Six Vietnamese artists residing in Western Washington showcase what intergenerational healing means to them. Come enjoy cà phê at Hello Em and Little Saigon Creative, while browsing the paintings, dance film, ceramics, and poetry.
Friends of Little Saigon presents Tying the Threads: An Exhibit on Intergenerational Healing. It is their fourth exhibit at the Little Saigon Creative. This art gallery highlights the Vietnamese community’s resilience to heal from trauma that spans generations, from parents and grandparents who fled the Việt Nam War (1954-1975) to American-born children disconnected from their cultural identity.
Tai Vugia’s “Moonfishing” is a watercolor piece with a limited color palette of greens, blues, and yellows. A figure, camping in the Pacific Northwest, looks up at a banyan tree and some koi fish flying across the moon. All three objects in that sky are what is known as Vugia’s and his father’s “cultural anchors,” kept at a distance but remains a part of their Vietnamese heritage. “In times when history and culture carry with them an undercurrent of trauma, a distancing can be important, even necessary, for survival and healing,” Vugia states.
Healing is a slow process, and one can grow impatient to lift off all of that burden in order to finally reach a sense of peace. However, Vugia’s art piece is a reminder that healing does not have to be pursued immediately. There are times when you need to put your own health first before you attempt to break the cycle of trauma that exists within your family’s experiences.
Cindy Anh Thư Nguyễn’s “The Golden Sao La” is inspired by Vietnamese folktales, like the story of a golden ox who is only found by people who are meant to see it. Sitting on the white walls are four black panels, which contain images of wildlife in bold, metallic acrylic paint. Nguyễn describes it as “a fictional narrative that represents my journey of seeking connection to the land of my ancestors.”
There is more than just animals, forests, and water on this land, as seen in Nguyễn’s art piece. Passing throughout the land of her ancestors are folktales being shaped by different generations. These stories, which contain shared values, significant traditions, and forever-remembered history, are being exchanged within a community as a way to heal and connect.
Caitlin Truong’s “Wave” takes inspiration from the bodies of water that run through and around Việt Nam, which is essential for Vietnamese people’s economic survival and everyday life activities. At the top of the ceramic vase is a bubbly texture of sea foam. Wrapping around the vase are indented curves similar to wave ripples. According to Truong, the “wind represent[s] traumatic experiences and the wave crashing on the top of the vase represent[s] reactions to trauma.”
Truong compares the Vietnamese community to water, which are both adaptable and resilient in times of distress. This blue and white vase sits there as a reminder that the best way to heal is by surrounding yourself with a supportive community. Healing should not (and cannot) be done alone.
There are 3 more artists who reflect on the journey of intergenerational healing. Amy Duong’s “Hôn,” which translates to “kiss,” is a colorful painting reminiscent of quality time spent with a beloved grandma during childhood. Sarah Nguyễn, who created a 10-minute dance film, is raising funds for a friend’s sister who has been trying to leave Việt Nam since the war. Jess Boyd’s “Liquid Love” consists of poems and photographs of 4 generations of daughters.
Tying the Threads runs through December 2023 at the Little Saigon Creative, 1227 S Weller St Suite A, Seattle. Open hours are 8am-4pm every day. For more information visit https://flsseattle.org/little-saigon-creative/art-gallery/.