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Changing Identity: Women Artists from Vietnam installation view

Installation view of Changing Identity: Women Artists from Vietnam

Changing Identity:  Recent Works by Women Artists from Vietnam

Monday, Aug. 25 through Saturday, Oct. 4.

Changing Identity provides an opportunity to see Vietnam through the eyes of women artists offering unique perspectives on their homeland and their gender roles in society.  The exhibition explores what it means to be a woman living in Vietnam today and brings to light a viewpoint often marginalized in Vietnamese culture. Previously overlooked by the international art world, the 10 artists featured in Changing Identity challenge their traditional roles through drawing, painting, photography, performance, sculpture, and video.

To be a woman, an artist and Vietnamese is, in the words of filmmaker and scholar Trinh T. Minh-Ha, a “triple bind.” They are restricted not only in their own culture, which presupposes that women are to remain devoted to their fathers, husbands and sons, but also by the West’s perceptions of Vietnamese women as victims of war and subjects of the male gaze made familiar by such icons as Miss Saigon and the servant girl in the film A Scent of Green Papaya.

For the past two decades, since Vietnam opened its doors to the West, a booming art business has brought economic prosperity to many of the country’s artists.  Most of this success, however, seems to have been bestowed upon men. Today, in light of economic changes sweeping over the country in the era of globalization, a younger generation of women find themselves in a position to critique prevailing norms and to question the status quo. The artists in Changing Identity are such women: independent and complex, their outlook on Vietnamese society displayed in their artwork is challenging and honest.

Nora Taylor, Ph.D., curator for the exhibition, is Alsdorf Professor of South and Southeast Asian Art at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago specializing in modern Vietnamese art. In 2004-05, she was a Fulbright Scholar in Hanoi, Vietnam conducting research on Vietnamese visual culture in the era of globalization. She has written for many publications and lectured on this topic throughout the world.

A full-color catalogue of the same name accompanies Changing Identity: Recent Works by Women Artists from Vietnam.

Changing Identity is toured by International Arts & Artists in Washington, D.C., a non-profit arts service organization dedicated to increasing cross-cultural understanding and exposure to the arts internationally, through exhibitions, programs and services to artists, arts institutions and the public. It is supported in part by the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation and the Henry Luce Foundation. The educational program is supported by a grant from the Ford Foundation, Hanoi Office, and fiscally administered by the Institute of International Education.

A series of lectures and events will be held at Holy Cross in conjunction with the gallery exhibition.  All events are free and open to the public.

Thursday, Sept. 4, 4:30 – 5:30 p.m., Rehm Library
Talk by Ann Marie Leshkowich, associate professor of anthropology at the College of the Holy Cross; Finances, Family, Fashion, and Fitness: The Changing Lives of Urban Middle-Class Vietnamese Women.

Thursday, Sept. 11, 5 – 6 p.m., Rehm Library
Talk by Ken MacLean, assistant professor of international development and social change at Clark University; The Rehabilitation of an Uncomfortable Past: Remembering the Everyday in Vietnam During the Subsidy Period (1975-1986).

Thursday, Sept. 18, 4:30 – 6 p.m. Kimball Hall, Seelos Theatre
Talk by the curator of Changing Identity, Nora Taylor, professor and Alsdorf Professor of South and Southeast Asian Art at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.; Changing Identity: Reflections on Women in Vietnamese Art History, followed by a conversation with artist Ly Tran Quynh Giang.

Thursday, Sept. 18, 6 – 7 p.m., Cantor Art Gallery
Reception honoring the curator, Nora Taylor, and artist Ly Tran Quynh Giang.

Monday, Sept. 22, 5 – 6 p.m., Rehm Library
Talk by Hue-Tam Ho Tai, Kenneth T. Young Professor of Sino-Vietnamese History at Harvard University; From Sheltered Daughter to Vietnam’s First Female Political Prisoner: Nguyen Trung Nguyet (1909-1976).

Thursday, Sept. 25, 4:30 – 6 p.m. Rehm Library
Talk by Karen Gottschang Turner, professor of history at the College of the Holy Cross; Into the Light: Representing Vietnamese Women’s Struggles. To be followed by a film showing: Hidden Warriors: Women on the Ho Chi Minh Trail by Turner and Hanoi-based journalist Phan Thanh Hao.

Thursday, Oct. 2, 4:30 – 5:30 p.m., Cantor Art Gallery
Talk by Diane Niblack Fox, visiting assistant professor of history and anthropology at the College of the Holy Cross; Speaking with Women in Vietnam on the Consequences of War – Writing Against Silence and Forgetting.

Performance postponed until the spring
Performance by the Phong Nguyen Ensemble and master musicians from Vietnam, Three Rivers One Source: A Panorama of Vietnamese Music and Dance. The performance will also include a culinary arts demonstration. Presented by The Institute for Vietnamese Music (IVM-Ohio) and The Institute for Vietnamese Culture and Education (IVCE – New York).