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Teenager displays sweet art installation

By Angel St. George

Published 2:07 PDT, Fri May 20, 2022

Angel Yuan is a 16-year old artist who recently displayed her original art installation, Sugar Coated, at Richmond’s Lipont Gallery. 

The display is a colourful landscape, reminiscent of mountain ranges depicted in Dr. Seuss’s art, that replicates the appearance of quartz crystal with the use of sugar.

Yuan’s unconventional work of art intends to convey a message about the importance of reporting both the “sweet” and “salty” side of environmental issues. She believes that the truth about humans’ impact on the environment shouldn’t be sugar-coated with optimism.

“I went to a recycling centre to pick out each piece of Styrofoam for the structure, cleaned them up, and then used sugar to colour them instead of a toxic material like spray paint,” says Yuan. “Underneath the sugar coating is bits and pieces of news articles and information about the environment, but you can’t really see it because it’s covered in sugar—therefore sugar-coating news about the environment.”

Yuan wanted to create art with a message that people don’t need to read into, which instead speaks for itself.

“The media says there’s time for us to act, but I think we need to admit that it’s already gotten out of hand,” says Yuan. “We need the media to portray our environmental impact at face value, so that people feel a sense of urgency. We can’t ignore things that are negative, we have to show them too because that’s how you get people to pay attention. I don’t want to create a sense of doom and gloom, because that can be discouraging. The goal is to create positive change based on honesty.”

The young artist believes change starts with little choices people make every day that could contribute to a healthier environment.

“The things I do to minimize the impact I have on the environment (include) working with sustainable materials when creating art,” says Yuan. “Being more aware of the little choices I make is an important part of making a positive change on a larger scale.”

Yuan also avoids fast fashion when she can, and instead buys pieces that are ethically sourced and made to last. Fast fashion gets its name from the speed at which high volumes of clothing are produced, although items tend to be lower-quality and more inexpensive to purchase.

According to the Recycling Council of Ontario, the average Canadian throws out 81 pounds of clothing annually. North Americans send 10 million tonnes of clothing to the landfill every year, most of which could be reused or recycled according to statistics complied by Waste Reduction Week in Canada.

When an item is thrown away, not only does the item itself go to waste, but also the natural resources required to create it.

“People often buy cheap (items) because they can buy more, but I challenge those people to ask themselves if they really need to buy that much,” says Yuan. “It’s rewarding to know where the things you buy are coming from and that the hands that make them are the hands of people (who) are rewarded fairly for their work.” 

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