“Like, Comment, Subscribe” by Vy Nguyen (2019)
Artist Bio: An undergraduate at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst, Vy Nguyen explores the female experience through digital media. Nguyen is recognized for her Maya rendered animations. In 2018, her work using dynamics to address intimacy and consent was featured in Bricolage Dynamics at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst’s Screen@SAB. During the Spring semester of 2019, Nguyen showed Combo, an animation concerning commodity of the female form online in Virtual Bodies / Post-Photographic Unreal. Following consecutively, she presented Gem, a short animation about female pleasure, in FRAME2019, the Department of Art’s first annual juried undergraduate student moving image show.
FMA: Tell us about yourself, your project and why you decided to pursue it?
VN: As a child, I found it really difficult to find role models that looked like me because of my Asian descent. Asian people were not portrayed much in American media. Even today, Asian people still struggle to get representation in media. In films and television, Asian people are cast to be either a nerdy side character or a martial arts expert who barely speaks English. “All Asians look the same.” This racist ideation created a code for how Asian people were to be perceived, particularly Asian women. The stereotype for Asian women is narrow. Like, Comment, Subscribe explores the model of Asian women through Instagram. The “Complete Untitled Film Stills” by Cindy Sherman inspired this project. In my series of photographs, I play the role of the Instagram Influencer to subvert the stereotypes of Asian women in media.
FMA: Looking back over your four years of study, how has your artistic process evolved? What are your favorite mediums to work in?
VN: Prior to attending UMass, the process of creating was very appealing to me. I didn’t have much in mind while making drawings, or paintings, or ceramic vessels. It was the tactility that was pleasant. However, studying art and art history made me realize that the elements and principles of art could be used to create meaning. My four years of study allowed me to visually express concepts instead of just creating things. I prefer to work in digital mediums now, the time I save from not cleaning a studio lets me work conceptually.
FMA: Imagine you are a fully funded artist with no creative or financial restrictions. What types of projects would you be interested in exploring and pursuing?
VN: I would like to engage more people with my art and help to cultivate community. If I was free of creative and financial restrictions, the scale and scope of my work would be much larger. Maybe something like Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirror Room but instead of sculptures the immersive environment is created by animated projections. And it would be portable so people around the world could interact with the space. Or perhaps something like Cao Fei’s “RMB City” because the internet is not supposed to be confined by geographical location.
FMA: Who are some of your influences, and what motivates you to create art?
VN: Some of my artistic influences are listed above, but the people who have the most impact on my ways of thinking would be David Chang, Eddie Huang, and my family. They have all found ways to create connections, challenge societal problems, and make some great food. I believe art is a way for me to help amplify voices. This belief that change can be brought by art is really powerful.
FMA: Thank you VY for sharing your work and perspective with us!