I used to work as a dentist in Singapore for 20 years and then I moved to America with my family.
I was very busy with the family and was a housewife looking after my three kids. When my autistic son was 12, he attended middle school. When I went to see the school environment, I wasn’t happy with their philosophy, and I thought I will start home schooling.
How I Picked Up Clay
I needed an outlet to destress, and I took a 3D clay class in the Community Center. I think clay is very tactile, so that’s what suits me. I wasn’t really planning to sell my work anywhere.
After 10 years of playing with clay, somebody encouraged me to sell my work. I also started teaching special needs students. The art school that I’m teaching at, they had a fundraiser and I started making some bowls which were well-received and popular, which was surprising because I don’t have an art background.
One of my artist friends recommended a gallery and so I started showing my artworks. I showcased my works at a show in Georgia and I got a lot of good reviews that led me to showcasing in more galleries.
Inspirations for me is generally just from my daily life; whatever that I see, whatever that I feel, whatever that I read, it just become ideas. My style is very casual and not traditional. When I threw clay on the wheel, everything is centered and mild, perfectly symmetrical and that bores me so much.
(Perfection) is not my style so I started like pinching and making my clay off-centre, to be more interesting. I think we have to try to find humour in everything that we have.
Developing the Sculpture “Life of an Autism Mum”
When family told me to do a piece like “Life of an Autism Mum”, there’s so much to say. Once I read an article about being a mum of an autistic child, and it said that we mums are like soldiers in the combat field, that’s why I added the army uniform. We are constantly having to solve problems, one after another.
I also tried to put something nice; like our kids, if they show you love, they give you the purest love in the world. In my special needs class, the kids don’t judge; whatever they say is pure and true. That’s the biggest joy I’ve ever gotten.
I put skates because we always have to spin around. We’re not walking slowly, but we’re spinning around with so many things to deal with, and we don’t have time to make ourselves beautiful.
Words of Encouragement to Parents
As parents, the most important thing is that we really have to take care of ourselves first. That’s the first priority – you have to give time to yourself no matter what.
We have to be selfish; we need to take care of ourselves to be happy and healthy, then we can think of taking care of others. Find something that you are passionate and just do it.
To learn more about how CaringSG supports special needs caregivers, we invite you to visit CaringSG’s Giving.sg donation page and make a donation to support these caregivers too.