Joni Cheung is a second year student who is on her to way to acquiring a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Simon Fraser University, with a major in visual arts. Why should you get to know Joni Cheung? Well, the girl is cool. While only being nineteen-years-old, Joni Cheung has contributed to various public artworks in Vancouver; she is a member of an art collaborative group called The Graey; and she has really nice hair. I got a chance to have a quick Q&A with Joni Cheung to find out more about her public artwork and generally about why she is so cool.
How is the art that you make at SFU different from the art that you make with groups such as The Graey?
I would say the big difference is that the projects I do with The Graey are more collaboration-focused. Constantly trying to find new ideas and projects that we’re all interested in is the most difficult thing, along with everyone’s different and “cray cray” schedules. The projects I make at SFU are more "me"-focused. The studio gives me space to look at what I’m interested in. It also provides me with theoretical and technical resources - bless profs and Andrew [the “Department Resource Specialist” for the SFU Alexander studio] - and also keeps me inspired and motivated to learn when I see other people’s ideas and projects.
How do you feel about the word "artist"?
I think it’s pretty cool. I like the fact that being an artist doesn’t limit you to one particular process [or] method. Like I get to be a “jack of all trades”… depending on what my project is, I could learn and use the methods of a scientist or accountant or whatever the hell I want and apply it to my projects…I get to do something different every day.
Does the deadline for an art piece stress you out more or less than a midterm exam?
I wouldn’t say it stresses me out more or less...it’s when I have crits [art critiques involving the entire class on each individual student’s artwork] and written midterms and everything else all squished into one week and they all have the same deadlines…that’s what stresses me out.
Any tips for those just starting school on dealing with this stress?
[Capitalization is necessary] USE YOUR TIME WISELY. DON’T PROCRASTINATE. WRITE ALL YOUR DEADLINES FOR ALL YOUR COURSES OUT ON THOSE LARGE DESK CALENDARS SO YOU CAN HAVE AN OVERVIEW OF EVERYTHING AT ALL TIMES SO YOU CAN PLAN AHEAD CAUSE [stuff] HAPPENS, MAN.
If you could go back in time and steal the idea of one artwork so that you could create that artwork yourself, which would it be?
There are too many! But, honestly, I wouldn’t really want to steal an artwork, because who would educate me about it so that it could inspire something in my future works?
Choose three words to describe this semester so far.
Uphill battle (or intense/GO-GO-GO), fun, and enlightening.
Choose three words to describe yourself.
Open-minded/easygoing/flexible, constantly confused + bad hearing + disoriented + uncoordinated, tactile/kinesthetic (I like textures, but also colours and forms: I like things), weird. I can’t use rulers. I don’t know, Taylor, what three words come to mind for you?!
Choose three words to describe your future.
Hopefully successful/rich from art-related things, happy, travels, good foods. [Joni clearly dislikes the number three.]
What has been your favourite public artwork that you've created or collaborated on?
I think my favourite public artwork I’ve done so far was a yarn-bombing piece we did at the Hasting’s Urban Farm, across from the Save-On-Meats with the Satellite Gallery Guerilla Knitters (which unfortunately is no longer). It was a super simple project where I got to learn how to knit, meet new people and make connections, find new opportunities and create a project that made people stop and hopefully smile.
Public artworks can seem like they appear by the work of magical elves at night. Joni Cheung is one of those magical elves. The image below is of Joni’s collaborative artwork that she created with the Guerrilla Knitters group. Works like this make Joni Cheung an “artist to watch” as she will inevitably continue to influence the art world and society in general through her artistic practice and through her overall coolness.