Geneseo's Unexpected Artists: Minhang Huynh

  Catherine McWilliamsArtist/Machine Operator Minhang Huynh ‘93 spends her weekday

afternoons in the Welles Hall Duplicating Center, slicing paper and helping students to make their visions for custom posters and banners come to life.

Huynh uses her work in the Duplicating Center to finance her passion: painting icons, or images of religious figures. She paints them using egg tempera, an extremely complex medium requiring intense skill, patience and dexterity.

The traditional icon painting technique that Huynh practices has 22 steps and can take years to complete, but she said that her Catholic faith motivates her to see beyond what others see.

“When you live a spiritual life and when you have faith, it gives you the confidence and the strength,” she said. “The strength, it comes from within, not without.”

Born in Vietnam, Huynh was raised by foster parents and moved to the United States when she was 17. She followed her brother and three sisters to Geneseo to attend college, all of them majoring in mathematics.

Huynh soon found a passion for making art as a Geneseo student, adding a studio art major. She fell under the mentorship of professor of studio art Carl Shanahan as well as adjunct lecturer of English, latin and humanities Wes Kennison and Distinguished Teaching Professor of Mathematics Gary Towsley, who encouraged her to pursue her artistic talents.

Soon after completing her degree, Huynh traveled to Italy and studied with a Sienese egg tempera master, Otello Kehiti. She trained by copying his masterworks and the work of other famous artists.

When she returned from Italy, Huynh said she had a religious conversion. She was raised Buddhist but said that she felt the presence of God and a need to explore her faith.

Huynh visited the Abbey of the Genesee in Piffard, N.Y., where she still attends daily mass, and met the man whom she now calls her spiritual mentor, Abbot John Eudes Bamberger.

After studying Western-style egg tempera in Italy, she had the opportunity to study non-Western egg tempera with Russian masters in their Binghamton. studio. Huynh said Bamberger motivated her to make the difficult drives there on weekends for two years to commit herself to their craft.

Huynh sells images of her icons at the Abbey of Genesee and has painted icons for Geneseo churches as well as the Rochester Institute of Technology and individual patrons.u