THROUGH OUR EYES

EXHIBITION STATEMENT
GROUP PIECE STATEMENT

Kim Montalvo, Fatima Gutierrez, Vianna Nguyen, Clara Grams, & David Wishtishcin

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statement

The Through Our Eyes exhibition serves the purpose of examining the Vietnam War from perspectives previously unthought of and unaddressed, done through the eyes of five twenty-first century teenagers. Our exhibition explores the twisted and manipulative perspective of the American government paired with that of the average American citizen watching the first ever televised war. We explore the Vietnamese landscape and how it fell prey to the brutalities their people suffered from, shining light on the damage done not only to the people of Vietnam, but to the actual nation itself. We follow the American anti-war protestor who also felt the rumbles of the Civil Rights Movement pushing them forward, and that of an American child growing up in the time when the first war-for-TV was occurring halfway across the world. As a collective, our group piece takes a moment to unpack the perspective of Vietnamese prisoners of war, their struggles, their silence, and the crushing weight and volume of it all.

We, as students with access to our history made readily available at our fingertips, felt it was urgent to demand that all sides of the story are told for a point of history that has only ever seen one perspective be prioritised. It is a privilege to be able to be here in today’s time and to know what we know now with all the facts coming out. In creating art that explores all these different ways of perceiving and experiencing the war and its aftermath, we make it a pressing point to utilise this privilege to spread an important message. Art has historically been and will always be a tool for education and awareness, and it is our goal to educate and make others aware of just how this war remains in the various communities it touched, to prevent a similar kind of history from repeating itself, and to take these lessons and valuable information with us moving forward.

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through the eyes of the american government

Vianna Nguyen, Propaganda, 2021. Digital collage.

This is a propaganda poster, made up of bright, vibrant colors to draw in the eyes of the viewer, emphasized by the funky distortion of the bold letters. The hope is to get citizens to buy the flashy necklace they see, believing that they are supporting their nation and helping them end the war. As the fine print on the bottom highlights, they are instead contributing to the senseless massacre. The fine print highlights that many will overlook the truth and choose to believe that they are helping people.

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Vianna Nguyen, Mask, 2021. Twisted and manipulated wire & chains with handpainted/vintage charms.

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through the eyes of the american family

Fatima Gutierrez, Televised Truth, 2021. 12x15in. Acrylic paint.

It was in this revolutionary moment that Americans realized this was a war not worth fighting. All across the nation people realized the government had fed the people lies. The war was brought to us in a clear and horrific light as it was broadcasted on national television. This allowed Americans to question the information being given to them by their government.

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through the eyes of the american family

Fatima Gutierrez, CNN Tonight!, 2021. 9x12in. Watercolor and masking tape.

This piece is based on real footage that was presented to the American people concerning the truths behind the Vietnam War. This is the first time that an American war has ever been broadcasted on television and open to public viewers. I used masking tape to create their blindfolds to represent the fact that they have no idea what is going to happen to them. May we learn from this, so we are never masked from the truth again and we are aware of the real things we are fighting for.

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through the eyes of the american Child

David Wishtishcin, Secret Agent Orange, 2021. Acrylic paint on magazine paper.

I wanted to show a child’s perspective of the war. To do so, I held a small interview with my aunt and asked her questions regarding what it was like to be a child during the Vietnam War. After hearing her perspective and stories, it was quite simple to find inspiration for the piece. From here, I defaced antique magazines with questions/ideas relating to the stories I was told from my aunt, involving the radio, politics, and more.

The front of this piece represents the memory of overhearing parents discuss the use of Agent Orange in Vietnam. The back of this piece is in response to the baseball comic on this page. Back then, the child recalls hearing her father claim that American sports were a distraction from the war and government. Overall this piece collects and depicts the memories associated with overhearing parents discussing the politics of the Vietnam War.

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through the eyes of the american Child

David Wishtishcin, Vietnow, 2021. Acrylic paint on magazine paper.

Inspired by both a song and a memory, this piece encompasses the emotion and memory of the power of radios during the war. Radios during this time were used for broadcasting about the war, politics, and more. Many people at the time relied on the radio for entertainment. The song that helped inspire this piece was titled “Vietnow”. Played by Rage Against The Machine, this song captures the idea of not listening to the radio and the media, because of it’s appropriation of the war. The act of broadcasting death and destruction hits the hearts of many, the overall goal was to capture this hard hitting act.

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through the eyes of the american protester

Kim Montalvo, From His Eyes Only, 2021. Collaged GIF image.

This artwork is a play on our exhibition’s name featuring Black Panther founder and former Chicago 8 member Bobby Seale, who fought tirelessly for civil rights and antiwar activism throughout his lifetime. The animated image shows protests against the Vietnam War that occurred while the war was happening. He was at the forefront as the regarded leader and inspiration for movements regarding social change. The Chicago 8, known now as the Chicago 7, were a group of antiwar activist who were charged by the United States federal government with conspiracy related to anti-Vietnam war and counterculture protest in Chicago Illinois. All members were charged and acquitted, but later had the convictions reversed on appeal.

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through the eyes of the american protester

Kim Montalvo, Talk About It, 2021. Digital painting.

“We have to talk about what's happening in Vietnam as being a symptom of something that's happening all over the world, of something that's happening in this country. And in order for the anti-war movement to be effective, it has to link up with the struggle for black and brown liberation in this country with the struggle of exploited white workers.”

This piece features Civil Rights and social justice activist Angela Davis superimposed upon a quote from her speech regarding the Vietnam War. Davis was known at her peak to be a radical activist who was staunchly against all forms of systemic and systematic oppression domestically and abroad. This artwork pays homage to the 70s by outlining her figure in retro colors, warping a quote from one of her famous antiwar speeches behind her.

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through the eyes of the american protester

Kim Montalvo, No More War / For Vietnam, 2021. Acrostic poem and digital collage.

This piece is a 21st century commentary on the aftermath of the war and how the United States education system in particular handles the atrocities. It has the Vietnamese flag superimposed upon it with a photo from the 1972 Napalm bombing as the background. Activists of the time saw everything as it was unfolding, and so the strong “NO MORE WAR” sentiment holds historical weight as well.

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through the eyes of vietnam

The purpose of this piece within the exhibition is to show the environmental destruction that the army of the United States inflicted on Vietnam. The Viet Cong soldiers’ knowledge of the landscape gave them an advantage against the US, and so the US decided to start bombing, burning, and mechanically destroying the Vietnamese jungle. This mass deforestation had devastating impacts on wildlife, and on the people of Vietnam.

Clara Grams, Untitled, 2021. 2'8.x4in. Acrylic paint on fabric.

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The composition of this piece was inspired by before and after photographs of a forest that was nearly completely destroyed by the war. The video recording shows the passage of time during the war. As the war goes on the piece gets more and more destroyed.

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CONTENT WARNING

Before clicking onto the next piece, we warn that there will be (fake) blood, bruises, and an overall depiction of graphic content.

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through the eyes of the vietnamese prisoner of war

Kim Montalvo, Fatima Gutierrez, Clara Grams, Vianna Nguyen & David Wishtishcin, Prisoner, 2021. 8x6x7in. Acrylic paint on clay sculpture attached to concrete slab. Front view, back view.

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through the eyes of the vietnamese prisoner of war

Kim Montalvo, Fatima Gutierrez, Clara Grams, Vianna Nguyen & David Wishtishcin, Prisoner, 2021. 8x6x7in. Acrylic paint on clay sculpture attached to concrete slab. Left side view, right side view.

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through the eyes of the vietnamese prisoner of war

For our group piece, the sculpture itself, sculpted by Kim, represents the strain of war and the toll it takes on the body. The collaborative efforts of Clara and Fatima saw them painting the sculpture. Clara provided the skin tones and Fatima provided the colorful aspects as well as the bruising, blood, and wounds on the Vietnamese victim. This is further elaborated upon by the disjointedness of the slab and the slab itself, made by David, representing the trauma response in Vietnam. Vianna's shackle necklace serves as a tool to relay suffocation felt by the Vietnamese, killing them in the end. Finally, Clara's tattered blindfold is a stand-in for the confusion and chaos of war, how nothing is clear or promised as the prisoner cannot see the future ahead of them nor the world around them as it stands. As a whole, when talking about this piece, we are talking strictly from an undervalued and under-addressed perspective. Trauma remains stored in the body, the mind, and the family, and ricochets throughout generations. Take this exhibition as your chance to remember that something did happen, and it is still happening today.

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