Spring 2022 Featured Artist
Approaching 50, I am looking at the world through the lens of preservation: land, culture, and methods for making things that distinguish humans from beasts. I don't' consider myself an artist by conventional definition, though crafting is very much a part of my family's heritage. One side of the family belongs to a weaving and embroidery village while the other side has had many generations of woodcarving for pagoda building. Both served dynastic societies as master craftsmen for hundreds of years. I’m interested in methods of making which tell stories and glorify both the human labor as well as natural materials that allow an object to come into being. My own work draws on ancient South-East Asian techniques but fuses modern designs, forms, and functions. My family's heritage in pagoda building for many generations was the impetus for REINCARNATED SOLES-- the shoe collection I create as a tribute to my great-grandmother who supported our ancient carving village from collapsing after the Vietnam War.
In 2016 I founded the Design Lab which hosts artists and designers the opportunity to collaborate and create with indigenous and traditional craftspeople in South East Asia. The Lab allows traditional makers to learn how to make with a global eye for design from western artists. Conversely, western artists are afforded a chance to re-learn design from the perspective of improved techniques through limited resources. Pre-COVID, I spend half my time in New York designing and speaking about the importance of cultural economy. The rest of my time, I spent on the family's ancestral orchard in Vietnam where I did much of my carving from downed trees and re-learning how to weave with a backstrap loom. I hope to soon merge the softness of textile craft with the sturdiness of woodcraft to emerge with something that will finally illustrate the Eastern and Western characteristics of my creative being.
Featured art by LanVy Nguyen