Meet Claire Kim, Our 2024 Art Contest 1st Place Winner (Ages 11-14)

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Claire Kim with her artwork, “Wonders of the Twilight Zone”

The Science Without Borders® Challenge has once again captivated audiences worldwide with its remarkable success, drawing in over 1,700 artworks from 82 different countries, all revolving around the theme of “Hidden Wonders of the Deep” and portraying the beauty and mystery of life in the deep sea. Though admiring the creative and artistic pieces was undoubtedly a highlight, my personal favorite aspect of the contest is the opportunity to engage with the winners, their teachers, and their families. Once again, this year proved to be no different.

In my recent conversation with Claire Kim, the first-place winner in the ages 11-14 group, and her art teacher at Griffith Woods School, Ms. Jennifer Hutchinson, along with Claire’s mom, Elena, I was struck by Claire’s humility, generosity, and exceptional talent. Ms. Hutchinson shared, “I’m not surprised that Claire won because she has the mastery of the tools, and I know she’s also a learner, but I also think she stands apart to me because she captures the essence of things so beautifully.” Claire’s commitment to her craft and ability to listen, understand, and translate emotions into art were evident throughout our conversation.

Claire’s artistic journey is more than just her talent; it’s also about the amazing support she receives. Ms. Hutchinson’s admiration for Claire’s work was apparent when she recounted a heartwarming story of Claire creating personalized artwork for her classmates during Halloween. Ms. Hutchinson vividly described Claire’s thoughtful actions as she silently distributed mini paintings, each accompanied by a handwritten note tailored to the recipient. The level of detail and intricacy in Claire’s paintings was remarkable, with shadows that added depth to her creations. When Ms. Hutchinson proposed creating a collage display with the artwork and offered to return the pieces to the students afterward, they refused to part with them, demonstrating how much they treasured Claire’s thoughtful gifts. This touching experience showcased Claire’s artistic skill and highlighted her generosity in using her talent to positively impact those around her. Supported by dedicated mentors and a loving family, Claire thrives in an environment that values her artistic creativity.

Learn more from my interview with Claire about what she learned from this experience, why she wants others to learn about the deep sea, and so much more. Our conversation has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Q: What inspired you to create your art piece?

A: I wanted to show the beauty of the ocean in my art, and I was really inspired by certain animals. For example, I put a giant squid to show off its long tentacles, and I also put jellyfish to show the vibrant lights and colors. However, the deep sea is dark, and this beauty is hidden without light, so I made a light source from the anglerfish to show how magnificent they actually look.

Claire, along with her sisters and family, marveled at the graceful jellyfish swimming in front of them while at the Vancouver National Airport’s Aquarium, which ignited her imagination and inspired Claire’s winning artwork.

Q: Can you describe the process of creating your artwork for the “Hidden Wonders of the Deep” theme?

A: I saw a photo of a giant squid and immediately knew I had to incorporate it into my piece. I also remember the mesmerizing look of the jellyfish I saw at the aquarium, and I knew it also had to be added to my painting. Slowly, I added some small critters, then some white dots, and it all fell into place.

Q: What do you want people to get from your artwork?

A: My art piece is a painting about the hidden beauty of the deep ocean. Many people may think of ugly or distorted creatures at the sound of the deep sea. But what many don’t know is that the deep sea can also be beautiful. My piece represents the beauty of these creatures, slowly being revealed as a soft light is being exposed.

Claire’s artistic journey began at British Columbia’s Terrace Public Library’s youth art exhibition in 2021. Her first public display ignited a passion for painting and a newfound interest in observing details.

Q: Why is the ocean important to you?

A: The ocean is important to me because I love ocean animals. Without a clean ocean, marine animals will always be in danger, and they won’t give the marine animals a chance at life.

Q: What did you learn by participating in the Science Without Borders® Challenge?

A: Participating in the Science Without Borders® Challenge required me to take my time and research the topic. I ended up learning a lot, from the sizes of the animals to the creatures who live in the deep sea and even the harm they receive. I also spent time observing the previous topics and artwork from the Science Without Borders® Challenge because they are all about the ocean so that they will be related.

Q: What impact do you hope your artwork will have on viewers regarding raising awareness about the importance of preserving our ocean?

A: I hope my painting shows my viewer how beautiful the ocean is. Whether it is the deep parts or the shallow parts, it is all worth thriving for. I hope to inspire others to preserve the beauty of our ocean because it won’t last forever unless we make changes.

Q: What are your plans for the future? Do you plan to pursue a career in art or science?

A: I really love art. It can expand my creativity and give me new perspectives. However, I never took the time to think about my future career. I’m most likely to expand my career through my experience and achievements in art.

Q: What advice would you give to someone who is considering entering the Science Without Borders® Challenge?

A: My advice would be to plan beforehand. Give yourself more time than you need to research, plan, change your mind, and make mistakes. Making an art piece is a journey; you never know what could go wrong. Therefore, you must be prepared.

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