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Art & Art History
University of Mississippi

Q&A with BFA Painting Student, Trinh Nguyen

Introduce yourself and tell us where you are from?
My name is Trinh Nguyen, and I am from Biloxi, MS.

What attracted you to the Department of Art & Art History?
I was very indecisive about where I wanted to go to complete my bachelor’s degree after Community College. When I learned about Ole Miss and what the program has to offer, I knew I wanted to go here. But more importantly, what attracted me most about the Department of Art & Art History is the range and variety of classes that the department offers.

When did you start getting into art?
I started getting into art at a very young age. Art was a hobby until high school when I was inspired by my former high school art teacher, Mrs. Quinn. She believed in me and believed that I could do bigger and better things with my art. By senior year of high school, I knew I wanted to be an artist who inspires others and goes to school for art.

What type of artwork do you create, and can you explain your process?
I create representational, realistic paintings. I love to pay attention to details and the process of mixing colors. I don’t like to mix large amounts of paint because I only focus on a small area of the canvas regardless of its size. I would usually use a small dab of paint each time, giving me the advantage of learning more about how different colors work together.

Has your artwork changed during the coronavirus?
My work has changed tremendously during the pandemic. Before the pandemic, I was still using the indirect painting process that I have learned from Mr. Jackson, resulting in more. However, since I love to pay attention to details, painting indirectly would take up twice as much amount of time just to create one painting. In order to create more works, I switched to the direct painting process.

What type of artist do you consider yourself?
I would consider myself a realist artist. But I hope one day I can create hyperrealism works and consider myself a hyperrealist painter.

Which artists do you look to for inspiration?
Mr. Jackson and Brooke Alexander, for sure. I also look at Diego Velazquez’s, Charlie Buckley’s, Jason Bouldin’s, and Marco Grassi’s works.

With exhibitions moving online, could you tell us about your BFA thesis?
I wanted my thesis to describe a part of my identity. To do that, I decided to make paintings about what I love most about my culture, which is Vietnamese cuisine and the idea of how food brings your family and your loved ones together. It’s my way of reminiscing the memories of me and my family as well as the times we spent together.

What has been your favorite class during your years here?
My favorite classes would be Plein-air with Mr. Jackson and Brooke, Intermediate Ceramics with Andrew, and Book Arts with Lauren.

Did you take an online, remote, or hybrid art class? Did it change your way of creating art or learning experience?
I took all online, remote, and hybrid art classes, and they did not change my way of creating art too much. Learning online can be difficult because you are not surrounded by your teachers and classmates, but I pulled through it. Though I do miss the constant feedback from my professors and peers.

Which professors inspired you the most?
Definitely, Mr. Jackson. He has inspired me the moment I took his Intermediate Painting class during my first semester here at Ole Miss. I was inspired by the way he approaches his paintings and how dedicated he is to his career.

Could you describe a favorite memory here in the department?
My favorite memory must be the first day of Plein-air class in 2019 when I first met my two friends, Kaitlyn B. and Wendy S. Neither of us knew that we would still be talking on a daily basis even after the class ended. It is an unexpected friendship, but it is very precious to me.

What does the Department of Art & Art History mean to you?
These three years at the Department of Art & Art History means so much and it is hard to describe the feeling when I knew that I have leave someday. This is where I grew as an artist and as a person. I learned so much from my professors and peers.

Do you have any advice for incoming art students?
Focusing on your art concentration area is great but incoming art students should go outside of their area, explore, and make connections. These connections could go a long way, and they might help with your specific area.

What are you looking forward to when things get back to normal?
I’m looking forward to social gatherings in public places where my close friends and I don’t have to stay 6 feet apart. I miss hugging my friends and talking to people at a not so awkward distance.

How has the pandemic affected your life as an artist?
The pandemic has given me more time to work on my art since I was put out of work.

Can we find you on social media?
Yes, you definitely can. You can follow my Instagram @trinhdraws.

Has social media helped you more during this time?
For sure! Social Media has given me the inspiration and motivation I need to create my work. It also has given me a lot of information about what is going on in the art community inside and outside of Oxford.

What’s your favorite thing about Oxford?
My favorite thing about Oxford must be the Square on an early quiet Saturday morning, where I would purchase a brioche and a large coffee from the BottleTree Bakery and admire the beautiful view of the Square.

What type of music do you listen to while you are creating art?
I usually do not listen to music while I paint. I would put on an old show that I have already seen before (a hundred times) and use that as my background noise. I usually would put on either The Office, F.R.I.E.N.D.S, The Trailer Park Boys, or The Good Place in the background. But when I do put on music while creating my art, I would listen to old Jazz from the 1900s, especially music by Blakey & The Jazz Messenger and Cab Calloway.

What’s your favorite thing to watch while being a couch potato?
My favorite things to watch would be period dramas, horror movies, and murder documentaries.

Do you have any plans after graduation?
My plan is to take a gap year (or years) in order to earn a little extra money while building my portfolio. With this portfolio, I hope to attend art residencies around the country and apply for graduate school for my M.F.A. in the future.