16 08 2012

by: Suet Ferng

1.  Title:  “Seeing”

2.  Medium: Acrylic Painting (32′ x 20′ Canvas)

3.  Topic Abstract:

There are two segments to this painting. The upper segment depicts an ordinary tree that is birthing forth an extraordinary fruit. It takes an observant person to spot the fruit and there is a child standing right under the tree. The lower segment of the painting shows what goes on in the ground that is hidden from our naked lenses. There is an amazing wealth of resources and nutrients underground waiting to be tapped by the tree.

4.   Rationale (Including theoretical framework):

The person in the picture represents a visionary artist who notices the potential of a community. The tree looks old and unappealing, and people might have gotten used to its state of barrenness. However, the child’s indiscriminating attitude of awe leads him to see the world as what it is. As the child moves closer to the tree, he notices a special fruit on the tree.

Transformation can only take place when we are willing to step out and take notice of the people around us. The starting point may be a case of curiosity, or an acknowledgement and response to our eschaton (Corbitt & Nix-Early, 2003). Either which, there must be a point of connection with the subject. The connection may be made through field trips, or  even a relocation to the site, as outlined in John Perkin (2003)’s community development theory.

From the perspective of the community, the first step to transformation is to be noticed or heard. When there is a point of interest (ie. the interesting fruit on the tree), a “participatory dialogue” (Augusto Boal as cited in Corbitt & Nix-Early, p. 83) may take place. More people might come to see and talk about the fruit, and this may be the first step towards transformation.

The underlying wealth of resources (of which each is unique) refers to the assets embedded within a community. Authors such as Cleveland, Goldbard and Kretzmann & McKnight (Corbitt & Nix-Early, 2003) have all pointed out how community assets are vital in community development and transformation. The painting looks better and more complete when the two canvas pieces come together. This illustrates the need for partnership and integration between the subject and community assets. The tree can only have sustainable transformation and growth if it is deeply rooted and supported by the available resources. On the other hand, the talents in the community need to serve and give, in order to see and experience growth; when there is an uprising of talents and assets, flowers will bloom and fruits will emerge on the tree. Though we cannot see it now, what an exciting sight it will be when colorful fruits fill the entire crown of the tree in future!

5.   Development

First, I reflected on what transformation means to me, and to the community. With the main points in mind, I brainstormed on how I could illustrate the concept. Next, I sketched out the graphic I had in mind and researched on acrylic painting techniques. In the midst of painting, I had to take note of the scaling of the graphics, the mixing of paints to achieve the desired colors, and experimenting with different paint strokes. I also wanted to achieve two effects for the painting; the upper segment is supposed to reflect the natural realm and the lower segment is meant to take on a more abstract and fantasy-liked style. Over the one week of painting, I made many mistakes but the beauty of acrylic paint is that I can re-work the art piece, just like how compassionate reformers need to work through their problems in the community (Corbitt & Nix-Early, 2003).


6.   Intended Audience:

Colleagues and friends who visit the Alfresco reception area at my workplace.


7.  Challenges:

I am working in a medium that I am less familiar with. Film and drama would be more comfortable to me but I am at the stage of trying out different mediums and learning different techniques of presenting artistic concepts. I took a long time before I had the courage to put my first stroke on paper. I made many mistakes and had to redraw. The lack of experience in the medium, and the lack of proper equipment (eg. appropriate brushes) hindered the progress of the project. I had to improvise and re-think when I could not achieve the desired effect on the canvas. Despite that, I am glad to try a new medium and the outcome is encouraging.



Corbitt, N. & Nix-Early, V. (2003) Taking It To The Streets: Using the Arts to Transform Your Community. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker.

Goldbard, A. (2006) New Creative Community: The Art of Cultural Development. Oakland, CA: New Village Press.




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