June 5, 2008
Metropolitan State University of Denver
Art exhibit explores roles of Vietnamese women
The first major exhibition by contemporary Vietnamese women artists in the United States runs June 5-Aug. 2, 2008 at the Metropolitan State College of Denver Center for Visual Art.
Changing Identity: Recent Works by Women Artists from Vietnam provides an opportunity to see Vietnam through the eyes of women artists offering unique perspectives on their homeland and their gender roles in society.
Dinh Thi Tham Poong, Gardens of Eden, 2004, watercolor on rice paper. Courtesy of Raquelle Azran Vietnamese Contemporary
“This exhibition has a goal of educating the West about the lives of specifically 11 Vietnamese women,” says Cecily Cullen, CVA assistant director and curator. “It is important to CVA because of the multicultural as well as contemporary nature. The uniqueness of the exhibition was also appealing to us.”
Previously overlooked by the international art world, the 11 artists featured in Changing Identity challenge their traditional roles through drawing, painting, photography, performance, sculpture, and video.
For the past two decades, since Vietnam opened its doors to the West, a booming art business has brought economic prosperity to many of the country’s artists. Most of this success, however, seems to have been bestowed upon men according to exhibit curator Dr. Nora Taylor.
“Many of the paintings such as those in the show would only sell for a few thousand dollars, and some artists, mostly male, have sold hundreds which makes them millionaires in a country where the average salary is $50 a month.
Phuong M. Do, Self in Street, 1998, silver gelatin print. Courtesy of Phuong M. Do.
“Women have not enjoyed as much of this success because they have to take care of their families and hold jobs. They can't spend as much time with their art and don't try to sell as much as the men. So there has been an imbalance in terms of fame, success and visibility in the art world.”
The exhibit is on a two-year run in the United States, with the CVA being the only stop in Colorado.
There have been some dynamic responses, says Taylor, who is also professor and Alsdorf Endowed Chair of Southeast Asian Art at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, specializing in modern Vietnamese art.
“The most common response from everyone in the U.S. has been that it shows a different view of Vietnam,” says Taylor. “On the part of the Vietnamese people, the response is that it does not emphasize the political aspects of the nation of Vietnam and focuses on people.”
Additionally, she says “men in Vietnam have called the show feminist, but women find it very gratifying to be seen separately from men. Many don't agree that it is feminist because it does not criticize men. It is about women as individuals and not about ideas.”
For more information about the exhibit, visit http://www.MetroStateCVA.org .
Note: Lecture with exhibition curator Nora Taylor, Ph.D. and artist Nguyen Bach Dan - June 5, 6:30 pm Opening reception June 5, 7:30-9 p.m. The lecture and reception are free and open to the public.
CVA address: 1734 Wazee St., Denver