Artistic alum Pearl Ng pursues ambitious career in art and design 16 years after graduating

Jovel Queirolo
Managing Editor

Designer Pearl Ng (‘94) poses with former art teacher Dana Hart-Stone at her graduation (left). Hart-Stone inspired Ng to pursue art at a level beyond most high school art departments offerings, and the two continue to remain in contact.   PEARL NG archives | with permission
Designer Pearl Ng (‘94) poses with former art teacher Dana Hart-Stone at her graduation (left). Hart-Stone inspired Ng to pursue art at a level beyond most high school art departments offerings, and the two continue to remain in contact. PEARL NG archives | with permission

A large painting of blue irises hangs on the right wall upon entering Dean of Studies Doug Grant’s office. Pearl Ng (’94) gave Grant the piece 16 years ago after it won local awards and compliments from students and faculty.

“It ended up there when former art teacher Dana Hart-Stone was helping me decorate when I first moved into the office,” said Grant. “He thought I’d need something big for that wall so he found a student’s painting in the art room collecting dust. It was Pearl’s.”

Ng’s development as an artist at Convent has blossomed into a career as a decorated designer with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Industrial Design from the Rhode Island School of Design, a Master of Arts from New York University and starting her own line of high-quality jewelry, clutches and other chic accessories.

“My work has been well-received,” said Ng. “People love it, and moving into the luxury market, I’m slowly looking to expand to larger retailers like bigger department stores. I’ve chosen to do high quality pieces, which isn’t the easiest route. But I’m learning how to manage my own business, and am just trying to stay positive.”

Born in Hong Kong and raised in Sydney, Ng moved to San Francisco and started as a freshman at Convent where she would work with Hart-Stone and begin her career as an artist.

“I have a clear picture of the day she walked into the studio that first year,” said Hart-Stone, now art director at Santa Catalina School in Monterey. “She looked nervous, as all freshmen do, but I knew she would be very successful. She was warm and enthusiastic, and something in the way she carried herself and the fact that she would live in the studio night and day, it was very clear that she was going to succeed.”

Grant, who was Head of School at the time, worked with Hart-Stone to expand the art department — consisting of a studio in the attic of the Flood Building. The school was supportive of the arts, enthusiasm was growing, and students loved the arts, according to both Hart-Stone and Ng.

“Dana was really the reason I chose this path,” said Ng. “He was really the best teacher in the universe. He motivated and inspired me. I was serious, and he and the school were committed to supporting me.”

Alumna Pearl Ng makes accessories that are beautiful, and useful. Ng designed a leopard-print shoe bag as a stylish, practical way to carry shoes.    PEARL NG | with permission
Alumna Pearl Ng makes accessories that are beautiful, and useful. Ng designed a leopard-print shoe bag as a stylish, practical way to carry shoes. PEARL NG | with permission

Ng’s work ethic set her work apart from other students and allowed her to produce the quality of work necessary for taking Advanced Placement art, according to Hart-Stone.

“With Pearl, there was a trust that you could let her go in whatever direction she wanted and know she would produce something beautiful and intelligent,” said Hart-Stone. “She never ever let me down in terms of quality, thinking and technical aspects of a project down to cleaning up after herself. Lots of students start a project and then throw it away. Not Pearl. She finished everything that she did.”

Cranking out a large quantity of quality pieces in high school, Ng said her style changed from figurative to conceptual. She explored different materials, but painting was the medium with which she moved from depicting real life objects to abstraction and design.

“Teachers always loved my paintings, so I was happy to give them the paintings as gifts,” said Ng. “I even sold a few paintings in high school. I once had a painting that was supposed to go to the de Young stolen. I figured people must have liked my work — they were trying to steal it.”

Ng credits Hart-Stone for pushing her as a young artist. His teaching style emphasizes freedom and choice which allowed Ng to try forms of art she may not have chosen to explore on her own. They keep in touch, and Hart-Stone continues to support Ng as she makes her name as a confident designer in an unforgiving industry.

“I helped her believe in herself,” said Hart-Stone. “When she was upset or fearful, I would look at her and say, ‘Pearl, you are bulletproof.’ The design world is cut throat competitive. But she’s made it — she’s tough as nails dealing with the lousy economy after starting her own design business.”

Ng continues to give to the Sacred Heart community by contributing to a number of events, and she plans to donate jewelry to the Simple Gifts Fashion show this February.

Meanwhile, Ng’s painting still hangs in Grant’s office and her most recent work may be viewed at http://www.pearlycollection.com .