It can sometimes be hard to look at work that you’ve done in the past and see how your sensibilities have changed and your interests in certain issues wax or wane. If it wasn’t for one drawing class that I took late in my college years, with a demanding and challenging professor, I would probably be a doctor today. Though I had been drawing most of my life as a hobby, the large public high school I went to in Portland, Oregon had no strong support for the arts. Art was a class that contained mostly the kids who needed easy credits to graduate (or so it seemed), and I steered clear.
It wasn’t until this one drawing professor in my junior year of college challenged me in a way that I had yet to be challenged–she confronted me with tough questions, made sure that I pushed the limits of what I was capable of, and didn’t let me do the bare minimum to get by (my modus operandi up until then). No science or math teacher had done that up until then, even though my coursework throughout college was dominated by math and science (I ended up with a double major in studio art and engineering). I could mostly get by in math and science courses without having to engage anybody or anything, completing problem sets quickly and in the scheduled manner. I was mediocre, but competent, heading down the easy and obvious path towards medical school.
Well, after that one drawing class, where the questions weren’t answered after 2 hours per problem set, I decided to try and apply myself as fully as I could to art. I hadn’t really been exposed to it very much in my youth, unless you count the comic books that a childhood friend and I would try to write and draw ourselves as art–certainly not the Euro-centric “fine art” that was the academic definition of the word at the East Coast college that I went to. In a way, I’m still trying to catch up on all the learning and exposure to art that other people have gotten throughout their lives. And how I got to architecture is another story. But I still think of that first drawing professor I had, and how she challenged me to use my eyes to explore and question the meaning of the world and environment we are in–to not let easy answers be a shortcut to a meaningful inquiry into what it means to be a human being in this world.
To that end, I’ve finally posted some of the paintings I worked on from my first painting class my senior year of college until the day I went to graduate architecture school over on quangtruong.com. They’re divided into two different sets–”blue” and “abstract,” and it’s another story why I changed from one to the other.