LUMBERTON — Child learning center Exploration Station recently unveiled a mural created by local up-and-coming teen artist Vicky Liu.
The 18-year-old Robeson Community Early College senior spent about a week and a half creating the mural, which is about 7 feet tall and fits the theme of childhood exploration. The mural, titled “Deep Wonder,” shows a child astronaut holding the Earth and floating inside a snow globe with a red button under the sea.
“It makes you think, inspires you, makes you wonder,” Liu said.
Tim Little, fund development director for the Robeson County Partnership for Children, said he first met Liu and learned about her artistic talents through the RCC Early College robotics team, RobCoBots. Little was impressed with the logos she designed and she offered to paint a mural for the Exploration Station. She came up with a concept that Station management liked, Little said.
The center had been going through changes to become more educational, with a focus on science, Little said.
“As we add new exhibits and upgrade our old exhibits, we are moving more towards science,” Little said.
Liu considered a space-themed mural but noticed the center already had a lot of space images in the area.
“I wanted to do something different,” she said
She went in about 8 or 9 a.m. and worked until about 3 or 4 p.m., Liu said. The background of the mural, which Liu considered the most difficult but her favorite part, is an underwater scene with an array of fish looping around the globe, which touches on marine biology. Inside the globe various aspects of science are reflected using images of cells, animals, planets and scientific tools.
“The colors are just incredible, and the way she incorporated different scientific disciplines while still making it a fun picture to look at is really great,” Little said.
It is the first mural Lui has completed.
“It turned out better than what I hoped,” she said. “Everyone likes it.”
Lui has experimented with various types art media throughout her childhood. She recently tried string art.
“I try new things all the time,” she said.
Her training came from a variety of sources: a senior at Lumberton High School who gave Lui art lessons for a couple of weeks, online classes and even Chinese watercolor classes given by cousins. But for the most part, she is self-taught. She learned to look at images and copy what she sees.
“For me, if you just like present an image in front of me, I can draw it,” Liu said.
Some of these images have been characters on shows such as “Game of Thrones” and “Pokemon,” or portraits that she paint here and there for friends.
“I didn’t really take art seriously, like as a career option, until high school,” Liu said. “Before, I would usually just do it because people just asked me to.”
Although art isn’t offered at the RCC Early College, she has found other ways get the experience needed to produce fine art works and build a portfolio, Liu said. She has competed and placed in multiple state competitions, and commissioned artworks.
“Since they don’t have art classes and I want to get more experience and I do like trying new stuff, I’ve joined lots of clubs,” she said.
Liu’s art designs have been featured on 2018 Project Graduation items and she also placed fifth in the Senior Division of the N.C. Department of Transportation’s Division of Aviation’s Aviation Art Contest. She is a founding member of the RCC Early College robotics team, for which she creates logos and shirt designs.
“She’s an amazing young lady. Her skills with the robotics is just as high as her skills with a paint brush,” Little said.
Liu hopes to pursue a career in art. If she stays in North Carolina — a plan her parents support — she will go to N.C. State, but she also is considering Savannah College for Art and Design in Georgia, Liu said.
“I still want to remain an artist on my own time, but careerwise I would like to go into animation, either for advertisement business purposes or for entertainment purposes,” Liu said.
Liu’s mural can be viewed at the Exploration Station, located at 104 N. Chestnut St. in Lumberton.