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8-year-old artist becomes Nevada state winner in Google Doodle contest

8-year-old artist becomes Nevada state winner in Google Doodle contest


Christopher DeVargas

On Monday, June 10, 2024, 9-year-old Ruby Wan holds up her drawing that won first place in the Nevada state finals of the Doodle for Google national contest.

Sunday, June 16, 2024 | 2:00 AM

Bright orange, yellow, blue, and green colors flow through pages filled with birds flying over fish-filled oceans.

Inside one of the fish is a bookshelf filled with literature, several bright green plants and a television showing Hello Kitty characters Kuromi, a white rabbit with a black jester's hat, and Cinnamoroll, a white dog with long ears.

A woman with long dark hair peers out from above the bird, watching the sunset from atop what artist Ruby Wang calls her hideaway.

But some birds aren't birds, and some fish aren't fish, and they live in a future where climate change has caused glaciers to melt and sea levels to rise — a reimagined future from the mind of 8-year-old Wang, Nevada's state winner in Google's 16th annual Doodle for Google contest.

“I didn't expect her to be a state champion,” Ruby's mother, Ailyn Wang, said of her daughter, “but I think she has a lot of ideas and is very creative.”

Officials said Wang was selected from tens of thousands of applications from students across the United States and its territories.

Launched in the United States in 2008, Doodle for Google is an annual art competition for students from kindergarten to 12th grade. Children can submit one original piece of art incorporating any form of GOOGLE lettering based on a theme announced by Google each year. While artificially generated art is not accepted, students can get creative using their own medium and submit everything from paintings to stop-motion videos to virtual reality creations.

This year's theme: My hopes for the next 25 years

Ruby Wang answered that call with her painting Swimming Houses and Flying Houses, in which rising sea levels lead people to live in fish-shaped houses on the ocean floor, or bird-shaped houses in the air.

The third-grader became interested in the issue of melting glaciers after learning about it in science class at John W. Bonner Elementary School in Summerlin.

Contest winners receive company swag along with other big prizes. Ruby Wans said hers was a Chromebook, a shirt with her work on it, and a small celebration where she could show off her winning piece.

In a blog post about the contest, the company said it encouraged students to try new mediums and think outside the box, and that creativity was on display in the tens of thousands of submissions, which reflected aspirations for a healthier planet, lasting connections with friends and family, space exploration, dream jobs, technological advances and medical breakthroughs.

When Google put out the call for submissions, Ailin Wang never imagined that a simple ad on her Instagram feed would lead to such a big impact for her daughters. She said it was a good opportunity for them to think and be creative, so she saved the submission and shared it with students at her school, including Ruby.

Ruby Wang has been drawing for almost two years, starting as a passion project to stave off boredom and get away from her iPad, says Ailin Wang. The 8-year-old loves to express her emotions through drawing, and that's not just on paper, but also in the little dresses she designs herself to dress up her dolls.

The walls of Ailings Art Studio are lined with colorful drawings by Ruby Wang and her 5-year-old sister, who recently started art classes. A simple four-legged table next to the front door of the small school at 3400 West Desert Inn holds an assortment of clay sculptures that students have made and painted.

Ailin Wang, who makes and sells jewelry, opened an art studio in a corner of her husband's office after her eldest daughter became interested in drawing but found it lonely to sketch on her own.

The Wangs currently work with about 30 students a week, with Ruby Wang doing arts and crafts for two hours a few times a week when she's not at school or gymnastics practice.

It took Ruby Wang a week to draw and colour the entire piece, with her mother only giving advice on the finer details such as how to combine colours, Ailin Wang said.

“The icebergs will melt and there will be no land, so I just thought about birds and fish,” Ruby Wang said of her painting.

When Ailin Wang got a call from Google informing her that her daughter had won the Nevada state election, she initially thought it was a scam, but as the news became more real, it felt surreal.

For Ruby Wang, winning was just gratifying, she said, especially now that she has a Chromebook to help her prepare for her school's end-of-year exams.

In a June 10 announcement by Google, five of the 55 finalists were selected to compete for the national title, but Ruby Wang was not among them.

But that doesn't mean she'll stop doing what she loves. Ailin Wang said she won't force her daughter to enter any more competitions, but if Ruby Wang is interested, she's open to giving it another go.

Since submitting her Google Doodle, Ruby Wang has already started on her next projects, including a sunset landscape dappled with yellow, orange and red, and an ink drawing of the Eiffel Tower completed solely from a reference photo.

Ruby Wang said she doesn't know how long she will continue painting, but as long as she has the time, you can find her in her mom's studio.

“I think she will continue to draw because I think art can make people more creative,” Wang Ailing said. “As long as she loves drawing, I will continue to encourage her to draw.”

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