New York Times honors young political cartoonist

Liu's political cartoon placed as runner-up in the New York Times Editorial Cartoon Contest. 

Photo: artwork posted on the NY TimesLiu's political cartoon placed as runner-up in the New York Times Editorial Cartoon Contest. Photo: artwork posted on the NY Times

BY KATE BUNSTER

GAZETTE REPORTER

NISKAYUNA – At just 17 years old, Veronica Liu can cross one thing off her bucket list that creatives dream about: to be recognized by the New York Times.

On Nov. 19, 2015, the Times announced this year’s winners for their first-ever editorial cartoon contest. Liu placed as a runner-up out of upwards of 500 entries from students between the ages of 13 and 19. There were five winners, 17 runners-up and 26 honorable mentions.

Veronica Liu. Photo: Rebecca Isenhart

Veronica Liu.
Photo: Rebecca Isenhart

Students “responded by using humor, wit and irony to comment on the issues they care about: the 2016 presidential campaign, the Islamic State’s rampage in the Middle East, gun violence, education inequality, global migration, the California drought and more,” noted the Times’ website.

Liu’s illustration didn’t fall into any of the above categories, however. The artist chose to address the measles outbreak that occurred at Disneyland, California back in January. It was reported that it sickened 147 people throughout the nation and was declared over in April. The incident sparked controversy about the importance of vaccinating children, which grabbed Liu’s interest.

“It’s something I feel strongly about,” she said. “When you don’t get vaccinated, you are putting other people at risk.”

The illustration shows a purple outline of Cinderella’s Castle, decorated with red ‘measle’ spots and a quote by Melinda Gates (philanthropist and wife of Microsoft founder Bill Gates) in her response to the anti-vaccine movement. It reads:

People in the developing world know the power of [vaccines]. They will walk 10 kilometers in the heat with their child and line up to get a vaccine, because they have seen death. [Americans have] forgotten what measles deaths look like.”

Liu, who has been interested in art for as long as she can remember, has been the graphics editor for the school paper, The Warrior, since her freshman year. Creating political cartoons for each issue, she has become a natural at taking an idea and representing an opinion through art. She has also placed three times in the Doodle 4 Google competition. When she saw the contest advertised on the Times’ website, she knew she had to take part.

It wasn’t her first rodeo, but going into the competition, she didn’t expect to place. In fact, when she received the notification letter from the times over email, she was in disbelief.

“It’s not that I didn’t go in to win, but I didn’t know what the competition would be like,” she said. But having the experience from the newspaper and her natural talent for art, she won the judges over with her piece.

When word of Liu’s achievement spread through the Niskayuna community she received an overwhelming amount of support and congratulatory remarks.

“It was really great experience to be apart of the contest,” she said.

When she’s not creating political cartoons for The Warrior, she enjoys creating art with different mediums, such as painting. She also dabbles in video game animation. Although her creative talents seem at opposite spectrums of one another, there are a surprising number of similarities, according to Liu. She finds that her creativity flows seamlessly from one medium to another.  “It’s all about conveying a narrative through artwork,” she said.

Outside the art world, Liu is a member of the Niskayuna track and cross country teams.  She lives at home with her younger brother Brandon and her parents, Sam and Irene. She also serves as a student representative on the Board of Education. In this role, she attends board meetings, bringing student opinions and suggestion to the board.

Looking to the future, she is unsure at the moment where she will end up, but as unexpected as placing in the contest was, it seems like she’s ready for anything.

“I would like to continue art [after college], but I’m not sure how it will manifest,” she added.