Monday, May 28, 2007

StoryLINES at artSPACE@16 in Malden


If you haven't been to http://artspaceat16.com/currentexhibition.htm's new show, go see it before it closes on June 9th. It features sculptures by Pamela Sheridan, paintings by Sam Tan, and photography by Brian Doan.

I stopped by this show for the first time two Thursdays ago and was immensely moved by Brian Doan's large format photographs of Vietnamese Americans in his series Dreamland, particularly one of a Vietnamese American young man in a U.S. Army uniform. This young man is now deployed in Iraq. Blurred in the background of this portrait is a movie poster of Apocalpyse Now.

I felt such strong emotions when I looked at this photograph because Asian Americans always have the need to prove to the rest of America that we are Americans, and the Vietnamese American soldier's portrait is great proof. And of course, the allusion to the Vietnam War just a few decades ago reminds us how once again America is "fighting for democracy" today, but it is just that much more poignant that this young Vietnamese American man, whose parents probably came to the U.S. as refugees from the Vietnam War, is now risking his life for the U.S. government for another war.

Upon browsing through his website and seeing more samples of his work, it struck me how Brian's subjects all display a sense of their own dignity. The rarity of any Asian Americans portrayed with dignity in photographs is astounding. Asian American women are often stereotyped as sex objects in commercial photographs, and Asian American men are either ignored, or portrayed as effeminates. And sadly, oftentimes Asian Americans themselves pertetuate and reinforce such stereotypes. Brian's work is very important to the whole Asian American community and in getting a voice out to the larger American society, not just Vietnamese Americans.

I returned to artSPACE@16 to meet Brian during the artist talk on May, 24th. Brian was an engineer who decided to become a full-time artist, to the dismay of his parents and others around him. Vietnamese immigrant parents, like Chinese immigrant parents, all wish for their kids to have a steady job that earns a lot of money.

Pam Sheridan was not an abstract artist until she was diagnosed with cancer (from which she is now recovered fortunately). Here, on the left, you can see details from one of her sculptures Paradox at artSPACE. The sculpture is about 5 feet in height and is made entirely of intricately woven barbed wires, colored threads and painted spherical shapes.

I had come across Sam Tan's paintings about a year ago in Arlington. His works are often characterized by two juxtaposing patterns and very bright, often complementary colors. In this current show (shown on right), his paintings from the Mindful Landscapes series employ cadmium orange and cobalt teal acrylic paints -- ultra intense, complementary colors in their pure forms. Sam wove them into webs of abstract shapes that remind the viewers of arteries and organs and their own mortality.

Sand T has once again put together another extraordinary show.

2 comments:

Tom said...
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Pigmentia said...
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