Rivers Liu (12) receives $10,000 Jeffrey Ahn Arts Grant


Nishtha Sharma, Staff Writer

Rivers Liu (12) received a $10,000 grant from the Jeffrey Ahn, Jr. Fellowship to pursue an independent art project this summer.

The grant is open to high school students nationwide and is rewarded to one each year. According to the fellowship’s website, the Jeffrey Ahn, Jr. Fellowship calls upon young artists from any background to “submit proposals for the independent creation of artworks.”

Liu chose to apply earlier this year after art teacher Kim Do sent an email to several students informing them of the scholarship, they said.

“I just applied because I thought, ‘why not?’ which is why I was so shocked when I received it,” Liu said.

The application included an artist statement, budget proposal, portfolio, and two teacher recommendations, they said. Liu received recommendations from Do and theater and arts teacher Alexis Dahl, who is also their Independent Study adviser.

“The production process of making art…isn’t quite the same thing as the artistic process,” Dahl said. “The production side entails permissions, reserving space, [and] considering rules and regulations.”

Liu enjoys being a “spontaneous artist,” so logistical planning and budgeting for their future projects was a little frustrating, they said.

“I’m not an artist who likes to get ahead, which is why I was so surprised that they accepted my proposal and budget,” Liu said. “I’m really glad they trusted me and my ability.”

Liu hopes the grant will allow them more access to high quality materials, so they can create “bigger fleshed out art” than what they are making right now, Liu said.

“I don’t have that many credentials, and I was stressing out over doing something over the summer, and along came this email informing me I received the grant, so I’m really happy,” they said.

“In the past year, Rivers has definitely become more sensitive to what needs to be planned when making art within an institution,” Dahl said

Many of Rivers’ friends notice that their interest and involvement in art has magnified throughout high school. Lisa Shi (12) recalled that she has seen Liu start to pursue what they actually want to do and who they want to be through their art, she said.

“This year, they’re really only ever in the studio working on their art, and with the additional dedication and effort, I think they’ve produced so much incredible work. I’m so happy they’ve won this grant and they 100% deserve it,” she said.

“Within the past two years, I’ve noticed that Rivers has diversified their art a lot,” Ben Parker (12) said. “They’ve gotten more into multimedia and performance art, as opposed to two-dimensional drawing and painting,” he said.

Art is also a prominent part of Rivers’ personality, and greatly helps their general mood, he said.

“I can tell how much Rivers loves everything about art, from its history to their own work to that of other artists,” Shi said.

Do has watched Liu’s work evolve from encompassing more traditional and typical realism, to more experimental and expressive art, he said.

“Rivers is constantly evolving as a person and an artist,” he said. “They definitely stand out for being so prolific, and it’s wonderful to see endless creativity happening in such a powerful way.”