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Soyi SO

In the vibrant cityscape of Hong Kong, where challenges abound, the path of artistic development is often perceived as arduous. Yet, resilient artists persistently wield their creativity to inspire and resonate with others. In this edition, we invited Ms Soyi SO, a graduate from Department of Visual Studies (renamed to Department of Digital Arts and Creative Industries) in 2014, to share her remarkable journey, exploring her dual development in art administration and art creation, and how her passion in art influence lives.
Unique Personality and Alignment with Art
Describing herself as "uniquely peculiar", Soyi initially pursued a degree in Law and Business at Hong Kong Shue Yan University driven by her pursuit of justice. However, introspection led her to realize that her personality didn’t align with the rigors of rational judgment.  After retaking A-level exam, she ultimately chose to pursue a degree in Visual Studies at Lingnan University, “A senior told me that the distinguishing feature of Lingnan Visual Studies was that its emphasis on critical thinking and art appreciation, rather than only skills learning. This was an attractive point for me.” During her one-year hall life, she wasn’t really active in Hall but dedicated most of her effort and time to the Lion Dance and Martial Art Team. She served as the team leader for two years and was primarily in charge of drumming position. At that time, lion dance teams were not prevalent among universities, so the Lingnan team was often invited to perform at different occasions. “I had never tried lion dance before. During orientation day, the members recruited me enthusiastically and I was interested in traditional culture. I even apprenticed to Pak Mei lion dance!”
Soyi remains grateful to Lingnan’s inspiring faculty members. Among them are Prof. DE CLERCQ Rafael, and Prof. Sophia LAW. Their mentorship extended beyond the classroom, shaping her artistic sensibilities and fostering critical thinking. Soyi’s journey was enriched by their guidance. “Sophia knows that I am concurrently developing my career in art administration and art creation. She has given me loads of support and sometimes I share my work troubles with her.” Soyi was also fortunate to have an internship opportunity at “Fotanian”, which led her into the art development industry. “Fotanian” brings together a group of local and international artists, and their annual studio open day is a notable event in art industry. It allows the public to interact with artists and exchange creative insights. Her experience of being media tour guide for an oversea artist not only allowed her to be featured in a magazine for the first time, but also paved the way for her career in art administration.
Professional Experiences in Facilitating Growth and Impacting Lives through Art
Following her graduation from Lingnan University, Soyi focused on art administration work and her most memorable experience was her time at TWGHs Jockey Club Sunshine Complex for the Elderly, where was a new center pioneering in elderly’s art developments so to help them releasing negative emotions. However, this innovative concept initially faced resistance. “Both social workers and frontline caring staff didn’t have a full picture of the art development and worried about interfering their daily work. So, I did encounter some unfriendly treatment.” To address their concerns, Soyi proposed a clear direction to her supervisor after 1 month joining the team. She was determined to break the traditional notion that “the elderly cannot be involved in art” and change the mindset of her colleagues. This job provided her with endless satisfaction, particularly when seeing the emotional changes on the elderly with Dementia. On the other side, she put efforts on staff training, utilizing art activities to alleviate the stress of frontline staff and providing them with firsthand experiences to better understand her daily work. One of her most memorable activities was leading the elderly to participate in a handicraft market themed “Nostalgic Chinese Restaurant”. During this event, the elderly dressed up as waiters and waitresses, and the booth showcased clay dim sum and postcards handmade by the elderly themselves which enhanced their sense of self-identification in the community. Furthermore, in 2017, when Ms. PENG Liyuan, the spouse of President XI Jinping of China, visited the center, Soyi hosted a session where the elderly and Mrs. XI collaboratively made 3D cards.
Artistic Creation in Search of Self: Learning to Reconcile with Oneself
After graduating the master programme, Soyi established her own brand, "So·藝記”. Her creations primarily revolve around ink art and mixed media, expressing personal emotions and addressing social issues. Influenced by her father’s background in metaphysics, Soyi has been familiar with talismanic script since childhood, which sparked her interest in Chinese traditional culture and the conceptual and artistic elements it embodies. She delves into ink art and combines it with Western culture to create her unique style.
Soyi places particular emphasis on emotional expression and aims to resonate with the audience through her artwork. She organized an exhibition titled "It’s ok to be not ok", drawing inspiration from her personal experiences. "I have gone through periods of emotional lows, and a friend even criticized me for expressing negative emotions. This made me reflect on why is there a prevalent tendency in society to focus only on the positivity and avoid discussing negativity." There were many visitors who left her the message cards after the show, to share their same feeling and sympathy the event. She wishes to dedicate more time to creation in the future and make a sequel of the exhibition “It’s ok to be not ok”. 
Healing Pain with Compassion: Encouraging Juniors to Explore Fearlessly
In the midst of emotional turbulence, Soyi sought solace from an art therapist and embarked on a therapeutic journey that ignited her curiosity about the potential of art therapy. “Towards the end of our sessions,” she reflected, “the therapist would occasionally glance at his watch. Although he allowed me to continue sharing, his subtle gesture left me somewhat hesitant. If I were in his shoes, would I consciously avoid body language that might be misconstrued, ensuring patients feel at ease expressing their emotions?”
Soyi is currently pursuing Art Therapy through distance learning courses from Vancouver. Her aspirations lie in becoming a registered art therapist, with a particular focus on addressing family-related issues. Having grappled with family challenges during her own childhood, Soyi carries emotional scars. Now, she hopes to use her personal experiences and knowledge to facilitate healing for others who have faced similar situations.
As she advises fellow juniors embarking on their post-graduation journey, Soyi advocates for an attitude of “Nothing to lose.” Along the path of artistic development, she encourages courage, vulnerability, and the humble presentation of one’s artwork to the world.