Artist: Tony Nguyen
Media: Metal, Various Objects
Gallery: Dr. Maxine Merlino Gallery
About the Artist
After 5 and a half years, Tony Nguyen, is finally about to become a school of art graduate. He walked in the Commencement ceremony in the Spring but has returned for the Fall semester to complete the last bit of the requirements for his degree. It seemed a bit odd to his parents that he could walk in the ceremony but would not receive a degree and would have to go back for the following semester. In Tony’s own words “they thought that I had flunked or something”. Soon enough his parents will see his degree hung up on a wall.
Starting out his art career and education, Tony began as a drawing and painting student. After a while he moved on to Illustration. It was during a conversation with one of his illustration professors that told him he would have to do hundreds of drawings that Tony decided he did not want to just draw. He wanted to do something more than just drawing. As a child he loved the idea of being an inventor. Tony was in luck because not only did he fulfill his dreams of becoming an inventor but he got the chance to create amazing art pieces.
Family has always been driving force for young Tony. Growing up he mentioned how his father was his first friend and how he always looked up to his father. His father worked as a Handyman which inspired Tony to pursue a career where he could use his hands to create and build things. When he took his first metal sculpture class, he mentioned how he felt that it was love at first cut. It was then when he knew he wanted to pursue a degree in metal sculpture. Tony received a lot of support from his father; however, there was a bit of resistance on his mother’s side. She wanted Tony to pursue a different path/career. .
Tony is currently in his last semester of the Metal Sculpture program in the School of Art in CSULB. After graduation, Tony plans to take some time off and explore what life has to offer. Later in life Tony wants to apply for graduate school, the main school on his mind is San Diego State. This is his number one school of choice because he wants a school where he is close to his family. As for his dream career, Tony aspires to work on Hollywood sets doing pops for movies. I that dream does not happen the last career choice he would want is to become a professor. On his spare time, Tony likes to write cheesy detective novels, surf the web to learn new things, and loves to play with his Legos.
Walking into the exhibition you see several breathtaking pieces. Each piece has a golden number which is part of the scavenger hunt. The pieces are made out of metal. They are all hand-made pieces with intricate details. There is a mixture of jewelry and sculptures pieces. The piece titled “My family bridge” has 5 bridges. Each bridge has the name of each family member in the back of the bridge. They are all connected. It is a necklace and is a bronzed color.
Though following your dreams is the goal for young college students, there are times where we seem to forget the people who made it all possible. One piece that reminded the audience of that exact thing is the bridge piece titled “My family bridge”. The amount of detail in each small bridge of the necklace, along with the beautiful story that accompanied it made the piece shine 1000 times brighter. The bridge represented the struggles that his family endured in the past. The story that lead Tony to create the piece was his mother’s story of crossing a bridge in Vietnam during the Vietnam war. She hesitated to cross and to leave her world behind, but just as she made the decision to cross and got across the bridge safely the bridge was blown up. If she had waited a split second more she, along with her family would not be where they are today. It shows how important family is to Tony and how they not only influence his life, but also his art. Each bridge represents a member of his family and the bridge was a made from each person’s toe print. The dark bridge is Tony’s bridge. Since he is the only person in his family that is an artist and is different from the rest of the family. The bridge also has the names of the family member who it represents on the back of the toe print. The piece overall is unique and carries a tremendous family story behind the beauty it holds. There were figurines that surrounded a beautiful bridge. The figurines were mini figures of himself. They showed the different sides of Tony. There was a fancy Tony that had a tie and a vest and there was also a famous Hollywood Tony; he is aiming for the stars. They were pretty cool to look at and it’s amazing that he’s doing something that he loves. He mentioned that he got into art because he wanted to learn how to make toys, and how he would love to be able to work on movie sets creating the props for the scenes.
My Experience/ Synthesis
The pieces in the exhibition captured the audience eyes; however, the story behind a couple of the pieces captured the audience’s hearts. There were pieces in the show that were fun to look at and showed the artist’s juvenile tendencies. It shows how no matter how old you are you still hold onto your child self. I felt that the bridge piece was such a beautiful and well done piece. The story behind it is what made it one of my favorite pieces up to date. Many times we forget that our parents have gone through so many struggles in order for us to be where we are today. We also forget that while we are growing up and finding ourselves, our parents are growing older and are not going to be here forever. I felt that I could definitely relate to that. I grew up in a tight knitted family and people think I’m so boring because on my free days or my free time I love to surround myself with my family and do not do the typical young adult thing. Family is family and it’s important to cherish that.
Not only did I find the exhibition to be one of my favorites, but I loved how open Tony seemed to be. He was friendly, approachable, and walked us throughout his exhibition. He answered each question in great detail and after he was done answering the audience’s questions he had a couple of questions for the audiences too. His charisma added a special flair to the exhibition. It’s true what people say, adults are just overgrown kids.