Published for INSPADES Magazine, “Issue Tre”
BY ANISSA R. STAMBOULI
“I am a poet, artist and philanthropist,” declares teenage artistic sensation Heidi Wong, an overachiever from Hong Kong Island with a knack for palette knife painting, monochromatic drawings and relatable verse.
Attending art school from ages six to fifteen, Wong’s life was saturated with “realistic drawing” instruction. When she realized “the ability to transform knowledge and technical skill into art could not be learned in a classroom,” Wong decided to leave the structure of her environment in pursuit of the road less traveled.
“I do think my training in art school helped solidify my technical skills, though I discovered my ‘style’ in knife painting purely through practice and self-teaching.”
Each of the paintings exhibited in INSPADES Magazine involve Wong’s knife work, as the “exaggerated strokes and textures help accentuate an emotional aspect within each painting.” The vibrancy in Wong’s use of colour is nothing less than explosive, with fiery reds bursting through texturized paint and blues so deep, that the eye is lured into the crevice of Wong’s experiential hub.
“I’ve always admired the works of Monet and Van Gogh, as they embody what it means to evoke emotion through painting,” Wong reflects, “Through their work, I’ve begun to understand how some ‘unrealistic’ styles of art can display the kind of truth that reality could never show.”
As a person with synesthesia, a condition whereby a perceived sense-impression is experienced in a different location from where the sense is actually being stimulated on the body, Wong has a unique painting experience: “I feel like the person painting is separate from who I am. The choices I make seem almost involuntary, as if there’s an external force controlling my actions and I’m merely experiencing them.”
Similar to the contrasting forces of order and abstract in her tumultuously rich oil paintings, Wong feels “both in control and completely free” when working. While some artists create to appease a longing, Wong’s drive is “innate, instinctive, addictive; I’ve never seen painting as a ‘passion’ of mine, but rather something that just happens with or without my consent,” she elaborates. It is this nagging need to create that accounts for Wong’s bold and expressionist style; she will continue to attack the canvas with colourful energy and expression regardless of feedback or criticism.
“Sometimes I don’t paint for weeks, and sometimes I paint every day of the week,” says Wong, who creates when she feels the need, rather than according to external demand. “I find myself in the studio for longer when there are higher levels of stress in my personal life. Sometimes I’m in the studio for the entire day and don’t even notice time flying by,” she continues. Like many artists, Wong looks to her work for a sense of escape, a chance to “become detached from the outside world and in turn, become more in touch with myself.”
Though she’s now a cross-continental traveler, dividing her living space between Upstate New York, Manhattan, Beijing, and Hong Kong, Wong initially made a name for herself in China and through the Instagram community.
At the age of seventeen, Wong collaborated with the Chinese entertainment publication, Phoenix New Media, in October of 2015 for their annual live charity art auction. “I singlehandedly raised over $43,000 USD towards leukemia treatment for children in rural china,” Wong tells INSPADES of her set, “” and “”. Gaining further exposure in China for her artistic flare, Heidi won the National Art and Calligraphy Competition of China for six consecutive years.
In addition to her philanthropic efforts, Wong amassed a near 100,000 following on Instagram, where she “first started receiving recognition” for posts of her artwork and poetry.
If you can remember what you were doing during sophomore year, it probably wasn’t nearly as productive as Wong’s high school career. At the age of fifteen, Wong began writing poetry and published Sixteen within a year, a collection of ninety eight poems recording her teenage experience.
Through the Simon & Schuster imprint, Archway Publishing—an enabler of quality self-publishing, Wong released Sixteen in May 2015; by June of the same year, Sixteen had already accumulated $15,000 USD, all of which was donated to the John Hopkins Center for Talented Youth alumni scholarship fund, including future proceeds, as this was an institution where Wong studied.
Currently completing creative writing and fine arts at Hamilton College in Upstate New York, Wong continues to grow her viewership through social media, magazine features and exhibitions in the New York City area.