I come from a place where we cast our eyes down. In the fishing village in Vietnam where I was born and raised, respect dictates that we take in the world in glances–softly, quietly, sounlike the bold full-face stares with which Americans confront their surroundings. There is beauty in the reverence that defines the culture of my ancestors, but also in the brave and unapologetic curiosity of my adopted homeland. As an immigrant and an artist, I have learned to embrace the American spirit of freedom that says if you see a road that interests you, go ahead: venture down it. Even so, I am always a stranger to what I see; always slightly outside, finding in what is ordinary to others something tender and strange. It is from that vantage point that I have explored the Middle West, my home for nearly a decade, where the beauty that lies between the earth and the sky mesmerizes me. I am an observer. I am a painter. I venture to the end of dirt roads to discover what lies there, and return with a sketch, or just a memory. And a story I want to tell. The process of creating a composition and telling that story interests me. I capture the quiet beauty that surrounds me. That becomes a part of me. The beauty that already exists. Or sometimes, the way I want it to be. And so the story begins.
These paintings are an interpretation of what I feel and see: moments in which we are alone even as we are connected to each other, connected to each other in our aloneness. I hope that my work will create for the viewer that moment as I see it—no longer looking with eyes cast down but still not straight on either–when ordinary things become remarkable and beautiful. – Teo Nguyen
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