From a young age, Cong Yu knew she wanted to be the master of her fate and do something she was passionate about. Growing up, she discovered her passion for art, which brought her from China to the University of Sydney, where she studied art history, criticism, and conversation as part of her Bachelor of Arts degree.
Art history graduate and founder of CONG YU jewellery label admits choosing the right arts course wasn’t an easy decision.
"It was definitely a complicated decision-making process. I studied the course handbook and did various research and comparison with my other options. I was stunned by the diversity of the liberal arts education provided by the University of Sydney and believed it was the best course provider for my interests," Yu says.
Drawing inspiration from her degree, she says the first idea about her jewellery label came when studying Cézanne’s questioning of ‘object’ as an art history student. This experience introduced her to the subject-object dualism, and she formed an interest in jewellery as a communication mechanism between the wearer and the object.
Her CONG YU jewellery label is inspired by her interest in jewellery as a sculptural material. Thinking of the compositions of classical bodies, her work aims to expand the notions of bodily figuration. Considering jewellery as a continuation of the arms or shoulders, she is concerned with exploration and an expansion form. Her designs are reminiscent of a notion of life and rebirth, considering jewellery to be innately sculptural and connected to growth and transformation.
All skills, no matter how insignificant, will be useful at some point. Try to make the most of your degree or creative studies, but don’t let the qualification define you.
Yu is currently working on launching her new collection, which is about heroic spirit against hardship and uncertainty.
She enjoys the challenges her work brings and believes being a creative professional and small business owner is the best career path to unleash her potential.
"My daily life varies depending on where my business is at the time. Generally, my life is busy and intense, but the best thing about my work is that there is no typical day," she says.
This talented and hard-working multidisciplinary artist admits what gets her out of bed each day is her passion to give back to the world.
"I receive a lot of passion from the world I live in and have an intense desire to give it back through my own creativity and vitality."
There are often misconceptions about how an arts degree doesn’t get you a job or career that makes an impact or isn’t contributing in conventional ways, but Yu says the skills she learned during her studies have helped her immensely.
"The research skills I learnt at uni definitely helped a lot when entering a new field of work. I also apply art history research methods in reserve to jewellery practice."
As an art history graduate and successful business owner, she advises the potential arts students to nurture their skills and individuality, which, she thinks, is the most beautiful and powerful asset we have.
"All skills, no matter how insignificant, will be useful at some point. Try to make the most of your degree or your creative studies, but don’t let the qualification define you."
She believes one of the most important lessons an arts degree teaches you is to embrace the complexity of humanity and society.
But her time at university taught her other valuable life lessons too – to be bold and follow your dreams, but at the same time, be grateful and humble to the privileges you have.