The following story was submitted by Sharon Kow and is published with permission. Sharon shares her experience as the first colored pencil artist to be featured in a major art show in Malaysia - The Langkawi Art Biennale!! A huge milestone for Sharon and colored pencils as a medium in the fine art world. Enjoy reading! - Ann
The Langkawi Art Biennale 2016 was held in the Langkawi International Convention Centre from the 16th – 23rd November 2016 in Langkawi, a popular resort island in the northwest of peninsular Malaysia. 128 international and local artists from 33 countries participated in the event comprising of emerging and known Painters, Sculptors and Installation Artists from around the globe: Philippines, Indonesia, Taiwan, Nepal, India, Denmark, Norway, Australia, United Kingdom, France, Iraq, to name a few.
So you can imagine the surreal feeling that I felt when I was invited as one of the participants. This is the very first time that coloured pencil artwork was included and exhibited in this major art event locally. It is a huge milestone for this medium in Malaysia.
"Biennales are large-scale exhibitions of contemporary art, named for their host city and typically managed by a combinations of public art museums, government agencies and philanthropic supporters. As for the two—or three—year cycle, that’s simply a reflection of the time required to organize a large exhibition. A biennale is also a promotional platform for participating nations." (Source - What is Biennale?)
Prior to this, I have never heard of a Biennale, even if I have, I would not have known what is it all about. This opportunity came by in 2015, few months after my first coloured pencil art collaboration exhibition in November 2014. I wrote an email to ArtMalaysia, an organisation that promotes local artists, inviting them to the opening of the exhibition. but regrettably they could not make it as they were busy with the Inaugural Langkawi Art Biennale 2014 at that same time.
A few months after the exhibition I received a call from Mr. Liew, the founder of ArtMalaysia, requesting a visit to my studio/gallery to view my art work. He mentioned that he was very intrigued with this medium and wanted to know more about it. You can imagine my jitters when I got the call. Studio? Gallery? I have to tell him the truth that I do not have one and I work from home and was relieved that he was fine with that and still would like to meet me in person.
The day came and I brought along a couple of my unframed recent artwork. I was so nervous and even more so when I found out that he is a well known and respected art scout and promoter in the local art scene.
He really scrutinized my work and said that he was impressed with my art work. He asked many questions, how I did it, what brand of colour pencils I am using, what is my plan in the future, am I a serious artist or just doing it as a hobby? He needed the assurance that if he were to promote me as the coloured pencil artist, that I am serious in pursuing this as a long term career. I re-assured him that I am extremely serious in what I do and I will strive to get coloured pencil art recognized locally.
With that, he offered the invitation to the Biennale 2016 to me as a platform in getting the exposure for this medium. Each artist were required to produce 3 pieces of new unpublished artwork and I was to produce art work at the size of 36 x 36 inches (Yep, you read right!), no specific theme but no nudity or ‘disturbing’ art, and the deadline for submission of all artwork is by end December 2015.
For the next 6 months, I was working diligently for 8 hours every day. I have to be very disciplined in order to meet the deadline and I was really pushing the boundaries with colour pencils.
During the Biennale, apart from exhibiting their artwork, artists not only had the opportunity to mingle with each other, we also had the opportunity to meet up with art organizers and gallery owners. It is an event of forging friendship through art and lots of networking and opportunities.
Because of this new medium, I have received many ‘double take’ and garnered quite a substantial amount of attention and interest. Many could not believe that it was done using colour pencils. I foresee a good future in this medium locally.
A few days after the Biennale, I received an invitation to the 2017 Taiwan International Art Exchange Exhibition which will be held in April and I am the only colour pencil artist among the 40 invited international artists to be included in their 4th year event. It will be my first time to Taiwan and I am really looking forward to it and hopefully from there, coloured pencil art will get an even wider exposure.
A self-taught coloured pencil artist living and working in Penang, Sharon began seriously pursuing coloured pencil art in 2013 at the age of 43. Her style of art gravitate towards realism.
Her inspirations derives from everyday subjects. These common subject reflects her perception of the many human emotions and therefore every piece of her art reveals a deeper meaning than just a beautiful subject.
She has exhibited locally and internationally. Her work has been featured and published in several international publications.
Sharon received her Signature Status with Colored Pencil Society of America in 29th July 2016.
See more from Sharon at www.sharonsskow.com