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Portland High School Graduate Continues Artistic Ties with School

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Portland High School Graduate Continues Artistic Ties with School
Posted on 09/22/2016
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Artist Kathy Truong graduated from Portland High School in June, but she didn’t let that stop her from continuing to work on a school art project that she began as a sophomore.

In 2014, Truong started doing a series of portraits of alumni of PHS, the second oldest operating public high school in the United States, and also of some PHS staff.  She just returned to the school this month to present her latest mixed media portrait – that of new PHS Principal Sheila Jepson – and see it installed in the school’s main hallway beside her other portraits.

“I was truly amazed, awed and touched with the portrait,” Jepson said. “Wow, she is an amazing artist – so skilled, so very in tune with what she is doing. I am so impressed with her skill … And yes, very honored!”

Truong said she first started creating the portraits as a way of celebrating the long history of PHS, which was founded in 1821. “In the (PHS) library,” she said, “there's a room where all the yearbooks are archived, dating back to 1921. I pulled a couple yearbooks from every decade and took photos of notable alumni who struck a presence within me; they weren't necessarily the class president or nominated for a superlative but they stood out and remain nameless. I wanted to create an incoherent timeless timeline of these faces to commemorate how far this school has come, has gone back in history, that these people were once here and a piece of them will stay here for the present to remember."

Barbara Loring, Truong’s art teacher at PHS, called Truong “one of the most invested, dedicated and advanced young artists and individuals I have had the pleasure to know in my 34 years of teaching art.”

She said Truong’s accomplishment while at PHS included leadership in the school’s student-led Art Club and becoming one of the key artists and organizers in the school’s Marine Mammal Awareness First Friday Art Walk 2014, for which she generated massive, hand-printed descriptive posters. Truong also was a leader in the Portland High Chapter of the Seeds of Peace Youth Organization, and created a portrait of Seeds of Peace founder Tim Wilson.

Loring said that Truong’s more than 20 portraits of PHS alumni and staff also are a legacy for the school.

Loring said Truong portrayed each of her subjects – who also include PHS Assistant Principal Kathleen Marquis-Gerard – “in large format, combining her formidable and articulate monochromatic realism against dynamically gessoed backgrounds. This extensive series … is installed on an elevated gallery expanse in our first-floor wing. It is a remarkable tribute to individuality and diversity at Portland High School through many eras, seen through a modern lens.”

Since graduating from PHS in June, Truong is working on launching her own fine arts business and is available for portraits and commission. For more information, Truong can be reached at phskathyt@gmail.com

PHS Principal Sheila Jepson Asst.Principal Kathie Marquis-Gerard PHS Truong portrait 5PHS Truong portrait 11