Multicultural digital artwork earns Craig student state honors
June 28, 2018
CRAIG — Painful encounters with racism inspired young Craig artist Winnie Li, 14, to create digital art that earned the top award for the "One World, Many Voices" competition held by the Colorado Department of Education's Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education Academy.
"I'm proud of the award, because I never won any awards before," she said.
Winnie is of Asian descent. She was born in New York and traveled to China with her family when she was younger. She struggled with the language before coming back to the United States with her family — which moved to Craig in 2017 — to open Spicy Basil restaurant.
"Racist people, they don't take the time to know who you are. They assume you eat dogs. No, we do not," she said.
In seeking a theme for her art, Winnie initially considered featuring people with disorders.
"My art teacher suggested trying something else, so I thought about digital. No one is really doing that. It's my style, so I started doing that," she said.
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She began collecting Pokémon cards and drawing the characters at age 8, challenging herself to draw freehand instead of copying the images.
Describing how the creative process works for her, Winnie said: "First, you’re inspired because of the amount of talent it takes to create something. Then, you can see the challenge artists have to make something new. You want to try to do better."
CMS art teacher Martha Laliberte was impressed with Winnie.
"She is extremely focused, determined, kind, very creative and quiet, but with a very quick sense of humor. She won't give up. If I present a prompt or problem, she will produce a project," she said.
Adding that Winnie is skilled in linear drawing and using the computer, Laliberte sees a bright future in architecture or computer graphic art for the gifted student.
"I've spoken with the Colorado Department of Education coordinator for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education about the potential for Winnie to earn a scholarship for college," Laliberte said. "I think that would be awesome.
Winnie will enter high school in the fall, and while she's a little nervous about it, she's also excited about improving her art.
"When I see my drawing I see things that are not good. Proportion is really bad; when I see others, I think mine is bad. I get frustrated and have thrown my art away," she said.
Art teachers help her stretch herself and developing skills to perfect her style.
"You can't draw like the olden days. There is new technology, and you have to challenge yourself to draw something new," she explained.
Winnie thinks art is useful, both inside and outside the classroom.
"Learning can be really hard, and art is there to help you learn," she said.
She hopes her artwork will be an inspiration, "to show people that have been the victim of racism, art can give you another way of happiness."
Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.