For artist Joy Luk Pat, her first solo exhibition, Wealth and Happiness, is a celebration of everything around and within us including nature, our environment, and talents.
“The underlying quest for wealth and happiness is to enjoy the benefits of freedom. When I think about freedom it’s the freedom to be authentic, to be able to transform lives in some way, the freedom to have the opportunity to be a warrior for the world.
“It’s the abundance and beauty around us. It’s looking at nature in its glory. It’s about being touched by the sweet music of our steelpan and seeing the traditions of our ancestors integrated into our lives. It’s about celebrating the gifts we have.”
This appreciation starts with a person’s mind set. She encourages individuals to ignore the negative things others may say, find their talent or medium of expression and enhance it.
“I invite everyone to shift their mind set from what society has set for them – that you must have a house, you must live according to the rules, you must have children, you must have a car – whatever it is. Do what is right for yourself. Do what you are called to do.”
She said a person has to first have happiness before they can inspire or make an impact on their world. Whether that world includes one person or 100, they can be a blessing to and make a difference in the lives of those in that world.
However, she said this cannot be achieved if the individual is not doing something they love. And there must be a balance between doing what you love and financial responsibilities.
“The show is a challenge to discover what makes you happy and wealthy inside yourself in your own world. When you find that inside yourself, you are able to impact one person, a group of people, and eventually the world because there are ripple effects to people’s actions.”
The exhibition comprises 50 mixed-media pieces created over the last two years.
Luk Pat said she enjoys the depth and texture mixed media brings. In her opinion, it brings art to life and invites people to interact with it. She believes if people want to touch a piece, it means they feel connected to it in some way. She also likes to use metallic paints because it is a “playful way” to offer a new perspective.
Both elements allow the viewer to see something different in different lights and angles.
“Art isn’t just about looking pretty on a wall. It’s about invoking something. It means I as an artist have made an emotional connection with them, that they have seen the message in it.
“Art heals both the artist and the viewer. I think that’s part of the role of artists – to bring some sort of joy and light to people.”
She said the pandemic was very transformative for her as she made a conscious decision to remain positive. In an effort to continue to do so, she reads a lot, listens to podcasts, and generally focusses on personal and spiritual growth.
“You can choose to be negative and cynical but I chose to take a positive approach with this. Every single piece of art I create is positive. I choose to do it. It’s part of what I want to share with the world.”
Although Wealth and Happiness is her first solo exhibition, Luk Pat has been painting since she was a child. But it was only when she attended St Joseph’s Convent, Port of Spain that she started taking it seriously.
After doing A-Levels she had two dreams – marketing and art. She decided to pursue business first so her knowledge would be a foundation for the business of art later on. She said she did not want to be a “poor starving artist” or only be recognised for her work when she was dead.
She wanted to change the way people look at art and artists, to make people realise that, like any career, art requires hard work, discipline, and focus. She stressed that art is a business that includes elements like marketing and accounts.
Luk Pat completed a degree in accounting at the UWI in 2004, and in 2010 she completed a master of business administration at the Heriot-Watt University.
She worked in marketing for 17 years and thoroughly enjoyed the process of creating something out of nothing, finding the best way to say something, and highlighting positive aspects of a product or service because it was a similar creation process to her art.
Although she stopped painting for many years, she had ways to express herself through art in her work when designing an ad campaign, branding, interior decorating for events, designing a flyer and more.
In 2016, she had a chance meeting with her former art teacher who asked why she was not painting. After that five-minute conversation she thought about it, bought art supplies, and started painting again.
Later that year she did her first exhibition as a member of the Art Society and won the award for best emerging artist. The win inspired her to continue to create. She also joined Women in Art and won the award for Excellence in Mixed Media in December 2021.
“It’s been a fantastic journey over the last few years. Every single step that I take, I feel as if I’m supported. That is wealth. That is the abundance. It’s not just about money. It’s the friends, family, it’s these little blessings that inspire you to go forward and share light with the world.”
In March 2021, she left the corporate world to become a full-time artist.
“Covid taught me to value and celebrate life. It’s been a new and exciting challenge. I want to say it’s something I’ve done because so many people go through life and don’t live their dream.
“I also wanted to show my two sons that it’s okay to be brave, it’s okay to pursue their dreams, it’s okay to take a risk, it’s okay to find and discover themselves. But to also have that balance, looking at the financial aspect of it because we do need to live.”
She believes having wealth and happiness at the same time is not only possible but “ever present” – you just have to open your eyes to see it.
Wealth and Happiness is being exhibited at Arnim’s Art Galleria, Tragarete Road, and will run until July 1.