Vietnamese-antiwar US artistic collaboration at Hanoi dike

Vietnam with HanoiFrom Viet Nam News:

Artists to transform ordinary wall into cultural expression

By Nguyen My Ha

Publication Date: 08-05-2007

To one team of artists, the grey-coloured dike tracing the Hong (Red) River means more than flood protection: it’s a symbol of progress and an opportunity for innovation.

That’s why the group has gathered in a stilt house along the Cau River in Bac Ninh Province, to contemplate ideas, methods and even mathematical formulas for carrying out an ambitious project to transform the visually unappealing cement dike into a public work of art.

The mastermind behind the project is Nguyen Thu Thuy, a journalist and layout artist at the weekly magazine Ha Noi Moi (New Ha Noi).

Thuy addressed the artists who had gathered to discuss Con Duong Gom Su Ven Song Hong, The Ceramic Road along the Red River, the project to adorn the dike with a colourful mosaic. …

As the project is still in its early stages, meeting attendees, including American ceramic artist Joel Bennett, tossed out ideas about how exactly the mosaic should be designed.

“I suggest a section of the wall that calls on artists from around the world to send in tiles with messages to Ha Noi and a section of the wall dedicated to children around the world,” said Bennett, owner of Joel Bennett Studio in Forestville, California, and teacher of ceramics at Santa Rosa Community College.

A Viet Nam War protester in the US in the 1970s, Bennett has been to Viet Nam five times before, holding an exhibition in Ha Noi and participating in a ceramic symposium in the town of Viet Tri in 2005.

Thuy had her own ideas about the design of the project.

“On the two sides of the bridge, I visualise two ascending dragons in the Ly dynasty style, to commemorate the Ly King and the millennial anniversary of Ha Noi,” she said.

According to Vietnamese legend, when King Ly Thai To moved the capital from Hoa Lu, a small town in the mountains, to Dai La Citadel, he saw a giant dragon ascending into the sky.

Hence he renamed the citadel Thang Long, meaning Ascending Dragon.

How much better this is than when the dikes around Hanoi were bombed during the Vietnam war …

5 thoughts on “Vietnamese-antiwar US artistic collaboration at Hanoi dike

  1. Hello again Kitty. I have many friends in Forestville. I can’t say that I am familiar with Mr. Bennett’s work, but one of my best friends is an instructor at the Santa Rosa Junior College. I was also friends with the late Peter Broome. Pete was a sculptor who was head of the art department at the college. The college was also an organizing center for last week’s huge May Day march. Thanks for this interesting piece of local news. Our own local paper has not covered this story.


  2. Hi Jon, thanks for this comment. Yes indeed, a bit strange, having to find your local news from all the way in Vietnam (where they happened to translate it in English in this case).


  3. Hanoi – women – arts

    14:49′ 26/12/2007 (GMT+7)

    VietNamNet Bridge – A painting exhibition named “Hanoi – women – arts” will be on display at Maison des Arts (The House of Arts) gallery at 31A Van Mieu.

    The exhibition will feature seventeen female painters: Bach Dan, Ly Tran Quynh Giang, Bui Mai Hien, Dao Le Huong, Le Thi Hien, Cong Kim Hoa, Dang Thi Khue, Do Thi Ninh, Dinh Y Nhi, Nguyen Yen Nguyet, Tham Poong, Vu Bich Thuy, Vu Kim Thu, Le Hong Yen, Le Thi Minh Tam, Mai Thu Van and Le Thu; it will close January 10, 2008.

    Do Thi Ninh is the eldest, 60, of the above group and Ly Tran Quynh Giang is the youngest, 29. A few are lecturers at the University of Arts and members of the Vietnam Arts Association, others work for art organizations and museums. Some have won domestic and international art awards.

    “17 painters are 17 fates, 17 lives. Each of their paintings convey their feelings and philosophies about art and life,” said young painter Le Thi Minh Tam.

    Nguyen Nga, the exhibition organizer, said: “Looking at their paintings, I understand their intense passion and love for the arts which has given them the strength to overcome the adversities of daily life and devote themselves to arts. This exhibition is held to thank and honor these women and painters”.

    (Source: Tien Phong)


  4. Pingback: First Hanoi Gay Pride parade | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  5. Pingback: United States ‘War on Poverty’ during the Vietnam war | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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