Over winter break, third-year Washington State University veterinary student Winnie Mefford finished a digital art portrait for a friend who lost her beloved dog, Lucy, a pit bull mix with a goofy and sweet personality. Her hope for her friend—and for Mefford’s fellow classmates who have similar portraits—is that the art offers another perspective of their pets and a chance to remember them.
“I really like to see people happy and to capture the precious moments in their lives,” she said.
Mefford’s pet portraits will be on display through mid-May at the Animal Health Library, Wegner Hall 170, part of the WSU Libraries’ “Art in the Library” program. The twice‑yearly exhibit features animal-themed works, typically from artists with a connection to the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine. For more information, visit the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine Art in the Library website.
Close connection to art
Originally from Hong Kong, Mefford said she has always loved art. She took classes and started drawing while still in primary school. After working with acrylics, graphite and watercolor, she started making digital art about two years ago.
“Art is something I find very soothing, just like when I’m playing the piano,” she said. “It helps me to relax and to feel very accomplished when I practice different techniques and master them. Also, it helps me think outside of the box a little. Instead of being 100 percent technical and trying to get my paintings to look exactly like the reference photo, I can develop some more creativity, let go, and explore my own style.”
Art and her veterinary studies have something important in common, that it’s okay to be imperfect and to always try again, Mefford said.
“I’m always overcritical of my art and how it doesn’t look right, but I started focusing on what I could do to change it and make it look good,” she said. “So I start practicing certain techniques or drawing certain things multiple times to try and improve my skills. It’s the same with veterinary medicine. If certain techniques such as taking blood draws or practicing sutures aren’t done the best, then I find out which parts I need to improve and try again.”
Tight-knit community of students, professors
Mefford came to WSU after earning a bachelor’s degree in animal science from Brigham Young University-Idaho in Rexburg and completing two years at Utah State University in Logan as part of the Washington-Idaho-Montana-Utah (WIMU) Regional Program in Veterinary Medicine.
“I think what I find most valuable about the veterinary medicine program here at WSU is the hands-on experience,” she said. “The faculty try to provide as many different experiences for us to practice surgery, administer vaccines, and more to help us prepare for our careers. I also really value how much they promote teamwork here through communications class, diagnostic challenges, and a few other things. We’re all colleagues, and we try to help each other the best we can.”
A wife and mother of three young children, Mefford finds balancing her veterinary studies and family particularly difficult. Fortunately, WSU faculty work to help her manage her academic responsibilities while allowing Mefford to have a homelife.
“A lot of the professors and clinicians here are really supportive of students with families,” she said. “You can have a family and go to school at the same time. It’s really hard, but it’s possible.”