Art as Visual Poetry

August 26, 2011 @ 8:00 pm – November 5, 2011 @ 6:00 pm

Listen to the Little Saigon Radio interview on 8/24/11 with radio host Ngoc An, VAALA Executive Director Ysa Le, curator Thuy N. D. Tran and artist Tammy Nguyen

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Marvelous Metaphors: Art as Visual Poetry

An exhibition of contemporary art that invites explorations into visual metaphors and celebrates the poetics of interpretation.

Trinh Mai | Christine Nguyen | Tammy Nguyen | Trinh Ponce | Dao Strom | Van Tran

View the Catalog Online (FREE)

Opening Reception: Friday, August 26, 7 – 10 pm
Exhibition dates: August 26 – November 5, 2011

Gallery Hours: Saturday & Sunday 12 – 5pm, and by appointment; free admission

VAALA Cultural Center: 1600 North Broadway, first floor, Santa Ana, California 92706 | | 714.893.6145

The Vietnamese American Arts and Letters Association (VAALA) is delighted to announce the opening of Marvelous Metaphors: Art as Visual Poetry, guest curated by Thuy N. D. Tran and showcasing recent works by artists Trinh Mai, Christine Nguyen, Tammy Nguyen, Trinh Ponce, Dao Strom and Van Tran. Marvelous Metaphors marks an important milestone for the VAALA Cultural Center as the organization completes its newest exhibition space. The opening reception presents a lineup of musical performances by Miniature Houses, Whalesound and Sea Moon and is free to the public. Additional programming will be offered throughout the duration of the exhibition, including art talks, a panel discussion on poetry and curatorial walk-throughs.

Marvelous Metaphors: Art as Visual Poetry encourages audiences to read visual art in the same way as poetry—through the contemplation of visual metaphors that play with interpretive possibilities. Featuring new faces to VAALA, Marvelous Metaphors offers a wide array of artistic media including photo-works, paintings on canvas, fiber arts, ceramics, inks on paper, drawings, book-art, sculptures and other mixed media. The artists selected for this exhibition are very diverse in subjectivity and technical approach; however what they all share in common are works that invite viewers to delve into the many overlays of meaning.

Credit Trinh Mai Trinh Mai’s current work investigates her heritage by exploring traditional imagery and symbolism. Through painting, she has been able to gain a deeper understanding of the joys and hardships experienced by her family and the Vietnamese American community. Painting is also a means for her to connect with the subconscious and the spiritual to make the intangible tangible and the unseen visible; and, perhaps most importantly, to find comfort. Born in Harrisburg, Penn., and raised by an artistic and supportive family of musicians, composers, architects, designers and poets, Trinh currently resides in San Jose, Calif.. She holds a BFA from San Jose State University and has spent time at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Credit Christine Nguyen Christine Nguyen’s work draws upon the imagery of science but is not limited to technologies of the present. It imagines that the depths of the ocean reach into outer space, that through an organic prism, vision can fluctuate between the micro- and macroscopic. Christine has been developing a personal cosmology in which commonalities among species, forms, and environment become visible and expressive, suggesting past narratives and possible futures. The forms and environs in her work sometimes migrate into new pieces, establishing new systems. There are no waste materials in these worlds: vision is a renewable resource. Currently residing in Los Angeles, Christine received her BFA from California State University, Long Beach and MFA from the University of California, Irvine. Her work has been featured at the Armand Hammer Museum (Project), Michael Kohn Gallery, Andrewshire Gallery, and Sam Lee Gallery in Los Angeles, and been included in group exhibitions at the Kunsthalle zu Kiel, Kiel, Germany; Laguna Beach Art Museum, Laguna Beach, Calif.; 4-F Gallery, Los Angeles, PH Gallery, New York; San Art, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; Sprueth Magers Projekte, Munich, Germany; and 10 Chancery Lane Gallery, Hong Kong.

Credit Tammy Nguyen Tammy Nguyen explores a variety of mediums in her practice—oil painting, drawing, bookmaking, embroidery, etc. She is intrigued with ideas of traditionalism in contemporary culture, inspired by calligraphy in the Middle East and Asia, and humored by absurdity. Recently, Tammy has been investigating ideas of power through endurance combined with combat as a moment of decision making. As such, many of her forms are taken from different “still shots” in martial arts and traditional portraits of pastime royalty. The exploration, and arguably moment of sheer excitement, is when she takes these themes and puts them through different material processes. It is from the process of working with many materials that her subject matter evolves—drawings informing sculptures, and sculptures informing paintings. Tammy Nguyen was born in San Francisco and received her BFA from the Cooper Union School of Art in New York City. In 2007, she moved to Vietnam on a Fulbright grant to study lacquer painting. She currently resides in New Haven, Conn. where she is an MFA candidate at the Yale School of Art.

Credit Trinh PonceSometimes abstract and fluid in form, Trinh Ponce’s meticulously hand-woven pieces can also be structural and literal. Using natural materials, she creates metaphorical shapes that force viewers to make their own interpretations, and in this process they form an emotional connection with the artwork. Born in Vietnam, Trinh and her family relocated to the United States in 1987. While studying graphic design at California State University, Long Beach, she developed an interest in fiber arts. In 2003 she graduated with a BFA degree in fiber arts and 3D design. Trinh currently lives and practices in Southern California.

Dao Strom Dao Strom is a writer of books and songs. She was born in Saigon, Vietnam and grew up in the Sierra Nevada foothills of Northern California. She has lived in New York City, San Francisco, Iowa City, Austin, Juneau, and now calls Portland, Oregon home. She holds an MFA from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a BA in Film Production from San Francisco State University.

Van Tran believes that the arts have the capacity to embed itself within a broader social realm as current social conditions render a new kind of creative practice: research. Her relationship with the arts, often treated with reflection and exploration, is one that she envisions to be an intersecting vehicle between the informal and the contemporary. There is something to be said about the connections we make – both socially and spatially – as we move in our day-to-day activity. Van’s disparate attempts at finding these connections form the bulk of her recent experiential research. The results have been displayed in various iterations of mapping, diagramming, cataloguing, and informal interventions that are often performative and participatory. Van received her BA in visual art – Studio with Honors at the University of California, San Diego. Besides artmaking, she has also worked as a writer and teaching artist for various non-profit arts organizations. She is currently pursuing her MFA in public and social practice at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Calif.

About the Curator:

Thuy N. D. Tran is a doctoral candidate in the Department of History of Art and Architecture at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her extensive experience in community art activism and museum work has provided her opportunities to take fresh approaches to the often passive practice of art history. Her teaching philosophy embraces interdisciplinary perspectives and her research focuses on primary sources as its inspiration. Thuy received her MA in art history from Arizona State University and her BA in art history from the University of California, Los Angeles with dual minors in cultural anthropology and museum studies.

About VAALA:

Founded in 1991 by a group of Vietnamese American journalists, artists and friends, Vietnamese American Arts & Letters Association (VAALA) is a community-based, 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization. VAALA has organized numerous cultural events such as art exhibitions, book fairs, book signings, recitals, plays, lectures, the biennial Vietnamese International Film Festival (ViFF), the biennial Cinema Symposium, the annual Children’s Moon Festival Art Contest and year-long art and music classes. VAALA recently developed smART Program, which offers free art workshops for non-profit youth organizations in the Orange County and Los Angeles areas.