress. However, the child who is watching his parents is not smiling because he can see how altering the natural world to fit our needs is detrimental. Though smoke may be clouding his eyes, the damage that is being done is clear. The child represents me and my generation, while the adults represent the ideas we are taught. From a young age, I have been told that cutting down trees and polluting the ocean are just the after effects of progress. Nature and the environment are important in my life because it is the foundation of our society and our existence. We often take this fact for granted and overexploit our natural resources. Growing up during the climate crisis, I have realized that while sacrifices are needed for progress, we need to be mindful about what we are doing. We need to give back to the building blocks of nature that have provided us with sustenance and allowed us to prosper. While we can’t reverse the damage in a day, we can start by being more environmentally-friendly and sustainable. For example, I collect rainwater to water plants and save plastic packaging to store other things.

Mother's Story - Mingjie (Vivian) Gao [China]

In the picture, a mother is telling children about the future earth. On the left side of the painting is a beautiful and clean Ocean. Turtles and small fish play in the colorful coral reef. On the right is the lush tropical rainforest with cascades falling and flamingos standing quietly on the water. On the inner side of them is the current earth, which is littered with household garbage and plastic products, resulting in the turbid sea water and many marine creatures on the brink of extinction. Due to exhaust fume emission and deforestation at random, many places are hazed and increasingly desertified. So how can we have a beautiful view of the earth in the future? We must protect the earth from now on!

Nature and Me - Hudson Liu [China]

Humans are the earth's devastator. To develop our civilization, we stained beautiful nature with our dirty hands. The pure air was contaminated, the vibrant trees were cut down, the animals were killed. It is time to stop, it is the time to ask ourselves the importance of nature, it is the time to find a way to solve this looming crisis. I believe, if we work with solidarity, the earth’s environment will soon be ameliorated through our magical hands, and people will embrace mother nature once again.

Group 7-12

1st Prize | She Appears with the Rain - Jane Tang [Canada]

Nature and the wildlife has affected my world in many, many ways; I play in it, look at it and draw inspiration from it. Without it, I’d feel like I was lacking something, man-made structures just can't fill that hole. This work represents the underappreciation of nature in a city like mine. Flowers growing through cracks, weeds sprouting out the sides of buildings and the birds, all grow unnoticed yet the beauty still stands tall and bright. The rain makes them stand out, a splash of colour against the wet, gray asphalt. Some parts I find unique about this piece are the mono and colour theme and the different natural parts I was able to incorporate in the lady. I tried to not make it over the top, so I wouldn’t lose the theme. Sustaining our environment and the nature around us can be as simple or as complex as you’d like it to be. Some steps I take everyday are: picking up any stray litter, making sure the correct trash goes into the correct cans and reducing, reusing and recycling anything that I can. I can do this everyday as I have many hiking paths behind my house.

2nd Prize | Camping Trip - Emily Kalna [USA]

My work helps depict the theme of nature and me through people on a camping trip. My drawing expresses that everyone is partaking in their own interests yet they are all together and spending time in the open. Whether it may be tending to the fire, fishing, sitting in the grass and enjoying the view, or more, the small community enjoys the gifts of nature. To me, nature means a lot because sometimes it can help me disconnect from the world. When I spend time in nature, I feel peace and I feel full within my body. My work helps me represent the different emotions I might be feeling during a camping trip, almost like I have multiple bodies. While making my work, I thought about my surroundings and different actions and emotions I might be feeling if I were actually there. Some things I can do to be more environmentally-friendly include bringing my own reusable shopping bags, composting, cutting out plastic, using renewable energy, growing my own food, and donating my clothes or unused items. For us, it is really important we keep our Earth healthy and happy so that we can enjoy it!

3rd Prize | Afternoon Sunlight - Angela Huang [USA]

Growing up my fondest memories of nature were summer hikes in the forest. The afternoon sunlight that peeked through the trees gave the woods a wistful atmosphere. I hope to share the same inspiration I gain from nature through this drawing.

Nature's Tree House - Ananya Rao

Nature and the environment is important to me because I feel taking care of mother nature and keeping our planet clean will make human beings live a more healthy life. For example, not littering or planting trees are small acts but can make huge differences. For my piece, I drew a treehouse in a small valley. This represents the relationship between nature and me because I made this drawing to show how peaceful life would be if people cared about nature. My inspiration to create my piece was from a park I went to. In that park was a small tree house with some children playing in it. I remembered that and drew a tree house and added my own touches to create my piece. Some realistic steps I can take to be more environmentally friendly and sustainable is not littering, planting trees, recycling, and reusing.