How did you get started doing what you do?
When I was really young, my dad used to draw pictures for me and I used to fly the drawings around the house pretending they were real. Also, I used to take my second-hand toys, tape them up, draw on them, and pretend they were different toys. This engagement with drawing and reconfiguration was my start with art.
How would you describe your creative style?
My work is a spontaneous labyrinth soaked in color. There are layers of colors, patterns, and organic shapes that tangle together a personal narrative which is also trying to reach out to understand a larger cultural history.
What’s your inspiration?
There is a quote from an experimental filmmaker, Will Hindle, that I find inspiring: “We discover to what extent our soul partakes of the constant creation of the world.”
How long does it typically take for you to finish a piece?
A piece is really never done and can be reworked and reconfigured an infinite amount of times.
How do you keep motivated?
My daughter keeps me going. I make art so I can somehow relate to her. I want to share my life with her and our family history, which in itself can be abstract. Hopefully, my paintings serve as some sort of insight into how complicated I can be at times.
How would you say your surroundings have influenced your work?
There’s a stream that runs through my backyard. The sound of the constant movement of the stream has made me want to depict movement and fluidity. Also, I have been reading about the people of Central Vietnam, the Montagnards, and their acts of resistance against French colonists in the 1950’s. A village leader, Sam Bram, proclaimed that his daughter gave birth to the Python God. Sam Bram got people of the village to drink “magic water,” in which the python lived in and claimed the water would make the village troops invincible to French bullets. This has spurred an ongoing series of paintings.
What, if anything, would you tell your younger self?
It doesn’t matter because I wouldn’t listen to my older self anyway.
Any words of wisdom to aspiring artists who want to pursue a similar career?
Work with people that you like. Fuck everybody else.
What art supplies do you use?
I use acrylics or any latex based paint. Often times I paint on wood that I find. I have been using discarded drawers from the Hearst Anthropology Museum at the University of California, Berkeley. The drawers were used to house artifacts, some say stolen, from other cultures.
What’s your process like?
My work is at its heart identity based. I use colors that remind me of my childhood. Video games and comics make up my color palette. Interlaced with this innocent nostalgia are notions of conflict. A key component of my identity is being a first generation Vietnamese American. My parents came to America after the Vietnam War and I have many questions about my family’s origins. These questions manifest into tension and contemplation. The combination of all these things and more constitute my process of making.