about

WHO

MaryAnn Loo (also sometimes known as PenguinGirl)

WHAT

Visual Artist (Murals, Paintings, Illustrations)

Voice Coach & Singing Instructor

Creative Coach & Instructor

WHEN

Artist since 2013

Coaching since 2015

WHERE

Singapore mostly when I’m not painting Dream Tree murals elsewhere

HOW

With the encouragement and support of clients, patrons and friends like you!

WHY

Hmmm… this part will take more than a few sentences to answer, so read on to find out 🙂

 

I’m MaryAnn Loo, born 1983 in Singapore, and pretty much spent all my life in this developed, modern, and clean city-state-country-island place. My Singaporean chinese parents grew up in the 50’s and 60’s, during a time where growth and progress of this newly independent nation (since 1965) was all around them, and they learnt English in their late teens. They speak to each other in Mandarin, and they speak to me in English, and when they want to say something they don’t want my siblings and me to understand, they speak in Cantonese, and we don’t find it strange at all.

When I was really young, drawing was my way of expressing myself, and since the age of 8 I wanted to be an artist. My parents (who grew up in a Singapore that was all about economic development, and they really meant well for me) told me that artists don’t make money, and I should pursue something else more practical instead. Back then I had a thing where I needed to be a good girl (still do, sometimes), and I listened to them, and I completely forgot about my childhood artist dream.

But the need to creatively express myself persisted, and emerged in the form of writing stories when I was 11, which turned into songwriting when I was 15, and in my early twenties (while completing my BA in Psychology at the National University of Singapore), I also explored creativity as a TV/film/stage artiste and production design assistant. In 2008 I pursued my second BA (Songwriting and Music Business at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee), believing I was to be a singer/songwriter… until my final semester when I enrolled in “Introduction to Drawing”.

While working on a tough drawing assignment, I randomly recalled that 8-year-old moment when I said I wanted to be an artist, and this awakened the artist dream I had forgotten for 20 years.

After graduation, I lived a year in Brooklyn, New York, and struggled with several media to express my ideas through art. I felt completely uncertain about myself as an artist, and returned to Singapore in June 2012 feeling extremely lost. Later that year, I enrolled in a life-coaching program that allowed me to reconnect to my creative side, and regain the ability to express myself authentically.

With the support of a life coach, I organized and curated my first solo exhibition within 2 months, a feat that included creating 30 new paintings and raising US$2,000 to cover the event costs – with no formal training in art or prior experience in managing events.

While painting for this exhibition, these 30 paintings told the stories of penguins who wanted to live in the sky, and found ways to get themselves there and finally learn to fly, even though in reality they are not birds of flight. Thus I saw that these Dreamer Penguins represent all of us, because like them we have the potential to fly too (i.e. live our best life and make our dreams come true), and we have forgotten how to do it.

Over the week-long exhibition in February 2013, 17 paintings were sold, and I was also commissioned to illustrate a series of 3 children’s books. I was also interviewed on the local news and in an article by Reuters about young Singaporeans pursuing their passion. It was so surreal that just two months earlier I was struggling with my identity and uncertainty of myself as an artist, and now I had sold paintings, and would soon become a published children’s book illustrator. And it didn’t stop there…

In 2014 I organized and curated my first group exhibition, where seven aspiring artists showcased their works for the first time.

 

I also began my training as a life coach with Executive Coach International in Singapore.

In 2015 I designed and painted my first mural, and was also commissioned for the “Studio of Wonders” installation as part of the Noise Singapore Arts Festival.

Commission: Russkiy Dome mural, Feb 2015

To my surprise, I was also contacted by Kidari Gallery in Daegu, South Korea, to represent my paintings at their art gallery and at local art fairs.

 

In 2016, I was one of 3 artists who was commissioned to create designs for the 2016 Special Edition National Day EZ-Link cards (Singapore’s public transport fare cards).

I also started teaching workshops for adults to reconnect to their creative side once again, through activities such as doodling and creative support groups.

In 2017, I painted my first public piano as part of Play It Forward Singapore.

In 2018 I attended my first artist residency in Spain, during which I painted my first mural outside of Singapore.

No. 1: “The Riba-roja Dream Tree” (2018)

It was another surreal moment for me as another big dream of mine is to travel and experience life in different places around the world, while being a traditional media visual artist.

A few months later this dream of becoming a traveling artist inspired “Project: 100 Dream Trees”, my long-term project to paint 100 Dream Tree murals with different communities around the world. (I get to travel, I get to make art, and I don’t have to lug canvasses around with me!)

For six months in 2019, I installed seven Dream Tree murals in five countries: Singapore, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, and Macedonia.

No. 2: “The Keong Saik Dream Tree” (2019), Keong Saik Rd, Singapore

 

No. 6: “The Sofia Dream Tree” (2019), Sofia, Bulgaria

 

No. 5: “The Užupis Dream Tree” (2019), Vilnius, Lithuania

As an artist, I stand for realizing my dreams, pursuing my passion, and cultivating freedom in creative self-expression. And not only do I want this for myself and my art, I believe this is something everyone in the world can have too, if they believed in their dreams and themselves again, and take action to manifest their inspiration and ideas into reality.

Thus I’ve trained as a life coach, as a leader, and most recently in 2018 as a voice coach and singing instructor (returning to my love for singing once again!).

I believe that as long as you have a desire to create something, you are a creator, and I stand for empowering you in unfolding your creative journey, whether it’s merely to express your artistic side, or to develop your career as an artistic professional.

 

ARTIST CV

SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS

2016  Dreaming Penguins, Kidari Gallery, Daegu, South Korea

2016  Dream Party in PenguinLand, Capitol Piazza, Singapore

2015  Visual Voices 2 Artist Showcase, ARIA Arts Café, Singapore

2013  Dream From the Heart, Artistry, Singapore

 

SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS

2019  De/Constructing Perspectives, Structura Gallery; Sofia, Bulgaria

2019  Utterly Women, Utterly Art Gallery; Singapore

2019  Singapore World Water Day, Orchard Road; Singapore

2018  Faber-Castell Art Festival 2018, Marina Square (Singapore)

2017  Affordable Art Fair (with Utterly Art), F1 Pit Building, Singapore

2017  Duo Exhibition: Two Worlds, and the Spaces Between, Utterly Art (Singapore)

2017  Gyeongnam International Art Fair, Kidari Gallery, Changwon Exhibition Convention Centre (Gyeongnam, South Korea)

2017  Kidari Contemporary Art Show, Great White Gallery (Daegu, South Korea)

2017  Art Apart Fair (with Utterly Art), Pan Pacific Orchard Hotel, Singapore

2016  Affordable Art Fair (with Utterly Art), F1 Pit Building, Singapore

2016  Affordable Art Fair (with Kidari Gallery), Dongdaemun Design Plaza, Seoul, South Korea

2016  Seven Deadly SINs by Band of Doodlers, Capitol Piazza, Singapore

2016  Passage, SPRMRKT, Singapore

2016  Artists Anonymous: Creative Self-Help, That Spare Room, Singapore

2016  Affordable Art Fair Let Art Speak Charity Feature Wall, F1 Pit Building, Singapore

2015  Daegu Art Fair (with Kidari Gallery), Daegu, South Korea

2015  Noise Festival 2015 Open Category Exhibition, ION Orchard, Singapore

2015  Kidari Mini Open Collection Exhibition, Kidari Gallery, Daegu, South Korea

2014  Bricks and Clouds, Claire Loves Gallery, Singapore

 

SELECTED REVIEWS & INTERVIEWS

2019  Interview about “The Sofia Dream Tree” mural, Bulgarian National TV, Stella Radeva

2018  Interview about my participation in Riu d’Art Residency, TV3 (Catalonia, Spain)

2018  Interview about artesan market during Riu d’Art Residency, Canal Terres de l’Ebre (My segments can be found at 02:50, 05:38 and 07:25)

2018  In Only Two Months, This Artist Managed To Hold Her Very First Exhibition, YP SG, Eudora Chuah

2017  Artist Profile: Mary Ann Loo, Art Business Institute

2016  Zooming in on Creativity, Youth SG, Anna Fernandez

2013  Youth turning their backs on “Singapore dream”, Reuters, Eveline Danubrata

2013  Interview about crowdfunding for my first solo exhibition, Singapore Channel 8 News

 

SELECTED AWARDS, GRANTS & RESIDENCIES

2019  Brashnar Creative Project, Skopje, Macedonia

2019  The Old School Residency, Gorna Lipnitsa, Bulgaria

2019  World of Co Artist Residency, Sofia, Bulgaria

2019  Kintai Arts Residence, Kintai, Lithuania

2019  Rucka Residency, Cēsis, Latvia

2019  Arts Fund Grant, National Arts Council, Singapore

2018  Riu d’Art Residency, Riba-roja d’Ebre, Spain

2016  Arts Fund Grant, National Arts Council, Singapore

 

CURATORIAL PROJECTS

2016  Dream Party in PenguinLand, Capitol Piazza, Singapore

2016  Artists Anonymous: Creative Self-Help, That Spare Room, Singapore

2015  Visual Voices 2 Artist Showcase, ARIA Arts Café, Singapore

2014  Bricks and Clouds, Claire Loves Gallery, Singapore

2013  Dream From the Heart, Artistry, Singapore