Ogden Southern Art Museum to Showcase Nail Salon, a Collection of Works by Christian Dinh That Reorients Stigma and Celebrates Vietnamese-American Culture
NEW ORLEANS (press release) – The Ogden Southern Art Museum is pleased to highlight the 2020-21 work package, Nail salon, by New Orleans ceramist Christain Dinh. Drawing on his personal experience as a first generation Asian-American, Dinh created this series with the intention of reorienting stigma and celebrating Vietnamese-American identity by confronting racism, stereotypes and sub -representation. Nail salon will open to the public on Friday, June 18, 2021 and will be visible until Sunday, January 16, 2022.
Ogden Museum will present 11 works by Nail salon, several of which are porcelain casts decorated with display hands typically seen in a nail salon. Since many workers in the nail industry are immigrants who speak little or no English, display hands serve as a translation tool – or a means of communicating services to clients. On these sculptures, Dinh depicts different ideals of success in Vietnamese-American culture such as Catholicism, Vietnamese New Year (Tết) and family hearth. “These ideals are what unites Vietnamese culture in a country where they are in the minority,” says Dinh.
“Vietnamese nail salons are often stigmatized, due to their association with the work of lower-class minorities,” says Dinh. “However, I think the Vietnamese nail salon is one of the great success stories of the Vietnamese-American community.”
“With his vases, Dinh elegantly merges high art and small art, tradition and kitsch, to convey a pop aesthetic of contemporary Vietnamese-American culture,” says Bradley Sumrall, curator of the Ogden Museum collection. “With the molded hands of his Nail salon works, Dinh confronts the stigma associated with the subject, reclaiming the space to convey a narrative of family values, hard work, sacrifice and success for his community.
This special artist spotlight is part of FOCUS, a new series launched in February 2021 at the Ogden Museum showcasing the work of established and emerging regional artists who are impacting their art. The series serves as a platform for artists to share their work and the important messages it conveys. The Ogden Museum hopes this ongoing initiative will illustrate the powerful role art plays in the complex and vibrant fabric of the southern United States.
About Christian Dinh
Born in 1992, Christian Dinh is an American-Vietnamese ceramicist from Orlando, Florida. He received his BFA in 2017 from the University of West Florida at Pensacola. While studying at UWF, Dinh received the Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award from the International Sculpture Center. Moved to New Orleans in 2018, Dinh is currently pursuing the Master of Fine Arts program at Tulane University. Dinh’s ceramic and sculptural work has been the subject of numerous exhibitions all over the Gulf Coast, notably And now for something new Vol. 2 at the LeMieux gallery in New Orleans and PHILICAL / PHOBIC at the Pensacola Art Museum.
My current body of work focuses on the experience of a first generation Asian American. The work focuses on the Vietnamese culture that developed in the United States after the Vietnam War and the thriving Vietnamese community established by refugees and immigrants across the country. Vietnam’s cultural way of life, traditions and beliefs were brought to America in fragments by Vietnamese immigrants. The resilience of the Vietnamese people allowed them to adapt to their displacement and to create a new culture with what surrounded them. This culture established by the Vietnamese people shaped my experience as a first generation Asian-American. Through my works, I draw attention to the experiences, objects, places and values that are part of the identity of the Vietnamese-American people. My work reorients stigma and celebrates Vietnamese-American identity by confronting racism, stereotypes and under-representation. Vietnamese nail salons are often stigmatized, due to their association with the work of popular minorities. However, I think the Vietnamese nail salon is one of the great achievements of the Vietnamese-American community. My series, Nail salon, redirects this stigma and highlights the success of the Vietnamese nail salon industry. The pieces in the Nail salon The series are porcelain cast iron display hands that are typically seen in a nail salon. Display needles signify the idea of a translator. Many workers in the nail industry are immigrants who speak little or no English and rely on visual representation to communicate. Hands in Tết, AROMAME, French tip and Cam n represent a communication tool for those who face the daily struggles of language barriers. Hands and fingernails have representations of different ideals of success in Vietnamese-American culture based on my experience, such as Catholicism, Vietnamese New Year (Tết), and family hearth. These ideals are what unites Vietnamese culture in a country where they are in the minority.
About the Southern Ogden Art Museum
Located in the vibrant Warehouse Arts District of downtown New Orleans, Louisiana, since 1999, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art invites visitors to discover and learn about the artists and art movements of the Southern United States. It houses a collection of more than four thousand works, which makes it the largest and most complete repository dedicated to the art of the South of the country, with particular strength in the genres of self-taught art, regionalism, photography and contemporary art. The museum is further recognized for its original exhibits, public events and educational programs, which examine the development of visual art alongside southern traditions of local music, literature and crafts. Admission to the museum is free on Thursdays for residents of Louisiana, courtesy of the Helis Foundation. The museum is located at 925 Camp Street, New Orleans, Louisiana 70130. For more information, visit www.ogdenmuseum.org.