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The Burlingame B

The Student News Site of Burlingame High School

The Burlingame B

The Student News Site of Burlingame High School

The Burlingame B

Cheng receives national recognition for art

One+of+the+workshops+that+the+design+winners+attended+was+about+inclusive+fashion+design.+The+designers+were+challenged+to+pad+out+dress+forms+to+a+size+16W.+
Photo Courtesy of Lauren Cheng
One of the workshops that the design winners attended was about inclusive fashion design. The designers were challenged to pad out dress forms to a size 16W.

Senior Lauren Cheng’s winter break was an extra week long — but for good reason. She spent the second week of January in Miami at National YoungArts Week, an exclusive program for YoungArts award winners. Cheng was invited after winning a YoungArts award with distinction in design and learned two weeks later that she was also one of just sixty applicants nationwide to receive a nomination as a Presidential Scholar of the Arts. 

“I went to National YoungArts week and made a ton of connections with the most talented designers and other types of artists [my] age,” Cheng said. “I also got to meet a bunch of panelists and guest artists that are leaders in their profession, and make a bunch of connections with adults as well.”

The YoungArts program was founded in 1981 and is dedicated to honing the talents of exceptional young artists. YoungArts reports on its website that it receives thousands of applicants between the ages of 15 and 18 annually for their awards. Artists that won an award with distinction were invited to Miami for YoungArts week. The program provides mentorship and financial grants to all winners of their awards as well as important connections that serve as a crucial stepping stone in artists’ careers.

“I think [these connections] will allow me to get more opportunities in the future because they have those connections to people who have more connections,” Cheng said.

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At YoungArts week, successful artists mentored award winners. For winners in design like Lauren, they learned about other aspects of design such as architecture or fashion. Each day the 151 winners with distinction worked long hours, and completed challenges in what they had worked on that day, or would learn more from a different guest artist. 

“I would say the most growth is just letting go of a little bit of perfectionism,” Cheng said. “Because the challenges were timed, I really had to think quick… You try to cut some steps out of your process in order to be most efficient. So I feel like that is something I can add to my practice now. “

Cheng was recognized for designs that related to social justice, a common theme in her work. One design was a poster that showcased the controversial topic of gun violence, while the other was a voting sticker designed for the city of Burlingame.

“My thought process going into the pieces was with the perspective of social justice in mind. Both issues, like the threat to democracy and mass shootings, are really big issues in our country,” Cheng said. “And so my way of coping with those issues is to make designs that make those complex issues aesthetically simplified, so that people are reminded and understand.” 

YoungArts has supported the careers of many successful artists, such as Viola Davis, Timothée Chalamet, and Amanda Gorman. Cheng’s goal is to continue in the arts and pursue it into the future. 

“My goal in the future is to create my own studio, but also work for larger companies,” Cheng said.  “And then in the next decade or so, maybe I’ll be able to design for a political campaign, like create the graphics, create logos, etc.”

This isn’t the first recognition Cheng has garnered for her work. As a sophomore in the architecture program at Burlingame, Cheng won an award from the Architectural Foundation of San Francisco for her design “Pebble Center.” Architecture teacher Anna Liu expressed no surprise at Cheng’s success in design after seeing her talent up close. 

“Lauren is an incredibly talented, passionate artist who is always trying to innovate and do new things. And as I said, [she] really [brings] her commitment to equity into her artwork,” Liu said.  

For Cheng, the week was both a celebration and an inspiration. 

“I think that it feels really validating to get the award but also feels very empowering to be in an environment with people who are so passionate about their craft,” Cheng said.

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Josie Wettan, Staff Reporter
Josie Wettan is a freshman at BHS and a first year journalism student. Outside of school she enjoys spending time with her sisters and friends, listening to music, and reading. She is excited to write about things that interest her and become involved in the BHS community.
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