Like a lot of kids, Rebecca Wu has been doodling for quite some time. Her dad said she first started making art as a toddler, when she was able to hold a colored pencil and scribble on the walls at home.
Rebecca’s artwork has come a long way and will be seen by a lot more people when it’s featured on the Google homepage starting Monday at 9 p.m. PT.
The 12-year-old sixth grader at the International School in Bellevue, Wash., is the winner of the “Doodle for Google” contest, beating out tens of thousands of entrants in the 15th annual event. Along with the featured spot on the search giant’s homepage, Rebecca also wins a $30,000 college scholarship and a $50,000 technology grant for her school.
“It’s really cool. It’s kind of unbelievable because it’s such a big thing,” Rebecca told GeekWire during a call from New York City, where she had just appeared on the “TODAY” show. “I think it’s just really nice.”
Rebecca was the Washington state representative among works from 55 U.S. state and territory K-12 winners who submitted art under the theme “I am grateful for … .” Her piece titled “My Sweetest Memories” was featured in the grade 6-7 category. Last week she reached the final five before being crowned the ultimate winner by judges on Monday.
The artwork depicts Rebecca with her two sisters, Anna, 6, and Esther, 4, sipping hot chocolate in a garden where vines and flowers spell out the word Google. She described it like so:
My Sweetest Memories
Sometimes I love them, and sometimes I dislike them very much, but I can’t imagine my life without my sisters. I have learned to be a little bit more patient with them, and they have had an enormous impact on me. We help to inspire each other and to help each other grow like the vines and flowers in my picture. I am never lonely with them, and they can cheer me up. I am grateful for them and all that they have done for me. In this drawing, we are having a fun time drinking hot chocolate, which is one of my fondest memories. The rainbow in the background symbolizes one the first things I helped one of my sisters draw. In one of my family pictures, my sisters (sitting next to me) and I (the one in the middle) are sitting in flowers with a background that I drew, so I thought it would be fun to reference that by drawing us sitting flowers here. The word “Google” is related with the stems of flowers and vines, also following the flower/garden theme. My drawing is composed of all our happiest memories to show just how grateful I am for them.
Rebecca created the work on her iPad using the program Procreate. She calls art her favorite pastime, along with some of the computer coding she does where she makes video games. A website she created in the fourth grade features her earliest artwork, stop-motion movies, photography, writing and more.
Even though she just won a lot of money toward her future education, Rebecca doesn’t know yet what she wants to study or do in life.
Rebecca’s father Qiang Wu said his daughter has been working with director Sunyoung Kwon at Bellevue’s Studios Fine Arts since the age of 7. He called the teaching instrumental in Rebecca’s arts education, and the contest win validation for Rebecca’s talents.
“The journey of her art is genuine and comes from her heart,” Wu told GeekWire. “That’s the part we are really most proud of.”
Rebecca’s school held a special assembly when she was announced as the Washington state winner, and her father said all the kids gave her a standing ovation. Wu said being part of a community is very important to Rebecca.
An MIT graduate, Wu is a software engineer who spent 16 years at Microsoft. He spent another seven years at Alibaba, and has now moved on to start his own company.
“I’m a techie guy,” he said, but he added that he and Rebecca’s mom, Jiayuan Huang, would be completely OK if their daughter chose art over tech.
“Especially nowadays with disruptive AI technology, nobody knows what the future is going to hold,” Wu said. “The only advice I can give her is just be herself, let her inner voice guide her. Just like her art.”
When his daughter’s artwork appears on the internet in front of millions of viewers later tonight and tomorrow, Wu knows what he’ll be doing.
“I’m going to do all kinds of Googling … and take pictures,” he laughed. “It’s just so surreal.”
Source: Geek Wire
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