The Student News Site of Tenafly High School

The Echo

The Student News Site of Tenafly High School

The Echo

The Student News Site of Tenafly High School

The Echo

Senior Zoe Han’s Journey as a Painter

Zoe Han’s portrait of her and her brother as children

If you’ve passed by the art rooms, you’ve probably stopped to admire a particular painting displayed on the bulletin board: a photographic painting of a little girl and a boy drinking from orange cups, curiously staring at the viewers. The artist behind this painting is Zoe Han (’24). Many know Han as the Senior Class Vice President or as the captain of the Girls Varsity Tennis Team. However, she’s also an avid artist who holds a profound love for painting. 

“I really like [painting] and the skill set that comes with it,” Han said. “I think it provides me with a lot of skills that are applicable in other places. It provides me with really good observational, experimental, …and problem-solving skills.”

Zoe Han

Han has been interested in art ever since she can remember. 

“I’ve been drawing, painting, and coloring my entire life pretty much,” she said. However, it was in freshman year that Han realized that she wanted to pursue art. Because her packed schedule didn’t allow her to take an art course in school, she started to go to an art studio to take classes outside of school every week. There, Han was able to improve her technical skills and also find enjoyment in creating artwork. 

“In the [studio], I had creative freedom to do whatever I wanted,” Han said. “I had a teacher who would guide me in the right direction, or give me tips and teach me different techniques along the way.” 

Han’s painting of her great-grandmother

After discovering the joy that comes with expressing herself on a canvas, Han signed up for the Art Portfolio Honors course in her junior year to expand her art experience to an academic level. There, Han was able to explore different mediums such as charcoal, pencil, acrylics, and oil paint. This year, she is part of the AP Art course, where she incorporates the theme of family and memories in her paintings. 

“My sustained investigation for my AP Art portfolio is of things that are important to me: my family, my culture, my childhood, [and] my heritage,” Han said. She especially tried to incorporate these themes in the two paintings that she finished for her summer assignment in AP Art: a painting of her great-grandmother in Hanbok, a Korean traditional attire, and a painting of Han and her brother as children. Both of these paints are currently on display in the hallway across from the art classrooms.

Despite incorporating specific messages into her paintings, Han leaves all interpretations up to the viewers. “I don’t necessarily need [my painting] to evoke a certain emotion from people,” Han said. “It was never for other people. It’s for my own enjoyment, usually. People can interpret it in whatever way they want. I don’t think there’s a certain set way you have to [look at it].”

Moreover, even though it was the photographic style of these paintings that caught the attention of the THS community, she doesn’t consider realism to be a fixed art style of hers. 

“I feel like [my style’s] always changing and developing,” Han said. “Right now, it’s more realistic because that’s what I was taught.”

As of now, Han’s goal remains to improve her visual imagination. “Without a picture, I can’t fabricate things in my head,” she said. “So that’s definitely a skill I need to work on. I hope to improve and create things with my own free will instead of being tied down to a picture.”

According to Han, her pursuit of painting will not end even after graduating from THS. “I have a portfolio that I’m submitting with my college application,” Han said. “I am applying to a few schools intended as maybe a double major, with art being one of those, or possibly pursuing it as a minor.” Even if she turns out to not focus her studies on art, Han still plans to take art classes at her future school and continue her life as an artist. 

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About the Contributor
Heeseo Yoon
Heeseo Yoon, Junior Editor
Heeseo Yoon ('25), Echo's Junior Editor, enjoys writing about world affairs and creating cartoons.