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Minneapolis Institute of Art to present two exhibitions exploring the impact of the Vietnam War

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Artists Reflect: Contemporary Views on the American War
September 29, 2019–January 5, 2020

Artists Respond: American Art and the Vietnam War, 1965–1975
September 29, 2019–January 5, 2020

To accompany “Artists Respond: American Art and the Vietnam War, 1965–1975”the critically acclaimed exhibition organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM)—the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) will present “Artists Reflect: Contemporary Views on the American War,” featuring works by Southeast Asian diaspora artists, who explore the impact and legacy of the conflict.

Drawings, textiles, video, photography, and installation work by Tiffany Chung (b. 1969, Vietnam), Pao Houa Her (b. 1982, Laos), An-My Lê (b. 1960, Vietnam), Dinh Q. Lê (b. 1968, Vietnam), Hương Ngô (b. 1979, Hong Kong) and Hồng-An Trương (b. 1976, USA), Teo Nguyen (b. 1977, Vietnam), Tuan Andrew Nguyen (b. 1976, Vietnam), Pipo Nguyen-duy (b. 1962, Vietnam), Cy Thao (b. 1972, Laos), and Thi Bui (b. 1975, Vietnam) reflect on migration, memory, the effect of violence on the landscape and on communities, healing, and trauma, while bringing attention to the war’s living effects on the population most affected by its long history (predating and postdating U.S. involvement). Artists Reflect” coincides with “Artists Respond”; both are on view in Target Galleries September 29, 2019, through January 5, 2020. The exhibition is organized by Robert Cozzolino, Patrick and Aimee Butler Curator of Paintings at the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

‘Artists Reflect’ picks up where the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s important exhibition ‘Artists Respond’ ends,” Cozzolino said. “It gives visitors the chance to see how the American War impacted artists whose families lived in Vietnam and Laos. Their artwork explores the ongoing legacy of the war on their communities. It examines migration, the lives of veterans, landscape as witness, and the way memory is passed down through generations. The artists offer a fascinating and emotionally complex perspective of the impact of this war.”

Highlights of “Artists Reflect: Contemporary Views on the American War” include “The opposite of looking is not invisibility. The opposite of yellow is not gold” a collaboration between Hương Ngô and Hồng-An Trương exploring immigration and refugee experience through the lens of their family photographs; Pao Houa Her’s photographs honoring Hmong veterans of the American war; Tuan Andrew Nguyen’s memorial to Thích Quảng Đức, a Buddhist monk who in 1963 set himself on fire to protest the repressive South Vietnamese government; Thi Bui’s original drawings for her memoir The Best We Could Do and the children’s book A Different Pond; and Tiffany Chung’s large embroidered map tracing migration routes in the wake of the wars in Southeast Asia.

“Artists Respond: American Art and the Vietnam War, 1965–1975,” curated by Melissa Ho, debuted at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in spring 2019. The exhibition presents art created amid the United States’ pitched conflict with Vietnam and on the home front as Americans bitterly fought over whether they should be involved in this war. The exhibition spans the period from President Lyndon B. Johnson’s fateful decision to deploy U.S. ground troops to South Vietnam in 1965 to the fall of Sài Gòn 10 years later.

“Artists Respond” is the most comprehensive exhibition to examine the contemporary impact of the Vietnam War on American art. It brings together nearly 100 works by 58 of the most visionary and provocative artists of the period, including T. C. Cannon (1946–1978, USA), Judy Chicago (b. 1939, USA), Dan Flavin (1933–1996, USA), Leon Golub (1922–2004, USA), David Hammons (b. 1943, USA), Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929, Japan), Bruce Nauman (b. 1941, USA), Liliana Porter (b. 1941, Argentina), Claus Oldenburg (1929, Sweden), Yoko Ono (b. 1933, Japan), Faith Ringgold (b. 1930, USA), Martha Rosler (b. 1943, USA), Peter Saul (b. 1934, USA), Nancy Spero (1926–2009, USA), Jesse Treviño (b. 1946, Mexico), and others. Galvanized by the moral urgency of the Vietnam War, these artists reimagined the goals and uses of art, influencing developments in multiple movements and media: painting, sculpture, printmaking, performance, installation, documentary art, and conceptualism.

This exhibition presents both well-known and rarely discussed works, and offers an expanded view of American art during the war, introducing a diversity of previously marginalized artistic voices, including women, African Americans, Latinos, and Asian Americans. The exhibition makes vivid an era in which artists endeavored to respond to the turbulent times and openly questioned issues central to American civic life.

A 416-page catalogue accompanies “Artists Respond: American Art and the Vietnam War, 1965–1975.” Published by the Smithsonian American Art Museum in association with Princeton University Press, the hardcover book will be available for purchase at The Store at Mia for $65.

Programming for the exhibition includes the following events:

  • October 17: Third Thursday: Artists Respond invites visitors to connect and create with artist activists responding to relevant contemporary issues today. The free event will feature thought-provoking live performances, visual artwork, and art-making activities, as audiences discover the impact of creativity as a change-maker in today’s world. All My Mia members will enjoy complimentary tickets to the exhibition during the event.
  • September 28: Study Day: Artists & the Vietnam War will feature talks by prominent artists and leading scholars, as well as performances, small-group dialogues, and art activations. Featured speakers include curators Melissa Ho and Robert Cozzolino, scholar Karen Mary Davalos, and artists Martha Rosler, Peter Saul, Rupert Garcia, Jesse Trevino, Pao Her, Thi Bui, and Tiffany Chung. Conversations will explore experiences during 1965–75, pose critical questions about our current time, and reflect on the half-century that separates the two. This program is made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Tickets are $30, $20 for My Mia members, and $10 for members of Contemporary Art and Paintings Affinity Groups.

“Artists Respond: American Art and the Vietnam War, 1965–1975” is organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum with generous support from Anonymous, the Diane and Norman Bernstein Foundation, Sheri and Joe Boulos, the Gene Davis Memorial Fund, Glenstone Foundation, Norbert Hornstein and Amy Weinberg, the Henry Luce Foundation, Nion McEvoy and Leslie Berriman, Cindy Miscikowski, Daniel C. and Teresa Moran Schwartz, the Smithsonian Scholarly Studies Awards, and the Terra Foundation for American Art.

The exhibition was made possible at the Minneapolis Institute of Art thanks to lead sponsor Thomson Reuters. Major sponsors include the National Endowment for the Arts and the Boris Lurie Art Foundation. Additional generous support was provided by Nivin MacMillan, Richard and Jennie Carlson, Hubert Joly, John and Nancy Lindahl, Marianne Short and Raymond Skowyra, Jr., Page Knudsen Cowles and Jay Cowles, Shannon Evenstad, Alfred and Ingrid Lenz Harrison, Martha Head, Diane and David Lilly, Reid and Ann MacDonald, Sheila Morgan, Lewis and Connie Remele, Joan and John Rex, Katie Simpson, Laysha Ward and Bill Kiffmeyer, and donors to the 2019 Mia Gala.