Class of 2020 Artists of the Year: Kathy Pham and Matthew Silalahi


Brianna Sanchez and Dylan Tressider, Review Staff

Kathy Pham: Artist of the Year By Brianna Sanchez 

Senior Kathy Pham has had a passion for art ever since elementary school. Apart from her high grades, challenging classes, participation in Speech and Debate, and other activities at Rangeview, Pham says, “Art is something I’ve always stuck to, no matter what.” 

As a young child, her parents figured she was a creative person, but never took her passion seriously until she was older. Pham recalls telling her mom at a young age that she wanted to be an artist when she grew up and mentioned that her mom was very discouraging of the idea.

“She was like, ‘No you’re never gonna make money,’” Pham says.

Due to her parents’ initial disapproval of her passion, Pham continued to draw and paint throughout middle school; it wasn’t until high school that both she and her parents truly took her art seriously. Pham’s academic standing, while impressive, didn’t always fascinate her as art did. 

Pham says, “Don’t get me wrong, I love English, social studies, politics, and other subjects, but I don’t think it’s the same as art.” 

At Rangeview, Pham got to explore other interests such as Speech and Debate which helped improve her public speaking skills and give her memories with her team members that remain special to her. 

Pham also mentions that she, “Didn’t necessarily have an actual friend group until junior year and once [she] found them, [they’ve] clicked and never stopped talking since.” 

This piece of work by Pham, was awarded a Scholastic Gold Key in Colorado for Painting. Senior Helen Do says that Pham conveys growth in her art skills, “through her various art pieces showcasing and celebrating women of color.”

“Hardworking, dedicated, and brave,” One of her close friends, senior Helen Do, describes Pham. “Someone who puts effort in everything she does.” Despite knowing her for only a few years, Do recognizes that Pham’s passion and motivation to improve her skills have flourished throughout high school. 

By taking art classes at Rangeview, including two AP Art courses, Pham has been able to take critiques from her art teachers, for which she is really grateful for. 

Mr. Riggins has been a teacher of hers for multiple art and engineering classes and says that Pham, “Would take risks in her artwork to help her explore complicated ideas,” and helped others, “develop a sympathetic understanding of the complicated content of her artwork.” From 2D to 3D,  Pham dove into many different forms of art and put emphasis on its meaning to her — and to her audience. 

As put by Mr. Riggins, her passion for art allowed her to, “Explore an idea without boundaries;” a concept that has stayed with her throughout her whole life.

The memories, lessons, and skills she took away from her time at Rangeview are something she advises underclassmen to take advantage of. For her, time flew by quick, and before she knew it, her senior year was coming to a close. 

Pham advises students to, “Make the most out of your experience, because you never know when it’s gonna be over.”

As for her plans after high school, she has decided to remain close to home and will be attending the University of Colorado Denver and majoring in Digital Design. Her parents were also really supportive of her decision to pursue a creative career in the city, despite it not always being seen in a positive light in Asian American culture. Though she began her application journey by applying to out-of-state schools as well as art schools, Pham didn’t get accepted. 

However, she mentions that those rejections helped her realize that, “Where you go doesn’t make up who you are.”


Matthew Silalahi: Artist of the Year By Dylan Tressider

Matthew Silalahi, an RHS Senior, pictured above with his camera at a sports event.
Matthew is one of the greatest photographers RHS has ever produced. (Illustrate the GAME)

Trips to different places can be wonderful, exciting, and enjoyable experiences. However, some can become much more than just your average trip. Some vacations, you can truly discover who you are or something new and exciting about yourself. After being inspired by the photos of former Review correspondent Peter Vo, Matthew Silalahi went to LA in the vibrant summer of 2019 with nothing to take photos with but an old Canon EOS Rebel XSI, a cheap SD card with some batteries, and he had no idea that he was about to learn something about himself that he didn’t know was in him. 

But first, before anyone begins any new thing, they often have a hero, an inspiration, or an idol. And when Matthew Silalahi saw the photos taken by Peter Vo just before his trip to LA, he found his hero in photography. 

“When I saw the 2018-2019 playoff basketball photos taken in the coliseum by Peter Vo, I was amazed. To me they were legendary, they really told a story and showed emotion, and that’s what I aspired for some of my photos to be like,” he said.

Although Matt’s journey through photography had humble beginnings, he later found himself being invited to RHS basketball games to take pictures of the players while they played. And, it didn’t stop there. Before long, Matthew was all around the Denver Metro Area, taking photos for other basketball teams and watermarking his photos with “4THEGAME”.

An emotional photo captured by Matthew Silalahi, showing the emotions of the players and fans.
It is watermarked with “4THEGAME”. Image Credit: Matthew Silalahi

However, Matthew hasn’t been alone on his journey. He’s had friends to help him along the way, and one such friend was RHS sophomore Yared Mulugeta. 

Yared has been a good friend to Matt through his photography journey and said that “He has been an amazing friend as well as an amazing photographer. I believe that he has gone through a lot to get to where he’s at now, and will only grow and become better than he already has.”

Throughout Matt’s journey, he has taken more photos than anyone could hope to count. He’s been to dozens of different games, grinding it out, and perfecting his craft, all the while growing his own specialized style, iconically watermarked with “4THEGAME”. Sometimes, when you put in enough work, a hobby becomes a passion. 

“I’ve seen [Matthew’s] interest in photography turn into a passion he deeply wishes to strive after. To me, I see his development as something I’m proud of. Seeing him improve and sharpen his skills throughout the year has been really cool,” senior Erica Carlos Perez said.

Though the future can be an uncertain and foggy thought, Matthew Silalahi knows exactly where he wants to go. 

“My plan is to join a media group at CSU and shoot for NCAA sports events while still growing “4THEGAME” and turning it into something bigger.” 

It’s hard to say where the winding road of the future will take the class of 2020, but one thing is certain: 

Matthew Silalahi has no plans on stopping his photography.

Another photo from Matt, this picture of a player shooting the ball captures the moment
And showcases Matt’s abilities. Image Credit: Matthew Silalahi