Artist Spotlight: Ha Pham

Visual Arts


As the third artist-in-residence to grace the artist’s nook at Art Ovation Hotel, Ha Pham has, throughout this week of the Sarasota Film Festival, been showing her sketches and paintings—not to mention making new ones in real-time—and serving as something of a local artistic ambassador for the many festival guests populating the hotel. Arriving in the United States from Vietnam at age 8, Pham found an outlet in art and room to grow in Sarasota, apprenticing with local artists and training at Southern Atelier. SRQ took a moment to look beyond the brushstrokes.

SRQ: What is your preferred medium/media and why? Ha Pham: I love charcoal because it’s very forgiving. It’s a raw and simple medium but can have so much impact, and it’s easy to bring around with you everywhere. I also love oils because of its blending capability. 

How did you know that this was how you wanted to communicate with the world? Art just came to me naturally. When I came to the United States, I didn’t speak English so I gravitated toward visual arts. I’d checked out books with bird drawings at the library and copied those drawings. I didn’t have many friends so I spent a lot of time drawing alone. I still don’t have many friends but that’s ok, I have more time for creating art. 

Who were/are your biggest artistic influences? There are so many great master artists I admired. I love Gustav Klimt’s audacity for unconventional figure paintings, John Sargent Singer’s brush strokes, Degas’ uses of colors. There are several artists I follow on Instagram who influence me a lot: Jeremy Mann, Romel De La Torre, Kevin Bielfuss, Jaw Cooper, Reiner Gamboa, Andy Espinoza, Audrey Kawasaki, Soey Milk, and many more. I could fill up the whole page. 

What keeps bringing you back to the canvas? Love and passion, I am happiest when I create art. 

As you finish your week in residency with Art Ovation Hotel, what does it mean as an up-and-coming artist to see this kind of support for the arts in the community? I really appreciate this kind of nurturing environment. I get to interact with art admirers on a personal level and they get to see and understand the process of a painting. I love it. 

Where can readers see your work around town? At Cafe Barbosso and Empacurious, and of course my website, I’m also on Instagram @hapham_art.

What’s next? I’m going to be working with Cafe Barbosso to help a local charity called Everyday Blessings, a foster home care for children and young adults.  Every painting we sell, a portion of the proceed will go to the charity. I’m also going to be teaching more. I didn’t realize how much I like to see a student progressing. This July, I want to do a painting trip in Vietnam. Traveling and painting has always been my dream.

Pictured: Ha Pham hard at work in the artist's nook at Art Ovation Hotel. Photo by Wyatt Kostygan.

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