Saturday, December 26, 2009

Recent Commissions

I had a rush of commissions in December.  All I have to say is, THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!  LOL  The images below are 4 of 5 pieces commissioned by Margo along with some thoughts on my work.

Commission for Margo
I have to do a lot of thinking about the meaning of my work.  It's never clear to me at the beginning.  There is certainly intended symbolism, but much of it is just about creating snip-its of narrative.  Imagine tearing a page out of a book and tearing that page into many pieces.  Individually my work is like a scrap from that page, offering fragments of text.  It doesn't quite give you the full story, just a hint or feeling.

I recall a phone conversation with one of my uncles.  We're not terribly close, but we have moments of great understanding.  He and I are both very open people and honest about our feelings, see-through like panes of glass...  He said to me, "We're the last ones, the last generation of our kind."  There was a sorrowful tone in his voice.  We were talking about how the generations revolve, as the older generation passes the younger one come to take their place.  He feels his children would not understand or be able to connect with his past.  They were both born in the US and have never needed to go through what he went through, hopefully they never will.  As a teenager he smuggled out of Vietnam after the war, leaving behind family, friends... everything.  I was born in '79, long after the Vietnam War (or the American War) had ended and things had stabilized.  But at least I was able to understand the experience of having to leave behind the only world you know for the chance at making a better life.  We were the ones to make that leap.  We have the privilege of knowing both worlds, our American life and our Vietnamese life.  By being able to compare these two worlds we also have the great misfortune of seeing our cultural identity slowly erode.  Gestures to uphold tradition are made on special occasions like wedding, birthdays and holidays, but it's never the same as how you remembered it.  Reading and writing (Chinese) is a fleeting skill and as each older generation passes more is forgotten until the past is no longer recognizable.

This isn't just a cultural thing... it's the dilemma of changing identities.  You miss who you were, but you know that's not who you are.

In Chinese culture the giving and receiving of tea with both hands is a show of respect and appreciation.  It's also a sign of hospitality and an extension of your goodwill.  I love that such a simple gesture can mean so much.

Commission for Margo
An offering to connect.  The red thread dangles, waiting to be picked up.  It is a passive gesture in that you can't force connections, the other side has to take hold of it too.  All you can do is be there when they're ready.  There are knots in the thread, I like to think of them as markers for significant events that define our lives.

Commission for Margo
Their bond is like the thread, precariously thin, but unbreakable.


victoria said...

wow fabulous
you don't sell them ?

Diem Chau said...

Thanks Victoria,
These were commissions so they're not for sale. But if you're interested you can contact me at

red road studio said...

a wonderful find! your work is unique, delicate and subtle - I'd like to place you on my blog!

Diem Chau said...

Thanks Jay!