Department of Fine Arts
Tel 519 888-4567 x36923
David Nguyen is a Vietnamese Canadian artist located in Brantford, Ontario. His artworks cull from the diaspora through historical and cultural customs, as well as personal experience. Nguyen started these explorations in 2017 to further understand Vietnamese culture through his connections to his deceased father. His investigations take on culturally rich associations with food, textiles, religion, and domestic rituals. He also explores identity by way of self and family portraiture where he uses colour, light, prosthetics, and body paint as a means to affect the viewer’s physical and emotional state.
Among the younger generations, we see minorities rejecting their own cultural identity, history as a result of being strongly influenced by Western culture. I struggled a lot with my identity as a Vietnamese Canadian, from rejecting my own language, cultural history, and even adopting another culture. My work explores the understanding of one’s own culture, history, death, family, language and identity. Through my artwork, I depict my own research, knowledge and my parents’ teaching about my cultural roots and imbed this concept to educate and incentivize others to learn.
My works come in various mediums such as: sculpture, interactive pieces, performance, photography, video and more. Each concept’s presentation is carefully thought out to maximize the effect on the viewer both physically and emotionally. For the majority of my work, I take into consideration the viewers feeling towards the work, allowing me to create work that is uncomfortable or very-in-your-face, as seen in, Lie Within my Smile (2020), Comfort (2020), and Con La Nothing (2019). The elegant presentation of Budding Life (2017), Last Meal (2020) and Journey (2019) demonstrate the amount of thought I put into presenting my work, which displays my exploration of my culture and identity.
There are many artists that inspired and influenced my current art practice. Some examples are Lee Ming Wei, Adad Hannah, Keith Haring, David Wojnarowicz and Carrie Mae Weems. Their works revolve around interaction, connection and human labor/ body. These artists explore concepts of identity and where they are from, assisting me in my journey to understand who I am and where I am from. In doing so, I wanted to help educate others about my own learning and encourage them to keep their own tradition and culture alive.
The University of Waterloo acknowledges that much of our work takes place on the traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishinaabeg and Haudenosaunee peoples. Our main campus is situated on the Haldimand Tract, the land granted to the Six Nations that includes six miles on each side of the Grand River. Our active work toward reconciliation takes place across our campuses through research, learning, teaching, and community building, and is centralized within our Office of Indigenous Relations.