Monica Pham, a graduate of West Windsor-Plainsboro High School, Class of 2000, is a lawyer by day and an artist at night — literally. For Pham burning the midnight oil to create jewelry, paintings, and pottery feeds her creative side. Pham has a shared art exhibit with Andy Boswell, a ceramic artist, at Dynasty Arts Gallery in Princeton from Friday to Sunday, January 27 to 29. There is a reception on Saturday, January 28, from 6 to 9 p.m.
“Inspiration comes from all different places and in all different forms,” says Pham. She acquires beads from around the world and her favorite pieces include jade, tiger’s eye, lapis, glass, wood, malachite, quartz, and jasper. Her collections have fun names like Cherry Berry, Gummy Yummy, and Laffy Taffy. Visit www.monicandyjewelry.com for photos and more information.
Pham earned her bachelor’s degree from Cornell University, majoring in both human development (with an emphasis on neurological chemistry) and nutritional science (with an emphasis on maternal nutrition and its effect on fetal brain development). She began her law studies at Franklin Pierce School of Law in New Hampshire, but took some time off in 2007 to pursue her art and arrange a transfer to a law school closer to New York City to have access to more museums, galleries, and auction houses.
Pham had an exhibit in East Windsor in 2007 featuring paintings in oil, acrylic, and watercolor, as well as some pottery. “This will be my first exhibition and the first time I’ve seen myself as an artist, rather than a law student or a neurobiology major, mathematician, or other left-brained activity,” said Pham for a story in The News, November 2, 2007. “I am consistently trying to reconcile my left and right brain’s desires and I think this art show will be an indulgence of my creative passions.”
Since college Pham worked with the general counsel of the Department of Veterans Affairs in Washington, D.C., where she worked to insure that veterans received benefits and recognition for their service. Combining her passion for law and art she began to appreciate the need for protection of cultural property when she worked at Christie’s Auction House in the trusts, estates, and appraisals department. She also began to realize how art functions as a reflection of society and how artifacts and rare treasured pieces reflect a people’s culture.
She has since graduated from Hofstra University School of Law where she focused on protecting both consumers and auction houses from fraudulent paintings. She also investigated holocaust restitution — especially in retrieving paintings stolen by the Nazis. During her time at Hofstra, she founded the Art Law and Culture Society and provided counsel to auction houses, galleries, museums, and private artists. Pham organized Hofstra’s first Art Law Symposium with a focus on various issues where art and law intersected, such as authentication and copyrights.
She is project coordinator with the Lawyers’ Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation, a not-for-profit organization that fosters the stewardship of objects, places, and traditions. She volunteers at the Legal Services of New Jersey and is the managing editor for the American Society for International Law’s Cultural Heritage Arts Review.
Born in Michigan, she moved with her family to Plainsboro when she was two. Her family is mostly Buddhist and her family roots are in Vietnam. Relatives, many of them part of the mass exodus from Vietnam, escaped in the late 1960s and ’70s. Some of her relatives were known as the “boat people.”
Her parents, Vietnamese refugees, are both engineers with MBAs. Her father, Tinh, works for Johnson & Johnson now and Pham reports that he “is happy with his 15-minute commute to New Brunswick after years of commuting to New York City.” Her mother, SueAnne, is retired from McGraw Hill. Her brother, Ryan, a graduate of High School South, Class of 2004, graduated from Boston University in 2009, and is an associate at KPMG in Boston.
Andrew Boswell, a believer in functionality, has created non-toxic works that are microwave, dishwasher, and oven safe. “It is made to be used on a daily basis,” he says on his website www.sonofapotter.com. He has created teapots, mugs, sugar and creamer sets, and more. His father, Ray Boswell, is a sculptor and potter. His mother, Theresa Bowell, is a jeweler and gallery owner. He studied ceramics at the Rochester Institute of Technology, where he learned to turn his interest in clay into a profession. He lives in Sugar Loaf, New York, and works with his father at the Bostree Pottery Studio.
“I believe objects help us customize the space we live in,” Boswell says on his website. “They allow for a moment of peace, introduce a small amount of calm and help us identify home. They allow us to intimately express ourselves in our most personal spaces. Sometimes peace is having a cup of tea in your favorite mug after a long day of work. Sometimes joy is having a dinner party with your closest friends. Beautiful objects can facilitate a beautiful world.”
Pham continues to paint in oil, acrylic, and watercolor. “Arts and crafts have always been an active procrastination for me — I would make earrings to avoid reading about New York civil procedure in law school,” says Pham on her website.
Art Exhibit, Dynasty Arts Gallery, 20 Nassau Street, Princeton. Friday to Sunday, January 27 to 29. “A Sweet Taste of Porcelain Ceramics” by Andy Boswell and jewelry by Monica Pham. Reception on Saturday, January 28, from 6 to 9 p.m. On view to Sunday, January 29. 609-688-9388.