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E.M.I.L.Y. – “Essence, Mystic, Inspiration, Labyrinth and Youth” – was the title used by fifteen-year-old Emily Dao for her solo exhibition at the McMillan Arts Centre in May of this year.

Emily came to the Island from Vietnam in 2019 through the International Student Program and moved to Vancouver this June to join her brother who is studying at Capilano University in North Vancouver.

The progress Emily has made in her art career since then has been remarkable. Shortly after she arrived on the mainland she received an offer from Blue Seas, a small gallery on Granville Island, to display some of her images of Parksville and was commissioned to paint some Vancouver scenes. She was also accepted to participate in Art Downtown Vancouver, an outdoor exhibition organized by the Vancouver Visual Arts Foundation in early September.

In Emily’s words, it was “a new and fun experience. . . I got to meet lots of very talented people and gained many more connections, like artists, creative directors or art founders. I also got some offers from surrounding galleries and commissions. I am getting out there and taking in as much experience and inspiration as I can and meanwhile searching for more opportunities for me to grow. . . These few months in Vancouver have been very memorable, I have learnt so much more, and experiencing various bases from indoor displays to outdoor art fairs. It is quite amazing how I have only been in Vancouver since June and I have aged in mind quite a lot”.

Emily is currently participating in an art project about mental health organized by DARE Arts and she has been chosen as one of ten people for a scholarship in the Art Exchange program between Vancouver Art Gallery and Arts Umbrella which will keep her busy until next summer.

All of this, plus the pressures of settling into a different community and entering Grade 10 in a new school, where she has joined the field hockey team and magazine club.  Emily’s parents’ move from Vietnam was delayed by Covid, but they have now managed to join their children in Vancouver, which will give Emily an opportunity to focus more on her art, not to mention her studies.

With any luck, we’ll be seeing Emily’s latest work in the MAC’s Member Show this December – come and check it out!

You can also see the latest updates on Emilly’s art Instagram at @emilliedecouleurs and more of the art fair at @artdowntownvancouver.

Here is a short video of Emily Dao