Y STARS holds biggest art exhibition to date

Held from 16 – 18 December 2017, the 24-strong arts group, which is made up of young adults with intellectual disabilities, put about 150 of their selected artworks on display at Arts on Emily Hill.


Y STARS member Qiao Qi alongside her painting. (Photo: Han Wei Chou)

Over 150 artworks were displayed over the course of the exhibition, along with a collection of specially painted ceramic bears, bookmarks and postcards.

The artworks were carefully selected from the many pieces produced by the 24 Y STARS members, who have intellectual disabilities, over the course of the year. They meet almost every Saturday for art classes held at YMCA.

 “I sold one today!” said Y STARS member Qiao Qi, adding that she was “very happy” to see her artwork on display.


About 150 artworks were on display at the Y STARS art exhibition. (Photo: Han Wei Chou)

The exhibition was the result of months of preparation work by the Y STARS volunteer art teachers, as well as YMCA befrienders and staff.

“We took leave, took off, called in favours to make all this happen. It is physically draining, and quite mentally tiring, but when you see everything on the wall and how happy they (the Y STARS members) are, and how happy their parents are, it all pays off!” said volunteer art teacher Wendy Zhang, who described sales from the art exhibition as being “very encouraging”.


Wendy Zhang (left) and fellow Y STARS volunteer art teacher Lun Weishi (right). (Photo: Han Wei Chou)

The 24-year-old, who works as an Exhibition Coordinator, said that the most rewarding aspect of instructing the Y STARS members was watching them grow over the course of their sessions together.

“We have one student called Yan. He used to come to class and fall asleep. He needed to be handheld. But recently, he started to do dots on paper, and choose what colour he wants. More recently, he actually completed a whole painting by himself!”

“When we saw that moment, Weishi (another volunteer art teacher) and I and all the volunteers were very, very emotional, very touched because we saw his progress. And when we told his mum, she was also very happy.”

Regina Aun, the founder of the Y STARS and mother of a Y STARS member, said she was thoroughly impressed by how well-organised the exhibition was.

“This is the first exhibition I am totally hands off. I am very impressed!  I totally left it to the two teachers and the volunteers. Everything was done by them, the YMCA staff and volunteers,” said Aun.


Y STARS founder Regina Aun hopes the art exhibition can serve as an inspiration for others. (Photo: Han Wei Chou)

Aun hopes that the exhibition will encourage the Y STARS members’ parents to continue bringing them to Y STARS sessions by showing them how much good these sessions do. She also hopes that the exhibition can inspire more people to become volunteer art teachers, and change how the community views people with intellectual disabilities.

“When we look at people with challenges, we shouldn’t always look at their inabilities, all the ‘cannot, cannot, cannot’,” said Aun. “We should think of what they ‘can’ do. Look at what they ‘can’ do, and not what they ‘cannot’.”

Do your bit for the Y STARS. Donate or become a volunteer with the YMCA. Find out more on https://yhub.ymca.org.sg/. See more Y Stars activities and artworks on their Instagram account @ystars.sg.

This article is contributed by Han Weichou