Opening Reception: Friday, June 10 from 7pm to 9pm
“Like many other American immigrants, I find myself weaving between two worlds. My goal is to explain that feeling− the oddness, occasional loneliness, and hope − through my art and through beauty.”
In his lesser-known body of work, Know Place, Khanh H. Lê manipulates photographs of the Vietnamese countryside to explore the relationship between place and identity and the immigrant experience of feeling one does not have a home.
Growing up, Lê remembers cringing when his history teachers covered the Vietnam War. He did not relate to the country his teachers described, a place seemingly frozen in the past. Life there had changed profoundly since he and his family fled and the longer he lived in the United States, the more detached he felt.
In an effort to reconnect with his country of origin, Lê enlisted his cousin to send him photographs of Vietnam. He reconfigured these photographs to compose landscapes that do not actually exist. The resulting panoramas communicate a strong sense of place even though they are “know place”. They force us to consider that perhaps a sense of place is less about the characteristics of a location and more about our perception of that location.
If we accept that identity is tied to our perception rather than an actual location, our definition of identity becomes less objective. As a result, we realize that we can learn more about Lê from these artificial images than from real images of his home country.
This series is one of Lê’s first major bodies of work. It showcases his early experimentation with printmaking and reveals his vulnerability during a pivotal time in his growth as an artist. By developing this series, Lê was able to feel more grounded in his “hybrid” identity as a Vietnamese-American. Today he hopes these works will bring comfort to other immigrants feeling they are in-between.
Lê graduated with an MFA from Syracuse University in 2008. His work has been exhibited at the Hunterdon Art Museum (Clinton, New Jersey), Corcoran Gallery of Art, Vox Populi, Honfleur Gallery, DC Arts Center, Hillyer Art Space , Transformer, and Arlington Arts Center. The DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities awarded Le the Artist Fellowship for the Visual Arts in 2011 and 2015. Le continues to live and work in Washington, DC.
Centerfold Artist Studio is located at 703 Edgewood St. NE. Suite #2.