Skateboard & Longboard Series: “Life & Decay”

“Life, Decay, Retribution, & Last Hope”

(2017 // Board Width Ranges: 7.75″-8.5″)

Medium: Refurbished wooden skateboards,

& longboards with acrylic paint & micron pens.




Process Photos 


Theme & Characteristics:  This particular series was composed in such a way to emphasize the disruptions in organic shapes using rigid patterns. This intrusion of organic space is an analogy to the influence of humankind on the natural environment. More specifically it is about the intrusions of ivory poaching and its effects on elephants, a highly empathetic animal that doesn’t deserve to be hunted to extinction.

The only piece to break this style was my final board, “Last Hope.” This final addition to my series symbolizes lost innocence and memorializes these great beasts in their traditional setting. The style used in this piece was the opposite of the theme. Instead of harsh geometrics, or patterns breaking up organic space, there is no presence of rigid organics in the natural environment. The introduction of the sniper in the far left is the only rigid intrusion visible. Even the cascading clouds that break up the negative space are rounded shapes.

My first & second installation to this series, “Life, & Decay,” mirrored one another, but only in their silhouettes. A deeper look, and one will notice that while “Life” shows the portrait of a full bodied elephant head, “Decay” shows a distressed creature with exposed bones, skin sinews and a grimacing expression. The connecting factor between the two pieces is hidden within the intricacies of the details intruding the background. Both subjects show eruptions from their trunks that begin as rounded shapes and mimic water spouting out, but eventually turn into sharp triangle patterns.

I wanted to portray that the relationship between humans and elephants in particular has been toxic. We might as well be poisoning their water is the statement I am trying to make. The longer our relationship with elephants has progressed, the more damage they have taken. Thus “Life” is the portrayal of the beginnings of our relationship with these compassionate animals, but “Decay” on the other hand represents how toxic our relationship has been on them.

My third installation, “Retribution,” is a call to action piece. It highlights a major cause of poaching in East Africa.

When I began this series, my goal was to bring awareness to ivory poaching. What I found was that for decades people have known about this issue. Unfortunately the people have become desensitized to such news because it has been blasted on repeat by every animal right’s activist. What people don’t know is why elephants were being poached by the thousands each year. The obvious answer is consumerism. Much of which resides in China’s black market. However, that is only what is fueling the demand for ivory, but a unknown factor is that it was being used to fund militias in areas such as Sudan, Chad, The Central African Republic (CAR), and The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) . The worst of them all was the The Lord’s Resistance Army, or the LRA. Even though they no longer pose a threat as of 2017, the devastation that they had left behind was irreversible. Kony justified his ivory poaching with his needs to fund his war.

Thousands of elephants died in vain. Even though the LRA is irrelevant in the eyes of the Ugandan government, the idea that killing elephants for money is justified, was brought to the minds of the impoverish people of Africa. Who wish to exploit such ways as a means to change their impoverish lives, but at what cost? This “get rich quick” gimmick may be laden in blood, but it is also too irresistible for the impoverish.

What the impoverish of Africa really need is a strong education to give them the skill sets that they need to move up in society without any gimmicks. This solution may not be original. It is however effective, if enough support is created. Uneducated individuals are vulnerable to militias’ influences. Uneducated individuals have the ability to attain such knowledge through the skill of critical thinking. I read about critical thinking in Paulo Freire’s “Pedagogy of the Oppressed.” It outlines the importance of critical thinking in regards to one’s freedom. He also explains the role of oppression that takes place in insufficient educational environments. You don’t need a teacher to gain a sufficient education. In fact in his teachings argue that the role of the teacher and the role of the student should be interchangeable. Why shouldn’t the student be the teacher at times and vice versa? The impoverish people of Africa need to be told that the “get rich quick” gimmick  is not through poaching, but form of well placed knowledge that every individual has the ability to attain. In my opinion Freire’s greatest words were, “We cannot enter the struggle as objects in order to later become subjects.”

  • Theme: Pressures from militias and its effects on illegal ivory hunting.
  • Them: Humankind’s intrusions on the environment


Christy, Bryan, et al. “How Killing Elephants Finances Terror in Africa.” National Geographic, 12 Aug. 2015,

Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Continuum, 2000.

Presse, Agence France. “Uganda Army ‘Recovers Elephant Tusks Hidden by LRA Rebels.’”Https://, 3 Feb. 2013, 6:00 PM,



  1. Reblogged this on H.E. ELLIS and commented:
    Very rarely do I hear about young people striving to achieve much more than amass an audience for their whining, which is why I am honored to showcase the work of such an amazing talent and human as Vy Chau. Please drop by her blog. You won’t be disappointed.


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