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Montgomery Student Earns National Art Award for Her Elizabethan-Era Collars

By Jacqueline Lu | Posted April 17, 2023

Yiyang “Lucia” Fei, a talented junior from Montgomery High School, has achieved a tremendous artistic breakthrough with her recent accolades, being named a 2023 finalist in the prestigious YoungArts organization.

Fei’s inspiration actually came from an MHS history class, where she was learning about the Elizabethan Era. “I was deeply drawn to its magnificent fashion and was deeply impressed by the delicacy of the ruffs,” she said, “so I decided to try something new that incorporated the visual effect of the classic costumes from the 1500s into a more modern style.”

Fei's intricately designed collar-style adornment (above) is not merely an artwork inspired by celestial space, but rather a ruff that honors the opulent aesthetic of the Elizabethan Era. Creatively named “Golden Orbit,” it is part of Fei's portfolio titled “Queen’s Ruffs Series.” Other pieces in the collection include: The “Way to the Unknown” and the “Time Storage Station.” See the collection below.

Fei commenced her creative journey in May 2022, embarking on an artistic process that spanned four months. Creating her ruffs wasn’t easy. According to Fei, it was a “continuous learning of materials, a process of trying, and a process of ideological growth. There was curiosity, confusion, failure, surprise, and excitement.”

To bring her artistic vision to life, Fei uses a range of materials including ultraviolet (UV) resin, a versatile liquid-like adhesive that solidifies into various shapes when exposed to UV light. She also uses metal wires, transparent plastic sheets, and paper, skillfully manipulating and combining them to create her unique and captivating pieces.

As simple as these materials are, shaping them into what she aimed to create proved to be quite challenging. For example, for her “Golden Orbit,” she had to “sketch and calculate the folding angle and the proportion to the neck size.”

It took her “dozens of attempts to make paper models with different values on the angle and length” to “find the perfect angle that fits the chin and has an excellent visual effect” and “give off the effect [she] wanted to present.”

The Effect Is Sublime

In a space formed by the arrangement of lines, a series of cubes travel through it like cosmic stars. One of the stars breaks through the orbit, exuding golden light and falling into the mist.

For her “Way to the Unknown,” a ring made out of UV resin and volcanic rocks embedded on them, “it took [her] much thought to think of a way to fix volcanic rocks in the ring so that they look more like stars suspended in a nebula.” Despite the challenges presented to her during the creation of these two pieces, as well as her work titled “Time Storage Station,” Fei exhibited unwavering determination and resourcefulness.

She actively engaged in creative problem-solving, constantly trying to find solutions to overcome obstacles and push the boundaries of her artistic expression. She was determined to “express [her] creativity … in a wearable way.” And she managed to do just that, with her artwork reflecting “an expression of curiosity about the unknown space and future.”

After getting selected as a finalist in YoungArts, she was invited to attend the National YoungArts Week in Miami, Florida. There she was able to “meet and make connections with many amazing artists from various disciplines, including music, dance, film, jazz, photography, theater, visual arts, and design arts,” as well as expand her skill set in the design arts discipline.

“All the resident advisors, guest artists, teachers, panelists, and staff impacted me a lot,” she said, which “made me more mature, helped me realize a lot and know what questions to ask myself when I work on an art project in the future.” At the end of the week, she says she experienced significant growth in her critical thinking, design skills, and ability to collaborate effectively both in a group and as an individual.

YoungArts is a highly rigorous and selective program that nurtures and gives national recognition to the most exceptional artists across a range of disciplines, including performing arts, literary arts, design arts, and many others. Formerly known as the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts (NFAA), YoungArts, is incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization by Ted and Lin Arison, who see the need for a single organization to identify, encourage and award emerging talent in all art forms.

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Fei’s passion for art goes beyond her own creative pursuits. She also generously shared her skill sets to help others improve their own art, showcasing her commitment to artistic growth and her willingness to support and uplift fellow artists.

Last summer, Fei volunteered her time and expertise to teach art to young children at a church in Princeton for a week. The art teacher she was assisting expressed gratitude for Fei's assistance, noting that her contributions were greatly appreciated and made a positive impact.

In addition to that, Fei is an active member of the National Art Honor Society (NAHS), an organization that encourages students to pursue artistic endeavors and engage in community service through art-related activities.

Currently, Fei is self-learning animation and sharpening her art skills. She plans to combine her love of art and technology in her future career, especially in animation and graphics. With her unwavering artistic vision, exceptional talent, and indomitable perseverance, there is no doubt that Fei's artistic aspirations will shine brightly, just like a radiant star in the vast expanse of space.


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