Explore the workings of an artistic mind

Khushi Kanchibotla

Staff Writer

     Art. A very well-known word that encompasses many things. Singing, animation, dancing, theatre, and painting are just a few of the many forms of art. Every person who has taken up some form of art knows the difference it can make in their life. For junior Elena Fu, who hasn’t constricted herself to just one form of art but rather multiple, she knows the intricate beauty of those various forms. Her Chinese name is Jiayi, which means home arts, and was coincidently picked by her grandmother who was a painter; Fu thought her passion for art was meant to be. 

     Her journey with painting began in middle school with a few extra wooden boards and paint. She always thought it was fun to sketch for the books she would write but only got interested after bringing life to a tree on those wooden boards. Starting with a few landscapes, which turned out to be “pretty ugly” in Fu’s words, she managed to grow the courage to sell some of her paintings at American High’s very own Holiday Boutique. 

     Fu reveals, “My mother is a great influence on my art. In fact, she convinced me to sell some of my paintings [at the Holiday Boutique] but they didn’t sell too well.”  Mrs. Fu has helped Fu grow during her experiences with art. Nitpicking, Mrs. Fu pointed out the small details, allowing Fu to touch upon aspects that she did not catch before.

     Fu’s artistic hand has impressed many people throughout her life. Some people for entertainment, others for business. Having met in church a few years ago, Haily Eddlemon is one of Fu’s best friends to date. Eddlemon says, “It’s starting to become a tradition for her presents for my birthday to be paintings.” 

     Another person who was awed by Fu’s impressive hand is Mrs. Do, a librarian at American High School. Looking for a mind that flows alongside the works of art, Mrs. Do looked for an illustrator for a project she was interested in. Finding that spark in Fu, Mrs. Do says, “She is someone who listens closely in order to understand preferences, artistic mediums, perspectives, and angles, not just the way to ‘look’ but to actually see perceptions of light and shadow, along with capturing the essence of someone/something in a visually aesthetic form.” Mrs. Do, impressed with Fu’s portfolio, expresses her enthusiasm to work with Fu again.

     In addition to growing in the world of painting, Fu also uses her talents in the digital world. Interning under Mr. Joseph Joly for the past few months, Fu has been developing her digital work in various ways. Mr. Joly views Fu as an artist with a work pattern similar to his. He recalls “aesthetic” being the first word that popped up when he first saw Fu’s artwork. Mr. Joly says, “She can evoke a range of feelings within the same work. She looks at things that nobody else sees.” 

Fu helped design this logo for Mrs.Joly’s therapeutic clinic. The logo has a profound meaning that goes beyond the surface, making tiny details visible as important as the major ones. The brightness of the color increases as the flower grows, showing the healing process. Mr. Joly recognizes they work alike and notices how she can procrastinate but says this, “Can’t force the process because I know the end product is going to be great.” 

     An example of Fu’s work under Mr. Joly would be his wife’s business’ logo. Mr. Joly’s wife, Mrs. Lilia Joly, is a family therapist, and they took the help of Fu to design her logo. Mr. Joly explains the symbolism behind the small details of the beautiful lily which serves as the logo. The thorns at the bottom represent the barriers one puts up to protect themselves from the emotional pain and stress. The therapeutic process leads to one discovering the issues and noticing the triggers that bring out the thorns, something one may have not noticed before. So, gradually as the flower grows, brighter colors are used and a family is depicted inside the flower to represent the emotional and mental growth they have gone through. 

     Mr. Joly says, “Elena had to understand the profound reasons for [the logo] and then illustrate it. The kid nailed it. She’s one of my favorite artists already. She senses her art.” Fu views this internship as an opportunity to experiment with style and creativity. As Mr. Joly provides the idea of the project, Fu gets practice in exercising different areas of art, not just sticking to her area of expertise. This opportunity also helps Fu to get acquainted with the idea of working with an employer, preparing her for the real world. 

     Not only does she depend on outside sources to grow, but Fu also continues to grow by herself. Over the past few months, Fu began painting individual portraits. Fu explains how she has always been interested in capturing the emotions of a person, calling it introspective. Lately, she has been working on these portraits with an idea to sell them online. As for the movement, the plan is quite tentative as Fu needs to work on more portraits to have an “elaborate, expansive, and updated portfolio.” Fu plans on using the profits to help the homeless, mostly around San Francisco. Fu says, “I would really like to actually talk to the people who this will be affecting as well as some experts, like managers of shelters, to get a full rounded opinion.” Fu wants to simply use her skills for the greater good and give back to the community.  

Having started painting a few years ago, easels and paint brushes have slowly eased their way into Fu’s life. While talking about her portrait paintings, Fu says, “It’s not just paintings or replicating an image but while painting, trying to capture who they really are.” 

     Apart from her art, Fu has also experimented with drama in the past. Kayla Villegas, another one of Ellie’s best friends, talks about her experience acting together. Fu started her acting career in the sixth grade when she played a henchman for the villain of a play. The play was about a comic book thief, and Fu says, “I adored anything comic book or superhero related. So of course I had to audition.” 

     Throughout middle school, Fu was quite terrified to audition, but in freshman year that all changed when she tagged along with Villegas to one of her plays. Fu remembers being roped into the play and ended up playing several minor roles. She may think that she isn’t great at acting, but Villegas has other thoughts. Villegas says, “She can stay in character really well! Last year she was Grimsby in the Little Mermaid and killed it as a proper old British man. We used to do improv scenes for fun, and she was so good at coming up with things on the spot.” Fu mentions how she would be willing to participate in more theatre in the future but more for the community and the fun rather than the acting. 

      Fu may not have an extensive history with drama, but she sure does with music. Fu’s parents originally enrolled her in piano classes, but she wasn’t that interested in it. However, her parents told her that playing an instrument was a must and so she decided on the guitar. After a year of guitar, Fu’s interest in guitar died down and then grew in the drums. She joined percussion in the band during middle school but ended up with the xylophone. Since that was too similar to the piano, Fu went back to the guitar. She began taking lessons for guitar but had to recently stop due to a finger injury. Fu has gotten to the point where she has fallen in love with her music and guitar. 

     Fu views music as therapy. There is a song for any mood one is in. Fu was a part of the junior band for the Battle of the Bands as the lead guitarist. Fu claims it was an entirely impulsive decision to join and admits to being insecure at first. She recalls her change of mind when she started playing fingerstyle Safe and Sound by Taylor Swift and thought she had nothing to lose if she auditioned. Sruthi Bhamidipati (11), one of the singers in the junior band, says working with Fu is amazing as they both have similar styles. Bhamidipati met Fu in sophomore year and had an instant connection due to their love for words and music. Bhamidipati says, “She works well with everyone, and I think it’s very easy for people to respect her.”

     Art works in different ways for everyone. For some it’s a job, some a hobby, some a passion, some a way of life. For Elena Fu, art is all of those words; it’s her passion, her escape, and her love. For the future, Fu says, “I definitely want to continue art in my future, maybe as a part time. I just really want to help people.” Fu has a unique way with her artistic abilities, and her sister Marissa Fu says, “She always puts huge efforts into the idea and conceptualization, as well as paying attention to each of the individual details.” Fu may not be the best artist out there in the real world yet, but she is definitely on her way to the top few.

Fu’s history with music is quite extensive but she believes it was all worth it. Currently practising on her guitar while stuck in quarantine, Fu is developing her guitar knowledge day by day. Fu finds her peace and calm within the beautiful strings of the guitar. 

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