Many artists draw inspiration from personal trials and tribulations as a form of motivation for their creative output. Well-known figures such as Yayoi Kusama and Vincent van Gogh both gather strength from their personal struggles, and have used it as a driving force to come up with wonderful works of art.

With the backing of Project Dreamcatchers, a support group led by the Department of Paediatrics in NUH, youths who are going through chronic illnesses will have their art works exhibited at the Singapore Art Museum from now till 22 Jan 2017.

Reflections on the Internet Phenomenon

Outwardly, Yang Xinyan Alexis, 24, looks not so different from you and I. Delve deeper, and you will see a kidney that isn’t faring so well and requires daily dialysis to keep on going. Even then, suffering from end-stage renal failure has not stopped her from expressing her thoughts through art.

Armed with a pen and sharp wit, Alexis’ artwork “Under My Skin” is a subversive look at the ‘A4 challenge’, an internet phenomenon that swept through China where girls held up pieces of paper to highlight how thin their waists were.

a4-phenomenon

“For years I kept it hidden under my skin. As mortality salience looms closer, I feel compelled to earnestly face my vulnerabilities and scars. My body, even with all its flaws and dependencies, still has the capacity to ambulate, sense and love.” – Alexis’ artist statement

Under My Skin by Alexis Yang

Under My Skin by Alexis Yang

Alexis’ waist is far from A4 friendly. It is one that hides a dark secret, one that makes her question her mortality. It is one that has been through battles and has come out stronger in the process. Alexis’ meticulous use of fine lines in her ink drawing is reminiscent of Donna Ong’s evocative sketches, an artist that she is inspired and drawn to in the course of her study at LASALLE College of the Arts.

Instead of letting negative thoughts of grief and denial punctuate their everyday lives, youths from Project Dreamcatcher have made use of art as an outlet to let their inner light shine through.

Guiding the Youth

Art is not an intuitive process for most of the youths supported in Dreamcatchers. To push their artistic boundaries, local artists (such as sticker-lady SKL0 and architect Ho Wai Kit) mentored the youths. The result of this collaboration was most interesting as it brought out the inner psyche and feelings of the youths, through their art pieces.

Many Ways of Seeing

Pang Poi Wong’s work that comprises of multiple layers that are illuminated within a holographic screen. The work is a social commentary on youth who are constantly seeking validation from their peers or society. It suggests that a way of breaking out of the repetitive, unsatisfactory need to seek external approval is something quite easy – just look inwards, dig deeper, and be yourself.

Reflection as Self Portrait by Pang Poi Pang

Reflection as Self Portrait by Pang Poi Wong

Disconnect to Connect

A question that runs through our mind as we view the space and count our blessings. How then, can we lead our everyday lives in a more purposeful and meaningful way?

Inspired by the slogan from Thailand’s DTAC campaign, “Disconnect to Connect”, Lim Si Jia’s “Here” leaves us with multiple thought-provoking truisms.

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Even in the darkness there is light. There is something to look forward to, it is a matter of looking in the right places.


Project Dreamcatchers Exhibition

Venue: Singapore Art Museum, 71 Bras Basah Road Singapore 189555
Date: 9 December 2016 to 22 January 2017
Opening hours: 10am to 7pm (Sat – Thurs); 10am to 9pm (Fri)

A full list of artworks can be found on Project Dreamcatcher’s e-catalogue here.

This article is brought to you by A List.