Photo: Young Artists in Action get creative for the environment

(Credit: Peter Zhang)

By Winnie Hwo, Public Engagement Specialist

They called it Burgeon — an exhibition of 150 pieces of art and a fundraiser for the David Suzuki Foundation by new Canadian youth at the Emily Carr University of Art + Design's Concourse Gallery on Granville Island in late May. The event raised $2,190.

Recently, Leon Luo, Sumi Li and Heidi Wang, the young artists who organized and worked for months to make Burgeon happen, met the recipients of their fundraising effort, David Suzuki Foundation staffers. The talented young artists and their supportive moms shared their love and support with staff and volunteers over lemon and carrot cakes, and were joined by MOSAIC senior manager Khim Tan and settlement worker Daisy Au, who connected the young artists with the David Suzuki Foundation.

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It's not the first time the immigrant students from China have fundraised for a local charity. About two years ago, when Young Artists in Action received a grant from the Vancouver Foundation, the group's co-founders, Leon Luo and Sumi Li, accomplished artists and Grade 11 students at Lord Byng Secondary at the time, decided to channel their artistic endeavours to help outstanding local organizations with their work. (Last year's recipients included Kits Neighbourhood House and B.C. Children's Hospital.) But they didn't stop there; they invited peers from Vancouver high schools to join in.

This year, the artwork — which included photography, paintings, sculptures and fashion design — focused on environmental conservation and sustainability.

According to Leon Luo, supporting the David Suzuki Foundation and hosting an environmental art exhibition exceeded his expectations. "Honestly, I never paid that much focus on how human activities have impacted our living environment," he said. "Through the process of hosting this art exhibition, I have to do a lot of background researches of the habitats we live in and how our actions have put pressure on the natural environment. Until that moment, I had no idea how serious the problem has become."


Luo is graduating from high school this summer and is headed to UC Davis in San Francisco to study cinema and digital filming. Fellow Lord Byng student Sumi Li, who is headed to Cornell University to study architecture in the fall, said the experience made her feel welcome as a new Canadian.

"DSF makes us feel that we are needed by the community and we can make a remarkable effort to protect the environment. While doing fundraising events supporting David Suzuki Foundation, we felt that we were supported by it at the same time," Li said.

Although it is sad to see them leave, it is clear the young artists' newfound awareness of environmental conservation will burgeon. As we look forward to reconnecting with Luo and Li, the David Suzuki Foundation is ready to work with the next round of environmentally conscious new Canadian students from Young Artists in Action.

You can view more pictures from the event on Flickr.

June 24, 2015

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