PARKWAY Artist Interview: Priscilla Yu

Priscilla Yu is an artist, illustrator, and muralist based in Vancouver. She graduated from Emily Carr University of Art + Design in 2013. Driven by perception and pattern, Yu’s work uses abstracted points of perspective and geometric language to create worlds within her own personal symbology. She often takes inspiration from the way humans utilize cultural motifs in design as well as the universal patterns and geometries found in nature. Her work has been exhibited internationally and she has painted murals in numerous festivals including HK Walls (Hong Kong), Pow! Wow! DC (Washington, DC), and the Vancouver Mural Festival.

Priscilla Yu is one of ten artists we selected to be part of a community plan project by BlueSky Properties in Downtown Surrey called PARKWAY. Their mission is to bring community to life in Surrey, and for us, a focus on art and culture is what leads to a truly vibrant and activated community. With this in mind, we are using their new sales centre to highlight art and artists inspired by life here in BC. The first image below was purchased from Yu for the space. You can read more about the project here.

Art by Priscilla Yu

Booooooom: How would you describe your work to someone who has never seen it?

Priscilla Yu: Colourful dreamscapes in a geometric language.

What is your motivation for making things? Why do you create?

I love the feeling of not knowing and I’m motivated by the idea of being surprised by the work that comes out. I’m definitely motivated by pleasure, an opportunity to explore, and also a way of connecting with people. I think that art is a great filter and lens to live life by.

Art by Priscilla Yu

Can you share a little context or a story about this specific artwork?

‘Protecting a Small and Steady Flame’ is one of the more personal paintings that I’ve done. I often start off my work, meditatively putting down angular lines and layering textures and washes, until images start to form and I lean into the direction that the painting is going. This piece was definitely in that vein.

Eventually, the campfire in the center came, and I imagined a bird entity fanning it and keeping the spark alive (I often use birds as “messengers” in my symbology). Centering everything, I began to see a face and the painting became a self-portrait, reflecting my current state of keeping optimism and creative energy going during a dark time.

"I think that art is a great filter and lens to live life by."

How has living here in BC inspired you?

The nature in BC has definitely inspired me in a big way. I love observing patterns in nature. From rock structures, tidal pools, leaves, tree bark, to the pathways of rivers, there’s a lot of neat patterns to get lost in.

Art by Priscilla Yu
Art by Priscilla Yu

With everything that is happening virtually these days, how important is it for you to still be part of a local arts community?

It’s so important. When you see artwork online and on social media, you don’t really get to hear about the process or the challenges. I love it when the arts community gets together either through a show or annual open studio event (ie. Culture Crawl or when we used to have SWARM), and talk about what we’re working on, and nerd out on materials and art.

Art by Priscilla Yu

What’s one goal you have for this next year?

In the next year, I’d like to launch some soft goods that feature my surface design work. I’ve been dabbling in releasing my own product line for years but I’d like to take a deeper dive in 2022.

What about one thing you’d like to accomplish in your lifetime?

I’d like to learn contentment and to have more experiences in my life where I feel loved and I feel the people around feel loved by me also.

Art by Priscilla Yu

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