Stacy Tao Uses Artistic Talent to Give to Others
Generosity And Caring Are Major Aspects Of Her Identity
By Mara Soloway
Stacy Tao is appreciative of all she has been blessed with in her life and has for many years been using her creative talents to give to those in need. Because she has been an artist for 12 years, she publish a book that features 72 of her works of art selected from more than 400 choices. She used the book, along with an art exhibit of her and her classmate’s work, to raise money for two organizations. The Stacy Tao Charity Sale and Art Exhibit in September raised $4,000.
The event in Houston was attended by dignitaries from U.S. and China. Houston’s Mayor, Annise Parker, proclaimed it “Stacy Tao Day.” Although this 17-year-old senior at Clements High School is confident about her talents and abilities, her attitude is not one of conceit. “I have this talent and can use it to fulfill my own dream of being an artist and to help others,” she said.
One recipient of the art sale proceeds is the Anhui Association of Texas, a cultural society that promotes social and educational opportunites for newcomers from Anhui province in China. Stacy’s mother, Ning Cheng, is past president. Event funds will go toward efforts to help children in Anhui pursue an education. The other recipient is the Against Malaria Foundation, which Stacy learned about from her Clements Red Cross Club activities. The proceeds given to AMF will go toward anti-malarial nets for children.
Stacy uses her talents for the greater good in other ways, too. She designed the mural and painted faces to raise funds at the International Festival at Clements that benefited Doctors Without Borders. She has spent the last several Thanksgiving Days at the George R. Brown Convention Center with the Clements Red Cross Club helping distribute food, clothes and gifts.
Stacy shares her talents with her classmates them if they ask. She sees “mentor” as too lofty a description of her actions. “I like to think that is what friends do,” she said.
Stacy recently began including computer programming and digital and multimedia to her artistic endeavors. “I see computer science as using creative problem-solving skills,” she said, adding that it must be in her genes — both her parents are programmers.
Stacy’s work is well regarded: She has earned more than 15 awards for her artwork since 2010. Her painting “Southern Heritage” was auctioned at the 2015 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo for $10,000 and she won the Rodeo Art Show Gold Medal. Her dance performances have also won her recognition.
Her life drawings expressively capture form and posture. Her paintings show a mix of themes — nature and beauty and love, landscape, cityscapes. Many have Texas and southern living themes. The reins of saddled horses in a field are held by a young man standing in between them in “Going Home.” The face of the young man in “Daily Prayer” is partly hidden by his hat; he looks down while his horse looks ahead.
“Silk Road” is a self portrait. “This painting draws from the spirit of Chinese folkloric dance that bridges the gap between my western upbringing and Asian roots. Despite having been born and raised in the United States, I have a deep desire to stay connected with my background,” Stacy said.
The Silk Road was the physical and economical connection between the western civilizations and eastern empires — a collision of culture that parallels Stacy’s experience as an American-born Chinese.
“Even so, the smoky atmosphere may be my subliminal uncertainty and fear of losing that connection, which I see happen to my friends as they become less familiar with their own backgrounds.”
Stacy’s digital and multimedia works have more of a visual edge to them, especially “Lifeanddeath” and “Ambivalence.”
She has worked hard, becoming a very good artist through her conscientious efforts and practice. “Through imitation, observation and self-motivation, I have gained control over line, shape, color and value,” she states. She wants to dispel the notion that someone goes into art because it is somehow easier than other pursuits. “Many people underestimate the diligence and motivation needed to become an artist,” she said. Art is definitely work.
Donna Reedy, AP studio art teacher at Clements, sees Stacy as an innovatively creative thinker. “We teach students to fully utilize both sides of the brain at Clements. Stacy is a higher level problem solver and an innovative thinker. She gets this from her math, science, technology, AND ART classes,” she said.
This summer, Stacy had several fulfilling experiences that brought her in contact with respected artists and, just as importantly, introduced them to her. She earned a scholarship from the Houston Rodeo committee to attend a four-week Western Art Academy in July in Kerrville, pursing sculpture and painting; one of her sculptures was purchased by a camp sponsor, and a painting also sold. One of the teachers recommended Stacy for a week of classes in Wyoming sponsored by the Susan Kathleen Black Foundation.
Also this summer, she attended Columbia University’s summer art camp. One of her accomplishments was a seemingly exact recreation of John Singer Sargent’s work, “Fountain.” Artist Miguel Cardenas, who is a visiting critic for the undergraduate visual art majors, was quite impressed. He told Stacy that no one would be able to tell the difference if her work replaced the original in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Among those who have taught and influenced Stacy is the woman who has shown her by example how to be so generous — her mother, who moved to Houston 20+ years ago from Anhui. Stacy has seen her mother’s efforts to help those from Anhui who arrive in the U.S. and also to provide resources to those in need in the province.
Ning is proud that her daughter is so passionate about her pursuits – art, dance and technology. “With a child, the personality is important, not specifically what things they practice. If she is generous and kind and focused, then we the parents have done our job.”
While Stacy has been strongly influenced by her family and teachers, this self-assured and generous teen has also inspired many. Carl Stockman, her middle school art teacher, is one. “Stacy always gave an outstanding effort. I’m very grateful to have been able to get to know Stacy — she truly is a beautiful soul,” he said.
To learn more about this remarkable young woman and see examples of her artwork, visit stacytao.com.