Artist Feature: Jerry Shu ’21 Frees Himself through Artistic Expression

D.ZHu/The Phillipian

Jerry Shu’s piece, titled “Dual,” won the 2018 Congressional Art Competition of Massachusetts’ 3rd District.

All Jerry Shu ’21 needed to create a piece of award-winning art was a set of color pencils and a piece of cardboard. Using these tools, Shu conjured the visage of a man screaming in pain on the midnight blue backdrop, etched in with wavering lines. With this art piece, titled “Dual,” Shu won the 2018 Congressional Art Competition of Massachusetts’ 3rd District and earned congratulatory remarks from Congresswoman Niki Tsongas. Shu was also awarded the 2017 Scholastic Art and Writing National Gold Medal for his other work, among other gold keys, silver keys, and honorable mentions.

“I think [winning Scholastic awards] inspired me to keep working on art knowing that there is recognition for it. When I saw all the other artists there, at the convention and at the awards ceremony, I was more inspired than ever seeing all the different ways people express themselves. This really drove me to think about how I could expand my capabilities,” said Shu.

Shu first began taking art classes as a kindergartener. With his mother providing him with a plethora of classes, Shu quickly developed a passion for artistic expression in particular and continues to pursue it at Andover.

“You can do whatever you want in art. No one can say no to what you can do. In other forms like speaking or writing, there is a restriction on the words you can use. With art, I’m able to express myself in other ways.  It’s like showing yourself but not in a way that’s so clear cut, and that’s what I like about it. It’s up for interpretation,” said Shu.

Be it in theme or technique, Shu invokes his artistic freedom in all of his artworks. The most common method by which he exercises his artistic autonomy is by combining unusual materials or connecting drastically different topics.

Shu said, “[I try] to do stuff that’s not expected, putting things together that don’t seem that they connect… You know [that] if you are expressing something, you want [it] to be special. Another thing is shying away from conventional mediums. For instance, I did a project last year where I used construction paper and then on top of it, used colored pencil and it looked nice.”

Art plays an influential role in Shu’s journey in all creative media. Though Shu’s affinity for freedom of expression originated from art, he extends this passion to other mediums, such as writing. He further cites art as a source of improvement for his observation skills.

“I notice things a lot more, in terms of the world around me. It seeps in to other creative aspects, like writing. Just knowing that there’s a freedom to express myself helps me open up more,” said Shu.

At Andover, Shu is expanding on his career in art and trying to inspire a similar passion in his peers. Thus far, Shu has taken a number of art classes, and is currently on the board of the club “Arts for Expression,” where he encourages fellow artists on campus to remain engaged in free artistic expression.

“Well last year I know he took a lot of art classes. Now he is more independent. He is on the board of this club I go to, called Arts for Expression, which meets every Friday, and the members can do as much art as they want, whatever they want,” said Leo Deng ’21, a friend of Shu.

As for the future, Shu added, “I haven’t decided, [but] I’m certainly always going to be interested in [art]. Of course I don’t know where my future is going to take me but I definitely want it to be part of my life. Whether it’s my main path heading forward, or even if it’s just a hobby, it will always be a part of me.”

A.Phillips/The Phillipian

Jerry Shu ’21 is hoping to expand his artistic career by making more 3-D art.