As Governor General Award-winning artist Paul Wong discusses creative freedom, the complexity of this ideal soon becomes clear.

“Creative freedom can be experienced at any age. It is a rare and precious moment – even for an artist. I’ve seen kids and adults and seniors experience brief moments of creative freedom,” he says. “To be allowed to let your imaginations soar, and embrace something new and different, is ageless.”

“I’ve experienced that sense of openness and wonder with art, where it’s taken me to a new and magical place. Or a work that’s challenged my perspective and provoked questions,” says the new media artist, who is collected by the National Gallery of Canada, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Vancouver Art Gallery, among many others.

While creative freedom can be found in a gallery, it can also be found in the art studio.

“I have had mentors that have impacted and influenced me in extraordinary ways – artists and teachers that have given me the opportunity to create in a supportive and safe environment,” says the artist, who donated the neon-and-steel piece Eternity to Splash 2016. It’s a fitting connection, as the funds raised at Splash help Arts Umbrella provide safe, supportive, and life-changing arts programs for young people throughout Metro Vancouver.

“[A safe and supportive environment] is being given the tools. It’s providing someone or a community with space: a psychological space, a physical space, a monetary space, a creative space, an exhibition space to really let them explore outside the box, to really let go.”

The space and freedom to create is something that the British Columbia artist is always pursuing.

“I wish that everyone could have true creative freedom,” he says, leaving us with a question to provoke our imaginations – “what would that be like?”

Eternity, 2016

9 Full Moon Drawings Black on White and 9 Full Moon Drawings White on Black, 2011