These images are parts of a larger series, ""Thuy & "", where my semi-biographical character named ""Thuy"", travels in-between places to (re)connect with her cultural identities. Thuy & Rice is almost a love letter to my home culture and country. In this work, the use of rice is as a symbol of my cultural identity; and the semi-autobiographical protagonist, Thuy, explores a visceral love-hate relationship with this material. The rice nurtures yet shatters her simultaneously. The performative gesture of sculpting the rice ball reunites her with her Vietnamese roots, while the act of rubbing rice on the face is a representation of her agonizing efforts to fit into these expectations.Making this work brought me closer to home and my culture at a time when I could not physically come back to Vietnam. I believe this experience is relatable among immigrants and refugees. As a visual artist, this is my way of exemplify my immigrant experience at the moment of my life.

about the artist

As a Vietnamese-American female artist, Nguyen's primary artistic source material for the last decade has been an exploration into her history and experiences as an immigrant. Through her artmaking, Nguyen investigates her cultural and personal identity as well as her migration story through photography, video, installation and performance art. The conversations that stem from Nguyen's work, and by extension personal experiences, engage with shared anxieties and stressors that burden her community and family: the balance of cultural difference, trauma surrounding immigration, language accessibility and mastery, and the stereotype of the model minority. Nguyen's works are in the permanent collections of Amarillo Museum of Art, Tucson Museum of Art, Center for Photography at Woodstock among others. She currently lives and works in Tucson, Arizona.

Medium & Dimensions: 

Still #1 from Thuy & Rice video, archival pigment print mounted on dibond, 24” x36”, 2012

Still #2 from Thuy & Rice video, archival pigment print mounted on dibond, 24” x36”, 2012

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Martine Rancarani