In a small but vibrant school in Fairless Hills, Bucks County, a new art form is being born. Graduating senior SolMon Lim, one of the more than 30 international students at Conwell-Egan Catholic High School, is unleashing a new breed of creative art and design.
Dabbling in numerous styles and media including Styrofoam and cardboard pieces since his sophomore year in 2011, Lim dedicated his free time to experimenting with the expression of his thoughts and interpretations through fine art.
Not favoring the classical style, Lim has created a new way of putting together some lively paintings, modern arrangements and drawings. But his most recent endeavor is what has the whole school watching: the Tree Man.
According to Lim’s art teacher, JoAnne Gari, a tree had been cut down in Lim’s uncle’s yard, and her student “had this idea to dig up the roots and make something. He got all these tools, glue sticks, shovels, and such, and started making the Man,” she said.
“This last September,” Gari said, “he asked me if he could start putting the sculpture in the storage room next door (to the classroom). I told him he could, and he started bringing up all these huge pieces using a hand cart and carefully putting the figure of the Man together.”
Over time, the Tree Man has been formed with tremendous detail in the face, the rib cage and fingers; and there is still more to come. Lim spent so much time in the storage room working on the Tree Man and other pieces that the faculty started calling it his “Art Cave.”
Recently out of the Art Cave came one of the main paintings displayed in the art show in the school lobby: “The Face.” The painting is not a typical shape or expression of a human face, but it showcases Lim’s fresh and unique take on expression. “It is his interpretation of the spirit,” Gari said.
“SolMon is so quick, has a great sense of humor, and he’s so curious,” Gari said. “He always carries a book with him and he wants to know everything: words, phrases, concepts. He is relentless with you until he is satisfied…. One of the words that took a while to explain to him was ‘shenanigans.’”
Lim began the Tree Man project with the intent of giving new life to the tree after it had been cut down. Talk about a new way to recycle — and what better place to renew life than in the heart of a school where the whole purpose of education is to foster God-given talents.
Lim’s contemporary art and motivation is the purpose of his college pursuits. He already has his eye on several prominent art schools in the country, but wherever he goes, he is sure to make his mark.
Marimah Branch is a freelance writer in North Wales.