Artist: Tony Nguyen
Media: Medals, Ceramics, Wood
Gallery: CSULB School of Arts, Dr. Maxine Merlino Gallery
About the Artist:
Tony Nguyen is currently attending CSULB and is in the School of Art’s Medal Program. He is in his 5th year of college and is striving for his BFA. Tony describes himself as 100% Vietnamese and the youngest child of his family. When Tony began college he knew he wanted to major in art; however, he did not know what form of art. He tried illustration and design but said that he was told that he was not good enough, so he moved on. He then began to create other forms of art with medal, ceramic and wood, which he stated had to have a functionality and story behind it.
The art that Tony constructed was fascinating. One of the most eye catching was the “Vending Machine Pending Happiness.” This art work was the most colorful of all. It was made out of wood and medal with different colored plastic containers that contained stickers. The second art piece was the “My Family Bridge.” The necklace that the manic had on was made of medal. There were also different Tony figures expressing different emotions. For example, there was a aggressive Tony, a hardworking Tony, a cool Tony, and many other Tonys. However, in the back of the manic there was another figure of Tony without color or facial expression.
The story behind Tony’s art work was fascinating. Every piece of art that he constructed had an interesting story behind it. Tony explained that as a kid he loved breaking things down and making them functional. As a result he created the “Vending Machine Pending Happiness.” Tony explained that as a child he was fascinated that a quarter can get you so much with only a turn of the wrist. Another reason why he created it was because as a child Tony did not have a lot of friends so therefore he surrounded himself with a lot of toys. His artwork reflects him buying happiness; however, not in a shallow sense.
The second piece of art “My Family Bridge” was a touching story. Tony explained that as a child the Vietnamese culture never allowed them to construct a family tree something he has always wanted to do. As a result, he decided to form a neckless with four small bridges, two feet on each and one big bridge with four feet. Each small bridge with two feet represent Tony’s brothers and their journey of life. The big bridge on the other hand with the four feet was designed for his parents. Tony explains that the reason why he used bridges was because when his parents lived in Vietnam there was going to be a war and that there was a bridge that was the only way out of town. People threatened to blow up that bridge, so his parents crossed the bridge before it was destroyed. Tony stated that sure enough, once his parents crossed the bridge it was blown up.
Synthesis/ My Experience:
I really enjoyed Tony’s art work. This has been my second favorite art gallery that I have been too. To begin with the “Vending Machine Pending Happiness” was my favorite piece of art. It brought me so many memories to when I was a child and I would ask my mother for a quarter to get something from the machine. I remember the excitement of turning the knob to get the toy. Now that I look back at my experience its amazing how one quarter can bring happiness to a child. I recall trying to put my little hand in the machine to try to reach more toys, but obviously it never worked. On the other hand, the “My Family Bridge” at first I didn’t find importance to it. However, as Tony began to explain the story to why he created the necklace on the manic-can made me realize how important family is. That no matter how many fights and arguments you have with your family, they will always be there and we should love them. Overall, this was a great gallery. I loved the way Tony explained his art work. He was walking around showing his audience his work not like other artists that sit outside the gallery.