Artist: Tony Nguyen
Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Dr. Maxine Merlino Gallery
About the Artist
Tony Nguyen is a student at the California State University of Long Beach. He has been a student there for five and a half years, and is currently in his last semester at the school. Tony was originally a illustration major, but after a teacher told him he needed to put more time into it, he decided to switch to something else. Tony, and undergraduate student, is now working on his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in the 3D Media program. When he first got into 3D media, he fell in love with it. He said that once he figured out the rules and regulations of how to make the metal, he was able to modify it and create something unique to himself. Tony is one hundred percent Vietnamese, and you can see in the art how much that influences him.
In the gallery, you can see a lot of works made out of metal. There are a total of 15 separate pieces of work throughout the gallery. Some examples of the works are a dispenser type machine, a samurai mask, rings, gloves, and a crown. All of them are made of some type of metal, and Tony explains that each piece can take from 4 to 6 weeks to make. All of the pieces are numbered with little golden plates as well. Most of the pieces are different colors, and not one is exactly the same. Each little piece is very detailed, and that is very evident in the little figurines that he made. At first glance, there seems to be no real theme to the gallery, just a lot of metal that is very appealing to look at.
Neoteny, the name of his gallery, is when an individual maintains juvenile behaviors into adulthood. This resonates with who Tony is, and what his gallery represents. All of his pieces are like him bringing a piece of his childhood into his adult life. The goal of this gallery was to create a sense of nostalgia for viewers as they journey through with Tony through his favorite childhood stories and experiences. For example, a lot of his works are modeled after an old childhood story he heard. That story is about a monkey king named Sun Wukong. The Vietnamese culture is instilled with Chinese culture, so growing up he was able to stories like this one. The gloves, crown, and a necklace in the gallery are based off of this Sun Wukong. He also uses his family culture and stories to make his art as well, evident by his family bridge.
I think that this was my favorite gallery I have been to so far. All of the metal works were really cool to look at and it was awesome how each and every piece had a backstory to it. My favorite part of this gallery was definitely all of the Sun Wukong related stuff. Although I did not grow up talking about Chinese stories like that, I know of Sun Wukong through something else. My favorite show ever, Dragon Ball Z, was influenced by the story of Sun Wukong. Walking into the gallery and seeing all of that art really brought me back down memory lane to my own childhood. I think that it is awesome how Tony still keeps his childhood with him even as an adult. Talking to him and seeing his gallery just really stuck with me. It made me realize that wherever you are in life, your childhood will always be with you. As I continue to move on in life, I won’t forget about those times and they will continue to influence who I am, as they have done to Tony.