Saturday, February 6, 2021

Upon Closer Inspection with Adama Delphine Fawundu, Phung Huynh, and Claire A. Warden

 By Patricia Frischer

I joined into a virtual exhibition walk-through of Upon Closer Inspection Virtual Exhibition Tour with Adama Delphine Fawundu, Phung Huynh, and Claire A. Warden. Each artist talked about the selection of artwork included in the exhibition, followed by a conversation with Galleries and Exhibitions Coordinator, Chantel Paul and a Q&A with the audience presented by University Art Gallery in the School of Art and Design at San Diego State University.

Dec 10 to March 31st with a virtual exhibition and an online catalog.
For more information about the exhibition or events, please email:
Watch the archived discussion (with captions)

There is no doubt that Chantal Paul had a vision of how all three of these diverse artists could relate and she is the one that gets credit for putting them together. Because this zoom discussion was so frank and they were so generous and articulate with their thoughts, it has not only enriched my view of their work, but exposed me to so much more about multi-cultural ways of seeing. Now they are all friends and it was a joy to watch them bond.

Although at first glance these are very different women, they share so many aspects of their personal lives and their art making goals. For all of them family is central and they all have a multi-cultural experience of colonialism. They are all exploring aspects of identity. All their works are layered, with explorations of language and multi-faceted mediums. They are fearless and break rules and are “de-colonizing” their minds.

All three see W.E.B. Du Bois statement pertinent i.e. Looking at yourself through the eyes of other as well as your own eyes.

These ladies are looking to see themselves reflected in the American society and if that view is not there, they will create that vision themselves.

Adama Delphine Fawundu was born and lives in Brooklyn with a heritage of Sierra Leon with memories of her grandmother working with fabrics. She has become a shape shifter, covering and uncovering but always with a respect for heritage as she travels as a being in-between. She searches and finds the sweet spot where she can define herself using her own likeness as a universal symbol. She is proud to break the chains and not carry the political burden of oppression. 

Adama Delphine Fawundu, Passageways #3, Secrets, Traditions, Spoken and Unspoken Truths or Not, 2017; archival pigment print in cotton fiber paper; 30 x 20 inches; courtesy of the artist

Adama Delphine Fawundu, Body Vernacular #6, 2017; archival pigment print in cotton fiber paper; 30 x 20 inches; courtesy of the artist

Phung Huynh grew up mostly in LA from a Cambodian heritage where she managed to develop both a cultural resistance and resilience. From a society with bound feet, she tries to give women back their power while finding visions of her own self reflection among the everyday objects of America. A set of cross stitched license plates bear the names she knows and the faces she admires fill the lids of pink donut shop boxes. These include Mr. Roberts with his idea of a welcoming neighborhood and the lovely donut shop princess who continued a franchise of donut shops that employ Cambodian immigrants.  

Phung Huynh, 2019 – 2020; graphite on pink donut box; 25 x 30 ½ inches; courtesy of the artist

Phung Huynh,2019-2020; embroidery thread on cotton (cross-stitch); 10 x 13 ¼ inches; courtesy of the artist

Claire A. Warden is multi-lingual with a father from India and English mother. She had to translate from French when first arriving from Montreal.  When confronted by the question, What are you?” it took some time to learn that meant how do you identity? For example a make-up consultant at a department store asked if she was Indian. She pointed out that other Indians she had met also had dark circles under their eyes. She proceeded to treat these as imperfections that needed to be covered up. Warden struggled with who gets to ask these questions? Which questions does she want to answer? Which are inappropriate? She uses no human images in her work but they do contain her DNA in the form of saliva as part of the mark making which leaves silver tracing from her photo process. She has an acute awareness of being seen and that informed the works at every stage. Dark circles abound and are glorified.  

Claire A. Warden, No. 15 (Genetics), 2016; Piezography pigment print; 36 x 28 inches; courtesy of the artist

Claire A. Warden, No. 42 (Emphasis), 2016; Piezography pigment print; 36 x 60 inches; courtesy of the artist

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