War refugee talks life

vanessa sahawi, Binh Danh shares his finest art and philosophies

Binh Danh hits the Target

The art room opened the doors to a grand audience on Sept. 22, all awaiting to see the guest lecture speaker Binh Danh. As the seats filled, a man with a blue collar shirt and friendly smile greeted everyone walking to their seats.

” I first met Binh through a photograph taken by his family before leaving Vietnam while making a label copy for History San Jose,” Monika Del Bosque, Pierce College Gallery director and assistant professor of art, said during her introduction.

Danh lived in Northern California and is well known for his photography, but began his work in art installation. He currently has four art shows at work in Oakland, San Francisco, Nevada and North Carolina.

During the lecture Danh discussed many historical events, spirituality, religion, and philosophy concepts. He used picture imagery to help tell the stories of the Holocaust, Cherokee “Trail of Tears,” and the Vietnam Memorial; these three examples made an individual who they are and the history behind it.

” I believe we could live a better life, if we reach nirvana it can teach us compassion and to be kind to others,” said Danh.

The use of photography is used to help understand ones past and how far one has come. Danh gave the audience a glimpse into his life as a Vietnamese refugee, the Vietnam War and the struggles that many faced during these gruesome times of war.

He explained the significance of a photograph during these times and the how it affected his family. The arranged marriage of his mother and father was because of a portrait sent and taken of his mother.

” To keep the people in the photograph alive and captures a slice in time,” said Danh.

According to Dahn, the philosophical viewpoint behind the chlorophyll print is to have a stronger relationship with Mother nature and to be close to roots of life, said Danh.

” If the grass could talk what stories would they tell and what would they say about us.”

As the lecture was completed the audience flooded to the Art Gallery to see Danh’s art installation. The gallery was lively with familiar faces as well as new ones who were interested in seing the art work.

” It’s showing you that after a couple of years the aftermath (of the Vietnam war) from agriculture, way of life. People collecting tanks restored in concrete. Ideas is very subtle, the vases that look like bombs,” said freshman Gustavo Tepetla.

“I saw the art exhibit and I viewed it as anti militaristic. I felt offended. I feel that the marines, army, navy and others shouldn’t be portrayed that way. We don’t really understand what the soldiers go through,” said freshman Arvin Aquino.

“I’ve come to the conclusion, that it’s not the artist, it’s the viewer. The viewer might have some personal take on my work but it’s the viewer who makes the opinion. I just place my work and it’s the viewer who takes the interpretation,” said Danh about the topic of criticism of his artwork.


Pierce College student, Gustavo Tepetla (Right), discussed art with Binh Danh(left). (Gary Moratz)