[foto] Some 100 20th-century works at Vittoriano complex (ANSA) – Rome, July 4 – A new exhibition at Rome’s Vittoriano complex spotlights one of the rising stars of the world art scene – Vietnam .

The show, entitled the Dragon and the Butterfly, features around 100 paintings that give visitors a view of the Oriental nation’s art in the 20th century and the latest trends .

The event, which runs until July 16, is the highlight of a Festival of Vietnamese Culture organized by the Province of Rome as part of its wide-ranging Spring Festival .

“Rome is acting as a door to apparently distant artistic delights, which globalization is turning into new forms of expression that are increasingly accessible to other cultures,” explained Province of Rome Culture Councillor Vincenzo Vita .

“The provincial government has an international outlook. It is increasingly looking to the Orient and offering itself as an anchor (in Europe) for these new, explosive cultural phenomena”. Vietnamese painting kicked off in earnest in the first half of the 20th century, when the French colonial rulers founded the Fine Arts College of Indochina (FACI). Since then the nation’s art has been under the influence of the former colonial power, as well as to its northern neighbour China. But experts stress that Vietnamese art has managed to emerge from shadows of these cultures, especially in recent decades, to forge an unmistakable national identity. In doing so it has also released creative impulses repressed by centuries of foreign domination, they say .

Works by Vietnamese painters are now highly sought after on international markets, especially in France .

The exhibition opens with a range of traditional-style lacquer paintings, which artists in the 1950s used to tell the story of the war of independence from France. There are also the beautifully simple works of Nguyen Thanh Binh, perhaps Vietnam’s most popular artist, and hyperrealist paintings by Do Quang Em. The exhibition features some video installations too, as well as a series of traditional costumes of the country’s 57 different ethnicities .

The curator of the show is Truong Quoc Binh, the director of the Hanoi National Fine Arts Museum, which lent many of the pieces on display. “We Vietnamese consider Italy to be very close to us,” said Quoc Binh. “We love its art and other aspects of its culture – in soccer we cheer on the Azzurri”. The Festival of Vietnamese Culture also includes the screening of a selection of Vietnamese movies, conferences on development projects and tourism in the eastern country and a culinary bonanza at Rome’s Citta’ del Gusto (City of Taste) .

There will also be a photography exhibition entitled Images of Vietnam .

© Copyright ANSA. All rights reserved 2006-07-04 10:20

Uniquely American

July 5, 2006

Three daughters in an immigrant family were each born on July 4

The Wichita Eagle

Michelle Doan, left, and her sister Julia, right, were born July 4, as was their sister Jenny. Their father came to the United States in 1975, their mother five years later.

Jeff Tuttle/The Wichita Eagle

Michelle Doan, left, and her sister Julia, right, were born July 4, as was their sister Jenny. Their father came to the United States in 1975, their mother five years later.

Most people get candles and a birthday cake if they’re lucky.

“We get fireworks,” says Michelle Doan, who was born on the Fourth of July, along with two of her sisters. “Not everyone gets that on their birthday.”

Michelle, 18, Jenny, 20, and Julia, 13, live in Wichita in a traditional Vietnamese household of nine children, whose ages range from 10 to 31.

Being the daughter of immigrants while having her birthday fall on an unmistakably American holiday has left Michelle torn between her Vietnamese roots and her American upbringing.

“The older siblings are a little more Vietnamese. They know the traditional dances and things like that,” she says. “We (younger siblings) are a little more American.”

The older Doan clan — Tim, 31, Tram, 25, Viet, 24, Nam, 22, and Amy, 21 — have retained more of the Vietnamese culture and language than their younger siblings, Michelle says.

She, Jenny, Julia and 10-year-old David struggle more with the language, she says.

“I’ve always wanted to visit Vietnam, but I’m scared because I don’t know the culture and might do or say something wrong,” she says.

Their father, Luan Doan , 64, flew from Vietnam to Kansas in 1975 after the communist government’s rise to power. His wife, Sau Truong, 50, joined him five years later.

Luan says it was hard to be away from his family because he had lost contact with his parents and eight brothers and sisters after enlisting in the Vietnamese army.

“When I left, I didn’t have time to say goodbye to my family,” he said in Vietnamese, with Michelle translating. He also speaks English.

Luan has since regained contact with his family in Vietnam and phones them at least twice a month.

He says the United States was a place to find the freedom that the Vietnamese government didn’t allow.

“Freedom, a lot of people come to the United States for freedom,” he says.

For the Doan family, that freedom includes celebrating American holidays with Vietnamese flair. Thanksgiving dinner means not only turkey, but rice and pho — noodle soup.

But when it comes to parenting, tradition still reigns supreme in the Doan household, Michelle says.

“They’re pretty strict,” she says. “To them, it’s God first, then education, then relationships. They don’t want us to get married until we’re 35.”


July 5, 2006