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(Image: Taylor Wang)
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Artist of the Week: Taylor Wang

Seattle might be notorious for niche coffee shops and scenic waterways, but locals know it's also home to an array of people who love to create. This city is chock-full of artists who we love to feature weekly on Seattle Refined! If you have a local artist in mind that you would like to see featured, let us know at hello@seattlerefined.com. And if you're wondering just what constitutes art, that's the beauty of it; it's up to you! See all of our past Artists of the Week in our dedicated section.

Seattle Refined: How long have you been creating? Do you work with other mediums?
Taylor Wang: I have loved creating since I knew how to pick up a crayon and aimlessly scribble on my living room wall (much to the dismay of my parents). At the beginning of high school, when I started considering this as a serious career path, I really challenged myself to elevate both my technical skill and the message I wanted to send with my art. One of my number one goals right now is to actively create interdisciplinary work, especially larger projects like murals, protest art and public art.

Can you tell us about your artistic process and how the different stages work into it?
I usually have an image in my head of exactly what I want the piece to look like, and I will create a few sketches either in Photoshop or pen and paper to solidify these ideas. Since digital art is very convenient, I also find myself sometimes letting my thoughts guide a piece without any particular end goal in mind. The results of this exercise can turn out very weird and awkward, or they can also be quite beautiful. I think that finding a balance between meticulously planning out a work and freestyling on a whim offers an abundance of creative potential.

Tell us about where your inspiration for your art come from?
My work draws heavily from my own experiences as a young person growing up surrounded by uncertainty, as well as collective Gen-Z anxieties about issues like climate change and social justice. Whether it is at the museum in downtown Seattle, on a stroll in my neighborhood or hunched over my laptop in a cafe, I take photos and jot down reminders for potential art references. Social media — while discouraging at times — is where I discover new artists the most. I have met several social justice artists via Instagram, like Monyee Chau, Ameya Okamoto and Sanna Legan that have shown me the power of protest art in the digital age.

Do you have a specific "beat" you like best – nature, food, profiles, etc.?
I place focus on creating a detailed, meaningful composition often through a combination of portraits and other elements. Since I am still developing my style, I try to not let myself get too comfortable with a certain style because I want to constantly challenge myself to expand my thinking. Right now, I really like that early 1900s Art Nouveau style pioneered by Alphonse Mucha, as well as art that has Islamic geometric influences like Kehinde Wiley's paintings.

Do you have one piece of art that means more to you, or is extremely special to you?
The piece Self Care connects back to a time in my life when I had the most insecurity and self-doubt. Rolling waves and koi fish in a bathtub resonated with that version of me — a teen who felt like her energy was being boxed in by her environment. I wanted the painting to seem innocent and unassuming at first until the viewer looks closer and notices the trash, bottles and mold strewn about. It serves as a reminder, not just to others but to myself, that people go through more than they let on.

What experiences in your life have affected your art the most?
I entered high school feeling ashamed and terrified of my identity and sexuality, partly due to the judgment I faced from the people around me. As a pessimistic 14-year-old who could only focus on the negatives, I failed to recognize all the privileges I had, especially when it came to education and family. However, during this time, I also began to pursue art as an outlet for all the fear I was feeling. Art turned into a way of coping with anxiety and grief, and even after I learned to remove myself from harmful situations, I still found solace in my art.

If we want to see more of your work, where should we go to find it?
You can find me on Instagram @yingshiart or website tayloryingshi.wixsite.com/arts.

What is next for you? Anything you're working on right now that you're really excited about?
I can always be found working with my organization Student Art Spaces! We host cost-free art galleries and events led directly by youth and for youth (see studentartspaces.org), and our recent expansion has resulted in several international chapters of SAS springing up. Find us on @studentartspaces on Instagram to support youth art! Beyond that, my art will be displayed in the U.S. Capitol building for the next year thanks to Kim Schrier's art competition, and I am working with a climate awareness group as part of an artistic fellowship this summer.

Lastly, how do you take your coffee? (We ask everyone!)
I don't drink coffee, truthfully. Although, I recently made Dalgona coffee because I have seen the drink trending on social media, and I would highly recommend it!

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