Felicia Low is on a quest to make art a part of the community. The performance and installation artist, who was selected for the President’s Young Talent Show in 2009, is pursuing her doctorate in Cultural Studies in Asia at the National University of Singapore (NUS) on the Lee Kong Chian Graduate Scholarship.
She explains, “The mission is not so much to ‘change’ the community but I want art to take on a meaning that is more profound and connected to people and life. Without the Scholarship, I think the opportunity to do a PhD would have been out of reach for me.”
The Lee Kong Chian Graduate Scholarship was established with donations received from the Lee Foundation. It is the University’s most prestigious scholarship for graduate students.
The ex-teacher says, “The Scholarship has allowed me to fully devote myself to understanding the implications of what the arts is, when connected to communities and what it does in society.”
Felicia is an Associate Artist with the independent arts centre, The Substation. She also recently registered a society for Community Cultural Development and is organising a regional symposium for artists to discuss how they work with the community.
Felicia’s social consciousness is evident in the work she does. She was lauded in Parliament for her 40-page report to the Minister for Education on how the arts benefits students who do not fare well in mainstream schools. In one of her installations, she attached backpack straps to rocks to illustrate the plight of primary school students with heavy school bags. Felicia has also performed with her face covered in clay, as an expression of her thoughts of the Speaker’s Corner.
She says, “Communities that work with the arts to create meaning extend the life of the arts into areas and territories unknown. This makes the art created more alive and connected to the present day. From this, social issues can be brought up, discussed, illustrated. The arts can play a more important role in shaping society.”
Aside from performing, Felicia has also held exhibitions such as THE VISIT, which displayed art work done during a workshop by the inmates of Kaki Bukit Prison School. She also held workshops at the women’s shelter, HOME (Humanitarian Organisation for Migrant Economics), where participants could articulate their concerns through video, text, image or performance.
Felicia says, “Not everyone must do art, but the arts can be made available in inaccessible places. Who knows what might turn up? Talents, something to look forward to, confidence, aspirations…change?”