Self Manifestations of S.H. Ho College Graduands

Graduands are often busy with dissertations and attending job interviews for future long-term development. Thirteen S.H. Ho College graduands, however, chose to review their college life over the past three to four years to explore their dreams and what they have been striving for. Their inner explorations and authentic stories were crystallized into graduation photos and installation artwork displayed in ‘I am Graduate’ Arts and Photo Exhibition held from 10 April to 12 May 2014 on 3/F in Chan Chun Ha Hall. To them, growth means walking step-by-step. It’s also the process of learning to live in the moment.

Winnie, S.H. Ho College Student Counsellor, is the curator of the exhibition. She observed that the graduates nowadays prefer capturing their memorable moments with their families and friends on the campus, rather than taking photos in studio. In light of this, she invited thirteen graduands to a studio for photo shooting and artwork creation. Throughout the process of playful creation were their nerves calmed, they explored multiple possibilities in life and reinterpreted their ‘selves’. Growth is not a result, but an experiential process. ‘I am a CUHK alumna. The three-year university life left a profound impact in my growth. I organized many activities when I was a student, but I didn’t consolidate and reflect on my experiences. When I looked back, I felt that I was merely occupied with many tasks. I hope that the graduating exhibitors focus on ‘here and now’ and consolidate their experiences in growth by retouching their images and artwork creation. This is a process to farewell their college life, preparing themselves to start a new page,’ Winnie elaborated.

People embrace security. Aspiring to have a stable job and secured livelihood, they occupy themselves with planning and equipping for their future. Nevertheless, everyone only lives their youth once. The process of growing up is worth tasting. Flooding oneself with endless tasks is comparatively easy. How many people will pause and contemplate on themselves, pondering their authentic quest in the moment? Upon arriving at the studio, S.H. Ho graduands meditated to review their university life over the past few years, and slowly prepared artwork as graduation gifts for themselves. One of them made a decorated graduation cap. Another graduand prepared a vivid mask. After creating their own artwork, the graduands held their own products and grasped some props for spontaneous photo shooting. Neither a mirror nor preparation time was provided for posture brainstorming. All of a sudden, the photographer had already taken their natural and authentic moments. Several days later, Winnie brought students the photo prints for retouching as part of the arts installations on 3/F, Chan Chun Ha Hall.

Believing everyone has the innate potential to change, Winnie positions herself as a companion assisting students to know themselves during the artwork creation process. A student was perplexed right at the beginning of brainstorming for her own graduation artwork design. Winnie encouraged her to trust her own self in the moment and gradually piece together their memories in university life and growth. Trying out step-by-step, she even could not stop creating and needed to borrow materials to continue her artwork creation in hostel. Upon her own arts installation was completed, she initiated to invite her friends to appreciate the artwork. Winnie thought that was a symbol of confidence and a great leap forward. To know ourselves requires stepping out of our comfort zone. The process is perplexing itself as we attempt to be different from our ordinary selves. From knowing oneself through art to finding a unique way for self-manifestation, every graduand follows their own pace to explore the multiple possibilities in life rather than complying with the social norm to meet their ‘ideal selves’. Every exhibit carries an authentic life story of a particular graduand.

The process preparing for the exhibition was strenuous, but the graduands treasured the valuable opportunity for deep self-exploration. Olivia Tsang and Howard Yeung reflected the personality dimension test taken at the initial stage of the programme helped them know their strengths and weaknesses, and the discoveries were revealed in their artwork. Even Lau felt comfortable and unrestrained during artwork creation. Howard found the photo-taking and artwork creation process meaningful as he had not tried any of those ever since he entered the University. All the participating graduands were thankful to Winnie for her efforts in planning the exhibition and preparing the self-exploration workshop. Enjoying the creation process during which they consolidated their thoughts throughout the four-year university life, they experienced the beauty of art.

As an expressive arts therapist-in-training, Winnie undoubtedly believes in the transformative power of art. She finds ‘playful’ arts creation crucial as the creativity unleashed from the process boosts one’s resilience. When facing challenges, creative people could think multiple solutions to tackle the problems encountered. The self-understanding gained from exploration will become sustainable driven force for self-improvement. Winnie remarks that every S.H. Ho student is capable. As long as they can identify their dreams and the goals they are striving for, they will be influential figures in the society.