“I am done being small” – Interview with Stephanie Vivian Yu

Stephanie Vivian Yu is a multi-talented artist who practices simplicity in art and life. Today she talks about her reason for wearing the same color every day, defining her own success, and the best advice she’s ever received.

Photo provided by and used with permission from Stephanie Vivian Yu - December 2, 2015, during a 90 minute performance titled "A series of movements and postures for self love." - Caption credit: Stephanie via @I_see_Yu on Instagram, Photo credit: @smilerrose via Instagram

Photo provided by and used with permission from Stephanie Vivian Yu – December 2, 2015, during a 90 minute performance titled “A series of movements and postures for self love.” – Caption credit: Stephanie via Instagram (@I_See_Yu), Photo credit: Sarah Saaristo via Instagram (@smilerrose)

Name and blog: Stephanie Vivian Yu

Fun fact about you:
I am a first generation American born Chinese. I’ve only been to China once, but I’ve visited Taiwan a dozen times. I feel at home in all these places.

Funner fact: 
I’ve worn red consecutively for 180 days. It began as a performance assignment. Does performing red change how I view myself? Does it empower me? Does it make me uncomfortable? I noticed that I felt very naked and vulnerable for the first month. It was painful to look in the mirror and to see the bright red reflecting back at me. After a month I started feeling at home in red. It matched my desire to be seen and to be powerful. As a minority I have been taught by our culture to remain silent, invisible, and passive. I am done being small.

Funnest fact:
I am highly intuitive. Sometimes it can be a burden to know so much about others. It’s like being able to read minds. I’ve learned to give people their privacy without denying my intuitive super powers. It just means I get to grow my ability to hold pain.

What do you think has been essential to your success so far as a photographer?
What’s been essential in my success as a photographer and artist is that I’ve learned to define my own terms for success. I’ve decided that success is simply continuing to make art despite the disinterest and rejection coming from external forces. This could be culture, friends, family, the “art world.” I remind myself daily to value the practice of making art, while seeing it as a gift to myself and to the world. 

What was something that surprised you about photography?
Photography surprises me because it is a magical instrument that transforms the mundane moments in life into otherworldly or spiritual encounters. I never know what I will get when I click the shutter. Sometimes the most appealing shots come out flat, while the most mundane gesture or landscape becomes Holy.

If you had to describe your blog in 6 words or less, what would you say?
Space for silenced voices to be heard.

Who or what inspires you?
Anyone who takes risks in life to remain true to their values. My mom is my first inspiration. She emigrated from Taiwan to New Mexico at 26 with a suitcase and some change. She met my dad in grad school and eloped in Vegas after three months of dating. She came from a very poor family and always had to borrow money from vendors, neighbors, and friends. She decided that she never wanted to owe anyone anything if she could help it. She works hard and makes sacrifices to have the life she wants. Her accounting business has provided so much for my family. But most of all I am inspired by her humility and simplicity. She will never look down on anyone who has less materially. She will only encourage and admonish.

What is your all-time favorite bucket list item (of yours or someone else’s)?
To live simply and to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord in all that I do and all that I am. I want to commune with God in every moment, from standing in natural wonders like Arches in Utah, to sitting and reading with a cup of tea on a Tuesday afternoon.

If you aren’t doing anything related to your photography, what are you doing in your free time?
Reading, absorbing, looking at art

Having coffee with my creative and courageous girlfriends. Talking to my mom and crying about how hard it is to adult.

Swiping left on Tinder, and rolling my eyes

Working on changing my attitude about dating

Plotting my next adventure

Eating at some gluten-free, vegan restaurant

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Make a decision and don’t look back. Keep going. Be courageous. Fail better.

Readers: Join me in thanking Stephanie for sharing her time, stories, and advice with us! If you want to learn more about her, check out her blog and Instagram.

Want more interviews like this? Leave a comment and let me know who you would like to see featured, and be sure to sign up to stay updated on all the latest posts!

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