Vietnamese-American Artists

by cmoneyspinner

Shining the spotlight on some amazing Vietnamese-American artists.

The Vietnamese American Arts & Letters Association (VAALA) as its name suggests is an organization that has the following mission: "to connect and enrich communities through Vietnamese art and culture".

Although VAALA's impressive membership includes artists, authors, musicians, poets, spoken-word artists, filmmakers, photographers, writers, directors, composers, actors, producers, animators and even comedians, this article will only highlight selected works by a few of its contemporary artists.

A special thanks to Ms. Giana Nguyen, board member with VAALA, for extending me an invitation to have a look at the wonderful work of this organization. Ms. Nguyen is an artist as well. She is California-based singer/songwriter, who was born in Saigon and immigrated to Southern California when she was just a young child. She opened up a whole new world for me when she allowed me to interview her and publish an article about her career and her dreams of becoming a performer on the international stage.

Vietnamese American Arts & Letters Association

Official website:  Vietnamese American Arts & Letters Association (VAALA)

Follow on Twitter:  @VAALAcommunity or Like their community page on Facebook.

Cycles of LifeThe Vietnamese American Arts & Letters Association is a non-profit organization, founded in 1991.  The image credit is an announcement for a free and open art exhibit which was held March 17th through April 1st, 2012 at the VAALA Cultural Center in Santa Ana, CA. The exhibit's theme was "Cycles of Life" and featured fine art by artists of Vietnamese descent from multiple generations, many of whom are here in America as a result of the Vietnamese diaspora.

Some of the past events presented or co-sponsored by VAALA included:

  • "ON BEING HUMAN: LOVE, FAITH, SHAME, AND HOPE" which displayed cultural art by renowned contemporary artists representing five continents.
  • Thang Dao's Quiet Imprint; a ballet funded by the Princess Grace Foundation and presented by the Thang Dao Dance Company (TDDC) in collaboration with Ballet Austin.
  • Annual Autumn Moon Festival Children's Art Contest - a festival wholly dedicated to children, encouraging them to celebrate tradition and expand and enhance their creativity and talents.
  • "I HAVE THE RIGHT" - This exhibit featured the work of about 100 artists and served as a primary vehicle to introduce the world to (the late) You Khin, a Cambodian artist whose artwork captured the destruction of his beloved homeland at the hands of the Khmer Rouge and its subsequent rebirth.

* Contact VAALA if interested in any of the pieces displayed by way of this article.

(Intro Image Credit:  Official VAALA logo.)

Ann Phong, artist, born in Saigon, Vietnam.

Ann Phong fled her homeland by boat and lived in refugee camps in Malaysia and the Philippines before coming to America and settling in Southern California.

She is a professor of art at California State University Pomona and specializes in drawing, painting, illustration and design.

I love to dream. Dreams often help me make sense of reality.  The "Group Hug" painting was selected because it has a dream quality.

"Group Hug"

Group Hug

Howard Tran's art explores his childhood in Vietnam

The art of Howard Tran expresses themes related to his life in Vietnam where he lived until the age of twelve and his life upon immigrating to the United States of America.  I fancied this particular piece of artwork - "To-Tien #21" - because it made me think - 'I respect my ancestry and background. I appreciate their contributions in molding me into the person and character that I am. But nobody can tell me what's in my head.' (I'm not sure that's what the artist intended. But that was the effect.)

To-Tien #21

To-Tien #21

Mr. Tran's grandparents emigrated from China to Vietnam during WWII, and though they translated their name from Chinese to Vietnamese and tried to assimilate, they were still thought of as Chinese. Upon immigrating to the United States, because he spoke Vietnamese and had a Vietnamese name, he became identified by the Americans as Vietnamese. Tran says he is a Chinese Vietnamese American and his art incorporates all three cultures and the dichotomy between East and West.

Hung Viet Nguyen, self-taught artist

Hung Viet Nguyen, born in 1957 in Saigon Vietnam; escaped by boat to Philippines; made his home in the United States in 1982.  He is a self-taught artist.

His artworks are in private collections in Canada, France, United Kingdom, United States, Vietnam.  You can visit his website - Hung4Art - to view his portfolio.


Coastal Sensation #2
Coastal Sensation #2

Several of his paintings, like "Coast" (also called "Coastal Sensation #2") pictured above, struck me as telling a real genuine story of human experience and the depth of his emotions; a memory of beauty and sorrow.

Thinh Nguyen never thought he'd be an artist

Thinh Nguyen grew up in a small village in Bao An province, and never thought that someday he would become an artist. That changed when he and his family immigrated to the United States from Vietnam. He was eleven years old at the time. He now lives and works as an artist in Los Angeles.

He has developed a unique style which uses sticks, bottles, yarn, and finger painting in place of traditional brushes. "Through this process, he is able to capture authentic expression."

"Orange Children"

Orange Children

Regards "Orange Children":  This piece of work grabbed me right away. I immediately thought of the horrific impact of the U.S. military's decision to use "Agent Orange". In my mind, there is no "art of war" but there is art that can reflect the horrors of war.

Spotlight on Giana Nguyen | Gem of Orange County

What do David Foster and Prince have in common? They both have an eye for awesome talent. So someone should introduce them to Giana Nguyen.  This newbie independent artist is a California-based singer/songwriter who collaborates with established pop artists in the Vietnamese-American music scene.  She has been characterized as "Orange County's Hidden Gem".  


Thank You


A note of thanks to Ms. Giana Nguyen, VAALA Board Member for assisting with obtaining proper permissions and approval to display these fabulous works of art and introduce others to this non-profit organization.

For Now
Giana Nguyen
Only $5.94
Journey From the Fall
$7.75  $3.76

Journey from the Fall

"It's been 30 years and the world needs to know what happened." Tells about the experience of Vietnamese refugees right after the fall; how they escaped.

* * Asian Art on eBay * *


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Updated: 05/17/2018, cmoneyspinner
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cmoneyspinner on 03/01/2014

@EmmaSRose - Yes they are quite lovely aren't they? The nice lady, Ms. Giana Nguyen, who exposed me to the work of these wonderful artists is equally lovely.

cmoneyspinner on 10/26/2013

Thank you Mary Norton for visiting and also for sharing a link to the website I wholly support initiatives to "Be a Global Citizen".

Mary Norton on 10/26/2013

I a now in Hanoi and watch water puppetry which I enjoy.

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