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Alumna makes name for herself in New York art world

Fine Art Alumna Amy Hughes Tuesday 7 February 2017

Alumna Amy Hughes has seen her career in the art world go from strength to strength since graduating from Hope with a Fine Art degree in 2013. Having recently completed an MA at the Academy of Art in New York, Amy splits her time between her Manhattan studio and teaching alongside acclaimed artist Monica Cook. Here she shares her story...

How did your time at Hope prepare you for your studies at the Academy of Art?

On a basic level it prepared me to study at a higher (master’s) level, but much more than that it had me engaging in critical thinking, and that was fundamental moving forward. Studying at the Academy then further built on that and mastering the skills and techniques associated with oil paint has meant that I now paint in a way that is in service of the concept. 

Much of my work over the years has explored aspects of feminism, such as the representation of the female body in art history and contemporary visual culture. At Hope, I wrote my 10,000-word dissertation on ‘Feminism and Cosmetic Surgery’, I received fantastic support from my advisor Dr Amelia Yeates, and I think the research and guidance I received really provided me with a great wealth of knowledge on feminist discourse.

Was it always your dream to study at the Academy of Art and live in New York? 

I moved to NYC because I knew that it was really at the forefront of the art world and where my work would be best received. The prestigious MFA program at the New York Academy of Art, which I had been following for many years, also drew me. It had really become my ‘dream art school’, so my time at Hope was largely spent preparing my portfolio for applying. It was also a way of being further exposed to the New York art scene, the Academy's events such as the Tribeca Ball sees prominent gallerists and celebrities, such as Naomi Watts and Robert DeNiro, coming into our studios and buying our work.

How would you describe your style and what inspires you?

I’d say my work falls into the figurative/contemporary realism categories. My work has usually been about the human body, I’m fascinated with it and how oil paint can literally become flesh. 

How does it feel to be working with renowned artist Monica Cook? 

It has been such an honour to assist such an incredible artist whose work I admire so much. To watch someone else teach and then assist myself - as much as you learn about teaching, you learn so much more about the subject itself.  

What advice would you have for art students at Hope/people considering studying for an art degree at Hope?

If you’re passionate about it, go for it! Everyone has their own ideas of what being a professional artist means, but I think there’s two things to remember post-graduation. Firstly, you make your work because you are obsessed with it and you feel you have to, and secondly, if you want to get your work out there, you have to have ample self-motivation and dedication - and if you do, it’ll all pay off.

What are the highlights from your career so far?

At my graduate show at Hope, I was awarded the Purchase Prize by Liverpool Women’s Hospital, where they now have one of my paintings in their private collection. I also received the HRH Scholarship, which is awarded to one student a year by patron to the New York Academy of Art HRH The Prince of Wales. I’ve sold my paintings to many collectors in NYC and the UK too. Notably I sold a painting at Sotheby’s NYC at an art auction called ‘Take Home a Nude’. I was also recently selected as a finalist for the Westminster Kennel Club Painting Competition – the US version of Crufts held at Madison Square Gardens - where the painting will be on show and made into postcards available for purchase. 

View Amy’s work at her website or via her Instagram account @amyvhughes.artist.

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