Photo: “Blue,” oil paint and collage on canvas, 20″ x 20,” 2016, by Phung Huynh
In planning for the 2020-21 academic year, the Center for Creativity and the Arts (CCA) has been teaming up with several other local organizations to bring top artistic exhibitions, talks, and experiences that will celebrate and commemorate different aspects of culture and history.
“‘The Power of Culture’ is a multi-organization collaboration that the Center for Creativity and the Arts, Fresno Art Museum, Arte Americas, and the James B. McClatchy Foundation have been developing together as a shared theme,” said Dr. Cindy Urrutia, CCA director.
Urrutia said the schedule for this collaborative effort will be announced once the uncertainty of this current health situation passes.
In the Spring of 2020, CCA sponsored a variety of events exploring the theme “Art and Identity: Boundaries and Perceptions.” The lineup included two CineCulture screenings of “Singing our Way to Freedom” and “Left on Pearl.” Other CCA sponsored lectures included Fresno State alumna Lizbeth De La Cruz Santana on her Playas de Tijuana Mural Project and Dr. Ruffin II on “The Struggle on Multiple Plains: California’s Long Civil Rights-Black Power Movement.”
The highlight of the spring lineup was CCA’s presentation of “Resistance Aunties,” an exhibition of works by Phung Huynh at the M Street Gallery in Downtown Fresno.
Huynh is a Los Angeles based artist who graduated from the Art Center College of Design in 1999 with a BFA in illustration. She went on to earn her MFA in studio art from New York University in 2001. She is currently a Professor of Art at Los Angeles Valley College.
In the exhibition, Huynh explored the clashing perceptions of female beauty. From the traditional ideal inspired by Chinese feet-binding of Asian feminine beauty which embraces small feet, small eyes, a broad forehead, and small breasts to the current trends influenced by western canons which call for larger eyes, a delicate forehead, a taller nose, and larger breasts; Huynh examines how plastic surgery has “not only obscured racial identity but has also amplified the exoticism and Orientalist eroticism of Asian women.” The result is an awkward synthesis of traditional and non-traditional, of east and west, that challenges our understandings of cultural representations and stereotypes.
As a refugee who moved from Vietnam to the United States as a toddler, Phung Huynh describes her cultural identity as a “slippery combination of Chinese, Cambodian, Vietnamese, and American, but never in equal parts.” Her multicultural upbringing brings her to question cultural identities. Through combining traditional Chinese iconography with popular American culture, she challenges the viewer with both western-leaning and nonwestern-leaning perspectives.
Huynh has exhibited nationally and internationally. She has also completed public art commissions for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro Orange Line, Metro Silver Line, and Metro Neighborhood Poster Series) and the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens.