UYEN-THI NGUYEN

FINE ART GALLERY

Portrait of a City -

A GARDEN OF PEOPLE: A PORTRAIT OF COTTAGE GROVE

I am currently completing a project consisting of a solo exhibit that showcases the paintings from my upcoming art book and of course art book itself entitled, "A Garden of People: A Portrait of Cottage Grove." The main theme of the project is an artist's perspective on society, using Cottage Grove, Oregon as the basis for exploration. It will showcase oil portraits and a few landscapes for context, and be intermingled with quotes from conversations with the subjects. The exhibit and art book is designed to be experiential, allowing viewers to formulate their own views of society through words and experiences of the subjects, and through expression of the art. In this time of extreme divisiveness and polarity, this project explores humanity in a way I hope will bring people closer together.

Using census data as a guide, I'm considering gender, age, household income and employment figures, and working with city residents to paint these represented ratios. Collectively, the portraits will show a rough microcosm of the larger dataset. By juxtaposing demographics data, text displaying some of the subjects’ transcribed thoughts, and the residents in their own unique element, the art book is a layered look at people – together, yet individual – deconstructed, so that visitors can experience how they themselves perceive, judge, or relate to the subjects.

"There was always custody issues. They were always fighting with each other and I was like, why can't you guys just be nice to each other, for us, you know? Why can't you put your children above your hate for the other person. I mean you had a child, you had two children with that person. You apparently loved them enough at one point to be with, you know. Just be nice. You don't have to like them."

Each portrait is painted to express what truths they have to share at that moment – to tell a touch of their story, of themselves and what they see.

"I always hated judgmental Christians, is where I first saw such judgmental people who were professing, like hypocritically judgmental. And then, over time I just judged them so harshly, I judged Trumpers so harshly. I judged the judgers."

The portrait of this small, American city is itself a microcosm. There is a bit of everyone in each of us, and at the same time, there is no one like us in all the world. Perhaps in looking at this “portrait” of a city, of folks living together, people from different socioeconomic classes, different beliefs, and viewpoints, we can discover some beautiful secrets about society and humanity, and amazingly, ourselves.

"A Garden of People: A Portrait of Cottage Grove" will launch with a Kickstarter at the end of April for the art book, exhibit this June at Galleria at the Smith in downtown Eugene, and in Cottage Grove in August. To read more about this project, visit The Sentinel, The Chronicle and, Free For All News for some great articles and to see how the project has evolved over time. For upcoming dates and the latest info, subscribe to my newsletter! Thank you for your support.

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