After working for some years as a graphic designer in Singapore, Meei-Ling Ng sought to further expand her knowledge of art and move to the city of Philadelphia.
Ng said aside from her creativity needing a boost, she also needed a different environment and structure. She attended the Art Institute of Philadelphia, majoring in Specialized Technology in 2D and 3D animation.
“A decade or so back, the art scene in Singapore was not thriving,” Ng said. “Artists were having trouble supporting themselves and many went overseas. There were few spaces for the arts, let alone spaces for the more experimental arts.”
Early in her life, Ng lived in a village setting very close to nature. The surrounding natural environment inspired her, yet she had a strong drive to create images of the things she had lost.
“It ranged from simple things like losing my farm animal friends to the stew pot, to having our village confiscated for a military base,” she said. “As a child, art was my way of dealing with loss. Loss still plays a role in my inspiration. The losses in the natural world — loss of wildlife habitat, community, humanity, species extinction, climate change, all these issues make me want to create art to raise awareness.”
Ng remembers how she loved to visit the “Substation,” an old power station in Singapore that had been left vacant and was later redeveloped as an art gallery. Visual art was exhibited at the gallery, and there was an outdoor garden for live performance art
“On some weekends, the garden was open to the public for fine art and craft fairs,” Ng said. “I was one of the participating artists selling my handcrafted designer jewelry there. Back then, the Substation served as an incubator for much of the art scene all over Singapore. Now the Substation has become Singapore’s first independent contemporary arts center.”
According to Ng, “Singapore has picked up with foreign investment and just more interest from Singaporeans in their local art.”
Ng has been creating graphic design and paintings for a long time, she said. Though eventually she felt that there was something missing in what she was doing, especially for the visual arts.
She felt that there must be a way to expand her skills and talents beyond painting. “I was thinking that I am very good with my hands and my skill-set can help me be more expressive with sculptures and installations, something three dimensional,” she said.