Artist: Tiffany Le
Media: Watercolor, Color Pencil, Ink, on Charcoal and Clayboard
Gallery: CSULB School of Arts, Dennis W Dutzi Gallery
Tiffany Le is a graduate student getting her MFA in Illustrations at CSU Long Beach. She went to Soka University for her undergrad in Liberal Studies, which she utilized to make her pieces informational and with a message that’s influenced by her culture and background. Growing up, she was very surrounded by her Vietnamese culture, she felt that she grew up in one of the largest Vietnamese communities. She feels that their tragic stories are left untold and that the generation following those that immigrated here are left in this place where they are excluded from Vietnamese experience and that history books don’t talk enough about it. This exhibit tries to explore her family’s experience during the Vietnam War and their life after the fall of Saigon.
The work is protected by acrylic sheets, since framing was hard because of her “unconventional sizes.” She most commonly uses watercolor pencils, acrylic, inks, charcoal. Her lines are undulating. Her work has texture due to her using watercolors which gives it a softer, real touch. Colors like red are used to show pain, like the face of the conflicted character, the red sky in the background of the boat traveling in water. There’s also red in the picture where a tiger is on a boat and the background is blurred out to put an emphasis on that. The pain is felt when these images are looked at, through them having to leave their homes and the journey that followed. There’s a progression in her works which portrays that negative emotions that followed the people leaving Vietnam.
Le’s family was victim to being the refugees that came to the US in order to escape danger. When I talked to her, and on her info sheet, she talks about how she’s at a constant battle with her identity because of the American culture she’s experiencing now and her Vietnamese culture in her background. She talked about being in school and wanting to know more about the Vietnam war bur her history teachers would always skim over it and briefly discuss it. She was conflicted because her “schools didn’t acknowledge it and she didn’t want to remind her parents of that time,” she had to resort to the internet to learn more about this area of her background. Her art work tries to tell people the story of the pain her family and others had to go through because of the war and the struggle to escape.
My mom came to the United States from Central America, El Salvador, around the time of their civil war and she was happy to have left because she was at risk but was hurt that she had to leave her whole family behind and was coerced into coming to the US with my dad. I’m not sure which journey is worse, crossing the ocean or crossing over land, but the danger is still there. My mom doesn’t really talk about that time which is why I feel like I can relate to Le. Her work reminded me of my mom and I feel like it can be related to any pain that people go through that is immensely life changing. Having to escape wars are problems that have always been around and are still around today, being able to relate and be compassionate towards the pain that others have felt is a sign of respect that people should try to achieve.