In Translation

Date
2017
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Haverford College. Department of Fine Arts
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Language
eng
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Abstract
I paint messy. I paint when I am tired, agitated, relaxed, miserable, in despair. I paint utterly unprepared. The only things governing my brushstrokes, then, are fragments of my memory and the canvas before me. I paint to get out of myself. My identity consumes and voids itself. My desire to crawl out of my body led me on this journey, where colors become life force; shapes, meaning; and the canvas, the world. I am my art and it is I: I want to be more; to paint over my private trauma, diluting the roots laden with hatred and pain in dreamy clouds and vast ocean. I let go. Images stream out, sometimes with the pounding of a waterfall, others dripping down the canvas in a mixture of oil, paint, and Turpenoid. The act of painting becomes fights, drugs, anesthesia. I only feel safe then, in a bond with the world as real as the magnitude of my canvases. Words come out, too, cascading through the cracks of my mind. They hurt, like my mom’s occasional texts from another continent telling me to get enough sleep, my writings about visual arts only intelligible in my second language (but not my first), or my subliminal fear of splattering Vietnamese words onto my art. Tôi vẫn là người Việt. I-am-Viet-nam-ese. I pick up words again, like a child. I start stitching canvases, with Mom’s threads—untouched and hastily packed in my luggage the first time I came to the United States—with a needle from Andrea, a professor whose presence gave me life during my last Scandinavia winter. I write in scrabbly Vietnamese letters the elegiacs of my memories—of displacement, love, loss, and the world. In my endless stitching of images and texts, I seek to reconcile my past and my present. It is painful, liberating, rough, and messy. It is a work in translation.
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