Senior Edition 2018: Features
America Through the Eyes of an Artist
Article by Jess Harmon
It began with a sketch. It was one of the most unforgettable days of her life. She drew buildings and bridges and lights,everything she saw when she first moved to America. Her fear and excitement all captured onto a piece of paper. The people who filled this new home did not speak her language, but when they would look at what she had made, they’d be able to see through her eyes.
Senior, Clynn Yeoh, moved from Alor Setar, Kedah in Malaysia to Kings Mills, Ohio when she was ten years old. When she started junior high, she was assigned to submit a drawing for the Doodle 4 Google competition, and the prompt was to draw the best day of her life. Clynn decided that although her first day in the United States wasn’t the best day of her life, it was a day she would never forget. Now Clynn’s art hangs as mural in the Kings Junior High, and part of her story is there for all to see.
“I really like art because it is something that doesn’t require teamwork, no communication with other people is needed, and that really helped me think through a lot of stuff when I first got here and didn’t have any friends,” explains Clynn as she describes the struggle of not only moving to a new school, but a new continent.
“One of the scariest parts about moving was that I didn’t really know English. I know a lot of it now, but you guys have different accents and habits and cultures, and even right now it’s still kind of weird to me.”
Despite the cultural and language barriers, Clynn found herself through her art and learned how to express and speak for herself creatively.
Her brother, Kelvin Yeoh, has watched her grow as an artist ever since they moved from Malaysia.
“We rarely draw at young age, and the school in Malaysia did not provide any opportunities for students who are interested in art, so at that time, we really didn’t notice anything yet. But since she started junior high, and took art classes, it started to show, and that’s when I saw the talent in Clynn.”
Art wasn’t always used as a way to cope with dramatic transitions within her life, but instead as a way to find herself, something all teenagers struggle to do.
“One of the reasons I got into art is because I have an older brother who is good at everything, effortlessly. I have always looked up to him so I started to think that I should find my own way to improve myself as a person instead of trying to surpass him at something that he is good at, which is art, something that I’ve always enjoy doing.”
While Clynn tends to let her energy and expression out through her drawings and sculptures she is otherwise reserved and quiet around her peers. It is not unusual for her to get shocked looks when she speaks in class, but when she does say something, it’s always worth listening.
“The first friend that I made still tells me that she remembers when I spoke for the first time in class for presentation, and how surprise everyone was to hear my voice. Thinking back now, it was not that I didn’t want to talk to anyone, but I was afraid that people wouldn’t understand what I was trying to say, and being made fun of.”
Clynn’s oldest brother, Ee Yeoh, gets to experience a version of Clynn that she normally reserves for her art and the people she trusts. “My favorite thing about Clynn is her optimism. She always smiling and make people’s day brighter. She might seemed reserved at first, but once you get to know her, she is very different from how she usually is. It’s a good difference though.”
Despite her insecurities, it is obvious to many that Clynn is talented and hardworking. Carrie Cooke, Kings High School art teacher, has taught Clynn since her sophomore year and has watched her grow as an artist and as a human being.
“She’s such a hard worker, and she has so much talent, I don’t think she even knows how much talent she has. She’s incredibly humble.”
“I think one of the things that makes Clynn special is that she has to work, I’d say, 95% harder than the rest of the students here. Not only does she spend hours outside of school on her art work, but she also works a full-time job at her family’s restaurant, and she has to keep on top of her school work as well.” Cooke explains. Clynn’s determinism appears to shine through everything she does, and will continue to do so in the future.
Clynn will be attending the University of Cincinnati in the fall of 2018, majoring in interior design. “I still have a lot to learn and discover in that area, but I really want to give it a try.” Although her major seems unexpected to some, everyone has high hopes for Clynn in her future endeavors.
Cooke sends Clynn off with pride. “I just hope some day she is doing whatever she loves and is happy doing it. Hopefully I can walk through a house some day and it’ll be designed by Clynn.”
With the support of her family and friends, Clynn is soon going to be sent off into her bright future. Kelvin says, “I believe Clynn will do great in the future, either in college or in the society. With her hardworking and strong determination attitude, I think she can overcome any obstacle that came in her way and achieve her goal.”