About HUONG and Her "Artbiography"

As an artist, former journalist, mother, Vietnam War refugee and fervent social activist, Huong has communicated her message for peace for more than 30 years. A self-taught artist, she has launched over 80 exhibits throughout the U.S. and Canada. Collectively, her paintings form a body of work that is rare and perhaps unprecedented in addressing issues of war and peace. Many have compared her work to that of Pablo Picasso’s war protest, Guernica.

Huong was a 25-year-old mother and Vietnamese journalist when she escaped her war-torn country in 1975 on the eve before the fall of Saigon, catching one of the last refugee life boats and wearing only one shoe while clutching her infant son. She soon embarked upon a journey that took her to Guam, then to California, and finally to Alaska, where she soon swapped her pen for a brush.

In Alaska, she painted the beauty around her and nurtured the opportunity for a new life of promise.  She learned to  carve and paint with the Eskimos, and art soon became the source of her livelihood. At the time, most of her work was of Alaskan landscapes. Soon, she exhibited in galleries across the country and eventually settled in South Florida in the late  1980s. Shortly after came the urge to paint out the passions within her.


In 1991 when the fist Iraq War began, as she  describes it, “I came face to face with the memory of the war and my demons. The numbed grief inside leaked out. The  memories poured out and ached within me.”  And so, she took  responsibility for this call to action, justice, and a sense of  mission.


In the words of the Artist herself:

By fate or by chance, on that ominous day in 1975, I was destined to begin the journey that would forever  change my life.  I was a child of war in Vietnam.  Today, I am a woman of peace. I have grown into the  wounds of that war.  My art is my  story, my artbiography, and in each unique way, the story of us all.

All of us are children of war-- the same war with different names. One does not have to  be on the battlefield, in a jungle,  or in the desert to be a victim of war.  In our genes, we carry every war that has ever been fought. All of us are victims  and survivors who in one way or another have been wounded. But I am an optimist.  I believe human beings have the  capacity to create peace both within themselves  and with others. I remember all too well, running, pushing, falling.  I remember feeling the blood throbbing through my veins.  I remember the grenades, the blinding explosions, the piles of  human rubble, the vacant eyes staring ahead as my terror swelled.

Then, I lost my shoe.  I thought I should leave the other shoe so those left behind could use it.  I hadn’t thought that  there would be many who would need just one shoe.  I kept running, my son clinging to me, sharing my sweat and my fear.  


We were lucky.  We climbed into the boat to life -- one mother, one child, one diaper, one shoe. For 14 days and 14 moon-lit  nights I journeyed, looking into the sea and watching bobbing heads coming up for breath, others sinking into the sea screaming.  Exile to the sea was bittersweet.  I was thankful to be alive and with my child, but much of my family was left behind. My father, a commander in the South Vietnamese Army, was in a wretched stink hole of a Viet Cong prison.  He  would spend 9 years there and upon release, died of cancer.  My brothers were both dead, one by the hand of the enemy,  the other by his own hand. The fate of my husband, my mother, my sisters -- all unknown.

Exile to the sea could not wash away the scars.  I turned my back to the war and to my home. Six weeks later, carried  by  hope and grit, I entered upon a miracle, the shores of California. I climbed out of that boat and hit the ground  running.  

Again. I wanted to be sure I would not again be displaced.  My life was lost behind in a tortured land of carnage, brokenness, and decayed dreams.  I had my child to keep me alive by knowing I needed to keep him alive. I was then and am today, a survivor.  But at times I feel the guilt of surviving. I would spend my life proving that I was worthy of it.

My art reflects my journey and the journey of the people of the 20th and 21st centuries.  It reflects the woundedness of us all. -- Huong, 2007



About the Peace Mural

While Huong’s paintings capture every consequence of war, so does The Peace Mural.  It exposes the consequences of war  in all its nakedness—the “collateral damage” also known as human beings.  It was imperative that she bring the public into  the art itself.  It is about their lives too.

This monumental project has multiple themes: peace, war, Voices of Children dead or alive, the Voices of the troops, Mothers in war, the Peace of all Nations, the Flag at War, the Displaced, the Orphaned and the Refugees, the Disabled the Tortured.  It is a combined effort.  Each participant adds his or her own experience and ideology and, in turn, is also  shaped by the dialogue. How they see it and what they bring forth is at the core of contemplating war and "thinking peace."

Huong has been invited by many people around the country to bring this mural so that people can sign on for peace and make  a difference. Just imagine if this mural could travel to every state, have a place to set up and encourage the citizens of  our country to write their thoughts and beliefs, and to add their art to that of others.  We could have a mural to embrace  our country, our mandate for Peace.





“For me, as long as there is war, Vietnam will never be over.  President Bush said on 9/11 that the global war on terror was "the inescapable calling of our generation." I believe the inescapable calling of our generation is Peace. It’s our choice.
-- Huong


"My art reflects my journey and the journey of the people of the 20th and 21 centuries.  It reflects the
woundedness of us all."-
- Huong



"Huong's artobiographical  work creates a venue for dialogue to talk about issues of war and peace."
-- Sandi Wicina,
Curator, Museum of War & Peace



Nguồn : Talkingthewalk.net