Biển, Biến, Biên

Biển, Biến, Biên (The Ocean, to Vanish, to Note), 2013Charcoal, acrylic, and joss paper on stone, coconut shells, burlap, tree bark, tree branches and rice sacks, approximately 8 ½”h x 5”w x 3 ¾”d each
Collection of the Vietnamese American Oral History Project at the University of California, Irvine

In this project, I mourn the loss of those who sought freedom, but did not live to experience it in the new land. The portraits, of individuals who had passed during the time of war, have been drawn upon joss paper, a paper which is burned in prayer for the ancestors in Vietnamese folk tradition. The stones illustrate the idea that all will become part of the earth as the cycle continues. The title of the piece, "Biển, Biến, Biên", translates to "the ocean", which attempted to carry them across seas, "to vanish", which so many did during this tumultuous time, and "to note", which I am doing as a visual documentation in order to share their stories.

Memorializing these individuals has been part of the process to now move forward as a people. By trying to understand their journey through the creative process, I can continue on my journey with great gratitude, as I live this life of promise for which they themselves had hoped, had fought, and had died.