Annandale Campus hosted an exhibit by artist and former NOVA student Michelle Pham in the Verizon Gallery at the Richard J. Ernst Community Cultural Center November 10 to 15. The Verizon Gallery hosted two artist’s receptions from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on November 14 and 15.
Inspired by the tragic 2010 slaying of her niece, Vanessa Pham, Michelle’s recent artwork has helped her through her pain and pays tribute to her niece who was only 19 years old at the time of her death. The perpetrator was found and convicted of first-degree murder, and Michelle and her family have been forever changed.
“Life is a journey of happiness, sorrow, courage and strength. It has its own beginning and end, but we carry with us the precious memories. The journey of life is always looking forward, even though we know that, at one point or another, we will realize that some people can only live in our heart, but cannot be by our side until the end,” Michelle said. “The journey of life is a journey of finding ourselves, finding our power and living for ourselves and not for everyone else.
“It’s like a colorful painting and we are the only artists for our journey. In this exhibit, I want to be the artist for my own journey, the journey with many beautiful memories of my loved ones, especially Vanessa Pham, my lovely niece who is gone forever. Each of my paintings of her display happy memories I will carry in my heart until the end.”
Michelle studied art at NOVA before receiving her Bachelor of Arts from George Mason University in 2000. Despite her day-to-day job, she finds time to pursue her love of art and teaching art to others. This exhibition brought together a select group of Michelle’s work and some of her students’ artwork all inspired by Vanessa.
“I only saw like two photographs in her iPhone, so we were taking a big leap. But she was so passionate and so excited and she’d never done a full fledge exhibition,” Ernst Cultural Center Director Kevin Sheehan said.
Those who attended the reception completed comment cards. One card from each reception was selected and two lucky patrons were given a work of art to keep. The comments will also be incorporated on Michelle’s blog and Facebook page to continue the tribute to Vanessa.
Local news stations, WRC-TV (NBC 4), WUSA (ABC 9) and WTTG-TV (Fox 5), covered the exhibit and Michelle’s story in a recent segment. To see the NBC4 segment, go online.