Luis De Jesus Los Angeles is very pleased to announce PHUNG HUYNH: Don’t Call Me FOB, an exhibition of drawings, paintings, and mixed media works on view in Gallery 3 from November 5 through December 17, 2022. An opening reception will be held on Saturday, November 5, from 5:00 to 8:00 pm. This is the artist’s first solo exhibition with the gallery.
The works in Don’t Call Me FOB investigate notions of cultural identity from a kaleidoscopic perspective, a continual shift of idiosyncratic translations. Short for “fresh off the boat,” FOB is a derogatory insult aimed towards Asian immigrants who have not fully assimilated into American culture. The condescending term is widely used to scrutinize Asian immigrants’ cultural “shortcomings” – from attire, accent, or even one’s name. For some, taking on an anglicized name is a regrettable necessity, a means to avoid mispronunciation and simplify daily life in American environments, like school or work, while also facilitating one’s assimilation and acceptance amongst peers. However, the practice of acquiescing to American culture to this extent has, in recent times, become a double-edged sword.
The artist’s own diasporic experience, as well as the flagrant discrimination that others face, motivated her to reclaim Asian immigrant identity through a series of poignant cross-stitch works, entitled American Braised. Resembling license plates, each cross-stitch challenges the viewer to reevaluate and reject the one-sided demands and expectations of cultural assimilation in the U.S. Each drawing or cross-stitched piece is meant to be a sensitive portrayal of a unique personal story. A more recent series, titled The Pink Donut Box (2019-2022), is informed by her experience as a refugee of Cambodian and Chinese descent from Vietnam. Close to 90% of California’s donut shops are mom-and-pop businesses run by Cambodian immigrants or Cambodian Americans (Khmericans). The trend that links pink boxes with donuts can be traced back to the Khmerican donut ecosystem.
Huynh’s reflections and research have guided her to recontextualize traditional Asian iconography within the loosely woven fabric of American popular culture to call attention to (mis)interpretations and (re)appropriations. Huynh challenges how we consume and interpret ethnographic signifiers and attempts to de-center whiteness in constructing visual and historical narratives. This is especially apparent in her series Pretty Hurts, which conflates antiquated representations of Asian beauty ideals and current Western body image trends. With this imagery, Huynh is interested in how contemporary plastic surgery on Asian women have not only obscured racial identity, but how it has also amplified the exoticism and Orientalist eroticism of Asian women.
As a whole, the works in the exhibition explore how cultural ideas are imported, disassembled, and reconstructed. Huynh confronts the complexities of the Asian experience from varying identities and perspectives—Asian-American, immigrant, refugee, female—disputing monolithic representations of the community, and bringing awareness to the contemporary challenges of the Asian community.
Phung Huynh (b. Vietnam, 1977) completed her undergraduate coursework at the University of Southern California, received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with distinction from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, and her Master of Fine Arts degree from New York University. With a strong commitment to community engagement and social practice, Huynh has completed significant public art projects throughout Los Angeles County, including most recently Sobrevivir, a large-scale Corten steel floor sculpture that recognizes the women and events surrounding the practice of coerced sterilization at the LAC + USC Medical Center in the 1960s and 1970s. Additional public art commissions include the Metro Orange Line; Metro Silver Line; and the Los Angeles Zoo.
She has been the subject of a recent solo exhibition at the Vincent Price Art Museum, Los Angeles, CA; and her work has been exhibited at the USC Pacific Asia Museum, Los Angeles, CA; Torrance Art Museum, Torrance, CA; and Armory Center for the Arts, Pasadena, CA, among others. She was a 2022 semifinalist in the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition at the National Portrait Gallery, Washington D.C. and is a recipient of the 2021 COLA Individual Artist Fellowship. Her work is in the collections of The Vincent Price Art Museum, USC Pacific Asia Museum, and the Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine. Huynh is Professor of Art at Los Angeles Valley College where her focus is on serving disproportionately impacted students. She has served as Chair of the Public Art Commission for the city of South Pasadena and Chair of the Prison Arts Collective Advisory Council. She is currently on the Board of Directors for LA Más, a non-profit organization that serves BIPOC working class immigrant communities in Northeast Los Angeles.
For further information, including images and previews, please call 213-395-0762, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.