As noted in last Thursday’s post, VAALA will soon be hosting a new exhibition titled “Marvelous Metaphors: Art as Visual Poetry” to encourage audiences to experience art as they would poetry. One of the artists to be featured at the exhibition, Trinh Mai, has kindly shared with VTP her artist’s statement. The final art product is itself a matter of contemplation, but knowing an artist’s process, her inspiration and values, always adds extra layers of meaning and enjoyment to the finished work. Please check out Trinh Mai’s statement below to see how her Vietnamese roots seep into her creative process, and then be sure to support VAALA over at Kickstarter after that!
The Stories We Share, The Lessons We Learn
Inspired by the need to excavate my Vietnamese roots, I began a series of intimate little paintings, striving to document my family history. Upon the pages of my late great aunt’s prayer book, I incorporated family photos and imagery drawn from both personal memories and the memories of various family members.
From childhood pastimes of cricket-fighting to our fight for Freedom. From memories of folding paper boats and sending them down the rain-soaked streets of Saigon to our voyage as boat people. From my youngest auntie’s memory of playing house in Grandmother and Grandfather’s front yard to my great grandparents building a house in their backyard, which housed the many orphans who had been abandoned on their doorstep. In my aim to preserve family history, I have found both the day-to-day memories as equally important as the life-changing experiences and the significant struggles.
What began as a way to honor my family and more deeply grasp the perspectives of my predecessors grew into a deeper meditation to gain a better sense of family.
I realized that the older we grow, the childlike desire to grow together somehow becomes compromised as we find ourselves facing the personal battles that sometimes need to be fought alone in order for us to learn how to harness our intrinsic Strength. This need to discover our own capabilities often means separation from the family unit, whether this separation is caused by emotional, mental, and geographical distances, or the need to make peace with our Selves in our own time and in our own space.
Spending countless hours staring at their photographs and into the eyes of my loved ones stirred up a profound Love for each individual one – that Love in which we have found tremendous strength, but sometimes forget about or even choose to ignore. We know of a love that is patient and kind. A love that is not proud nor is self-seeking. A love that is not easily provoked, nor keeps a record of wrong. A love that thinketh no evil, but rejoiceth in the Truth. A love that beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things… (Corinthians 13:4)
I found myself yearning to smooth over my relationships with this Love, the only substance that could ignite such a humbling desire to apologize to others for my own faults and forgive others for theirs. And so I began writing letters to various ones, apologizing to some, reaching out to those from whom I have turned away, and rekindling the love which had almost been extinguished by the crippling remnants of disappointment, anger, entitlement, judgment and pride.
What had intended to be a series of works to share our family’s history evolved into a method for personal healing, exciting the desire to alleviate the burden that comes from wounded relationships within the family.
This process has allowed me to be more thoughtful of the families who have supported one another as well as the families who have yet to discover the love inherent within them, and more mindful of the families who recognize that love is thicker than blood, and that blood is thicker than anger.
Our time here is limited. Let us together mend these wounds, so that we can continue growing together in Peace.