When Kerchuan Soong and her family came to Charlotte from Taiwan six years ago, "I was afraid of everything," she says. Why? She was a mere beginner at English, barely able to understand the people around her. Luckily for her, she had another language at hand.
"I used art as my communication tool," she says. "If I didn't know how to say something, I would draw it instead."
Now that she's a senior at Charlotte Country Day School, Kerchuan is at home with English. But she still expresses herself through art.
"It's a powerful language, because everyone understands it," she says.
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Kerchuan, 19, has been at it for as long as she can remember. When she was small, she entertained herself during breakfast by doodling on the wall of her home. Now that she's more grown-up about it, she creates drawings, paintings and ceramics.
Besides studying art at Country Day, Kerchuan has devoted a summer to it at the N.C. Governor's School. She won a gold key and several other prizes at the Mid-Carolina Region Scholastic Art Awards.
With graduation approaching, she is applying to art schools. She hopes to combine her two languages - art and English - as the author-illustrator of children's books.
"I want to keep that sense of communication in my art," Kerchuan says. Her message will grow out of her own vantage point on the world.
"I'm a mix of two cultures," she says. "Sometimes it bothers me, because I don't know who I am."
"That also shows in my artwork - the struggle of identifying myself. But I'm glad that I'm a mix of two cultures. It makes me special, I think."