By: Diotima Roy
Like many of us, Dan-Anh Hoang loved watching cartoons and reading comic books as a young girl. Her passion for art stemmed from reimagining the characters she read about in different scenarios. But by the end of middle school, Hoang was very fed up with how female characters in comics were portrayed as weak or static. Determined to do something about it, she practiced drawing so that she could write her own comics with strong female leads.
During her freshman year Hoang joined Manga Club. Inspired by upperclassmen who were taking AP Art and encouraged by Mr. Patel (the former Manga Club advisor and North art teacher who had seen her sketchbook), Hoang signed up for art class. She met North art teacher Sandy Bonasera her sophomore year, who would go on to shape her artistic pursuits. “Ms. Bonasera fosters a very safe environment for creating art and that’s really important to the creative process. In her classes I have never felt like I had to censor my work or push myself in ways that I didn’t want to,” said Hoang.
To Hoang, art isn’t just the paintings and statues in a museum, it is everything that has been created or designed; including landscapes, architecture, and even advertisements. She draws inspiration from the world around her—it could be from a thought-provoking line she read in a magazine, an interesting person she saw on the street, or even a weird phrase she overheard. And why does Hoang think art is important? “Art creates a fantasy. Art teaches you to admire beauty and shows you what the world can be in place of what it really is,” she said. Her thoughtfulness and conceptuality are beyond her years. According to Ms. Bonasera, “Dan-Anh’s maturity, combined with her dedicated work ethic, commitment to art and unmatchable technical skills allows her work to take on a deeper and more meaningful presence.”
When not creating art or doing schoolwork, Hoang participates in North’s Literary Magazine, Girls Learn International club and Gay-Straight Alliance club. Hoang’s commitment to individual expression, equality, and social change is visible not only in her extracurricular pursuits, but also her artwork—her AP Art concentration explores societal perceptions of women. Senior Siddharth Thuppil, a fellow artist, described how he has seen Hoang’s art evolve. “Over the years, I have seen [Hoang] input her ideas, beliefs, and personality into her work and this has helped her grow into a skillful and conceptual artist,” he said.
To younger artists, Hoang’s advice is to practice. “There is no shortcut. I think art is one industry where practice can outwork talent,” she said. However, just working on technical skills is not enough. Having creative vision is important in order to be able to create art that moves people, and is something that Dan-Anh Hoang clearly possesses.