This past winter, we put a call out to the UBC community for submissions of their original artwork and animations with a particular question in mind: How do you help others Thrive? We received an outpouring of stories told through art, from the unique perspectives of some of our community's creative minds.
2021 was a tumultuous year that demanded resilience and optimism. Many of us were able to reunite with friends, family and loved ones as a powerful reminder of the value of community and coming together, but of course, it was also a year of plot twists and unexpected challenges. Many of the original illustrations put forth by members of the community used shared imagery of growing through struggle and paid homage to things we share, like the land and natural environment, while also highlighting strength through difference, and how all of these components contribute to what it means to thrive together.
Children and Youth Category
The winner of the Children and Youth category winner, S. Suresha, hand-drew a variety of flowers adorning the words "Strive to Thrive". This original tagline embodies the creator's perception of the prompt to be "abstract, vast and endless." They were particularly inspired to draw on thriving through resiliency, and drew a variety of flowers that specifically are capable of growing in harsh conditions, like the Coneflower, Daylily, Daffodil, Coral bells, Lily of the Valley, Amsonia, and Yarrow. Suresha hopes this artwork will "inspire people to strive to be their best and put in the effort to thrive in whatever they’re doing."
A. Vinson created a digital illustration that told the story of fostering good mental health practices during the COVID-19 pandemic. Vinson wanted to share the lesson that "sometimes as humans, we need to take things at our own pace, and the snail symbolizes us as individuals. Slow and steady, the snail carries the world on its back and takes its time to venture throughout its environment". This illustration represents how one of our greatest strengths as humans is how we can "remain strong enough to carry our world on our backs and keep going".
Our other honourable mention created "a cohort of birds reaching new heights." The artist A. Young said that "Thriving to me, is not simply surviving, but truly living in the moment. The birds are depicted as soaring in the skies, in a unified front. They are specifically seagulls, from BC's west coast". Young was particularly influenced by an experience they had at Granville Island, where they took particular note of how seagulls stand firm through fear and work as a group to support each other. They hope their illustration reminds members of the UBC community that "this year has been difficult for everyone, but... together we are stronger."
This year's winner of the Student category chose to create a lettering piece that expressed the theme of "Thriving Together through various types of plants growing side by side." S. Liang described the digital drawing process in detail, using "layers to create the effect of block-like shading...a different brush for each plant, and more" to create the final piece. Liang chose to use the plant imagery to highlight the value of individual differences: "though the plants weren’t alike, they still were able to grow, showing how different people can unite and help the whole community thrive."
P. Awasthi chose to also integrate flora and fauna into their image but chose to make a person the symbolic centre of their artwork. The person in their image "taking off their glove symbolizes them overcoming their greatest fear....accepting who they are and not being afraid of expressing themselves", and being greeted with a flurry of red flowers that represent being rewarded by society for their sincerity. Awasthi wanted to share their belief through this illustration that thriving can be achieved by "overcoming fear" and accepting yourself.
S. Peng also chose to feature human subjects in their illustration, which secured them the other honourable mention in the Student category. They were inspired by the adage "everyone has a candle and we live in darkness", and chose to build on that metaphor by illustrating "thriving together, [by] lighting our own candles and admiring each other’s unique lights while showcasing our own". Like many of our illustrators, Peng put thought into even the smallest of details in their contest entry, choosing specifically to give their center character white hair to " represent diversity as all colours are part of white."
The Animator category winners were P. Lu and L. Xu, who put together a nostalgic eight-bit clip of a tree growing from a seed. The animation parallels classic video games – the seedling faces the momentous challenge of breaking through a roof, which "the tree is able to overcome" by growing through it. They believe that learning from challenges and the memories they leave behind are an important part of a thriving, represented by the "piece of the roof left on the ground as a memory of the challenge."
H.M. Ventosa believes that "to thrive and to grow means taking care of yourself and your surroundings". Their art was made from an image of BC's typography, which undergoes a process called "organic growth" to represent the way communities and lands thrive together. Ventosa believes strongly that "to thrive is to preserve nature, build relationships, and take care of our mental health", which are all "intrinsically related as the environment impacts our mental health and the way we relate to each other".
Thank you to all entrants for helping us celebrate the beautiful and unique ways we support each other during challenging times!
See the Thrive Together projections for yourself at M.C. Money Lee Square after dusk from now until April.