Artist: Tony Nguyen
Media: Mixed Media
Gallery: Dr. Maxine Merlino Gallery
About the Artist
Tony Nguyen is currently a CSULB student in the undergraduate metal-smith program. He hopes that this will lead to a career in prop making, and although he considers himself the black sheep of the family for choosing to major in art, he admits that his mother cried upon seeing his exhibition, and that it was a very emotional and proud moment for them. Tony is Vietnamese, and one of his featured artworks pays homage to the struggles of coming to America. A lot of his art is centered around his family, and the importance of their role in his life.
Upon walking into the gallery, you notice a lot of different pieces on top of pedestals in the middle of the room. Some of the pieces, such as a gumboil machine, feature copper plating and metal that is designed to give off the appearance of wood. Another piece features a female mannequin chest with a metal necklace wrapped around her neck, which features five bridges, which Tony told us had the names of his brothers engraved in the back of each of them. Other pieces include a sort of hand armor, as well as rings and necklaces throughout the exhibit, all of which are made of metals.
One of the most interesting pieces was the bridge necklace with Tony’s brother’s names on the back of them. Although most people viewing this pieces wouldn’t be able to know about the engravings unless they went ahead and flipped the small bridges around, we were informed about the secret carvings. The bridges serve as a representation of the “crossing,” into American way of life, and each bridge represents each brother’s personal struggle upon coming to this country, be it the language barrier, or choosing to be an art major, which isn’t seen as something common among vietnamese families.
I found Tony’s art work to be very interesting in the sense that it connected with his personal life story. As he said “art is more powerful when it gets more personal and connects with a story,” and not only does this connect solely to him, but it can serve as a relatable theme for anyone who has ever gel as though they too were a “black sheep,” or have ever struggled with finding themselves in a new environment, be it an entirely new country, or even a new school environment which we all experienced at some point.