Naugatuck student’s powerful art displayed at Waterbury Hospital

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By Andreas Yilma Citizens News

NAUGATUCK — Naugatuck High School student Tiffany Nguyen, whose class artwork focuses on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on nurses, now has her art displayed at Waterbury Hospital after captivating peers and staff at the school.

“Tiffany’s paintings struck our hearts here at NHS for their emphatic, relevant content and technical expertise,” NHS art teacher Hama Pertab said. “Her paintings show detail, evidence of research, planning and investigation on the emotional impact of the pandemic on the essential workers – nurses.”

Nguyen, a senior, earned the highest score for her AP Collegeboard Art portfolio series, “Impact of the Pandemic on Nurses,” for outstanding use of materials, including paint and techniques, and visual presentation of ideas. Her 15-piece exhibit will be displayed in the hospital’s main-floor art corridor through January, Pertab said.

“In times of crisis, which can occur at any moment, nurses are the first line of defense. They sometimes have to give up their life and well-being to ensure the care for others is provided first,” Nguyen said. “It’s no guarantee when they are able to receive breaks or when they are able to stop. It’s physically draining to work for long hours and it’s also mentally exhausting to see so many tragedies. They have to go through so much effort and countless days without any sleep and stress, so those who were impacted are able to heal and survive.”

Lauresha Xhihani, director of communications and marketing for Waterbury Hospital, said the pandemic has been a great challenge for health care workers and these paintings captured their resilience.

“Even as the artwork was being hung, our colleagues would stop by to comment on how moving the work is and how they saw themselves reflected in each painting,” Xhihani said.

Traci Farina, a patient transport associate at Waterbury Hospital, said the artwork is beautiful and Nguyen did an awesome job.

“It’s amazing. Everybody has been commenting on them. You can look at it and you just feel what the photos are implementing,” Farina said. “It’s so real. We all stop and just look at them. She does an amazing job.”

Nguyen worked on her artwork for about eight months after choosing her topic of interest. The portfolio was due in the first week of May.

Pertab noted Nguyen’s work is especially striking because of how she problem-solved compositions of paint, color and figures on canvas to capture the nuances of what goes on behind the scenes for health care workers.

“(Nguyen) shows us that health care workers, too, have their moments of struggle. Her work echoes that we are all really in this together – the stress, the pressure, the isolation, the need for support, etc.,” Pertab said. “During class critiques, her peers said that her work brought them ‘chills.’ They found every piece powerful in their own way.”

Xhihani said Nguyen’s artwork is impactful and lifelike.

“It seems like she was inside the building during the worst of times, and captured the incredible resilience and caring of our nurses and colleagues,” Xhihani said.

Nguyen, who plans to be a physician, said she admires nurses and anyone else working in the medical field.

“Not enough can be represented through portraits, however,” she said. “I wish those who see my artwork can understand just how much devotion and hardship these heroes and heroines have to undergo.”