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Khánh H. Lȇ: From Behind There, We Are Now Here
August 5 @ 6:00 pm - October 2 @ 6:00 pm EDTFree
Khánh H. Lê creates mixed-media collages based on deteriorating photographs and collective memories of his personal and familial history as a refugee living in Vietnamese internment camps. Inspired by storytelling, crafting, and myth-making, his mixed-media base is a nod to his immigrant experience. Lê’s collage-style of patterning and layering uses craft culture as a metaphor for constructing identity. However, his work is imbued with tension in its materiality and the source of its composition. The craft-store jewels sparkle as if real, emphasizing the scene’s idyllic nature and belying the traumas of exile. Lê weaves his own and his family’s experiences as refugees from Vietnam. Working from images found in family albums, digital photographs, and fashion and decoration magazines, he explores an identity formed amongst and from the memories of others. Opening Reception: Friday, August 5, 2022, 6 – 8 pm.
Even though I identify myself as a Vietnamese-born American, I still do not know the depth of what this descriptive label means. There is a discord within my own origin due to the fact that I was born in the wake of the Vietnam conflict. By the time I came into the world, Vietnam had already claimed its own independence. Being born too late effectively removed me from that earlier point in history and all that it signifies to people inside and outside of Vietnam. Growing up in the United States, I learned to adapt my identity living between two cultures. Identity is the central theme of my works, and I examine it through the bits and pieces of my personal memory and the collective history from the two cultures.
Contradictions and fragmentations are key issues in examining the notion of identity within the structure of my works. I collect images from family photo albums, digital photographs, and fashion and home décor magazines. Through the process of collage, I layer together the fragmented photo images to create a new historical narrative that is reflective of the tension within my own identity.
Khánh H. Lê (b. 1981, Long Dinh, Vietnam; lives and works in Washington, D.C.) continuously probes his personal and familial histories to carve out a cultural identity for himself. Lê creates dazzling compositions based on deteriorating photographs and collective memories of his and his relations’ experiences as refugees living in Vietnamese internment camps in the 1980s. Through the collaging of materials such as acrylic paintings, glitter, prints, and sparkling plastic craft jewels, Lê merges narratives—both horrific realities and idyllic fantasies—that are filled with tension as he explores notions of home, country, and safety.
Lê graduated with an MFA from Syracuse University in 2008. His work has been exhibited at the Hunterdon Art Museum, Clinton, New Jersey; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; and locally at Vox Populi, Honfleur Gallery, DC Arts Center, Hillyer Art Space, Transformer, CulturalDC, Pyramid Atlantic, and Arlington Arts Center. The DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities awarded Lê an Artist Fellowship for the Visual Arts in 2011, and 2015 through 2020. Lê was awarded second place in the Bethesda Painting Prize in 2018 and was a 2019 semifinalist of the Sondheim Artscape Prize in Baltimore.
Stone Tower Gallery Hours: Saturdays & Sundays, 12 pm – 6 pm
Stone Tower Gallery
Glen Echo Park
7300 MacArthur Blvd
Glen Echo, MD 20812
Glen Echo Park Partnership for Arts and Culture