Professional Studies and Fine Arts

Professional Studies and Fine Arts

School of Art and Design Presents Online Exhibition, "Upon Closer Inspection"

The exhibition highlights works from three female artists who explore their personal identity and lived experiences related to heritage and migration.

School of Art and Design Presents Online Exhibition,

No. 15 (Genetics) by Claire A. Warden (left), T. Kim-Trang Tran by Phung Huynh (center), and Body Vernacular #6 by Adama Delphine Fawundu (right).

by Aleah Jarin

​December 10, 2020

San Diego State University’s School of Art and Design showcases their second online exhibition, Upon Closer Inspection, featuring works from artists Phung Huynh, Adama Delphine Fawundu, and Claire A. Warden. The artists come from different backgrounds and use their personal identity and experiences to create art that reflects their unique perspectives on heritage and migration.

The virtual exhibition will be available for public viewing on KunstMatrix, a virtual exhibition platform starting Dec. 10, 2020, and will close March 31, 2021.

SDSU’s Galleries and Exhibitions Coordinator, Chantel Paul, said in choosing the artists for the exhibition, she was “intrigued by how Fawundu, Huynh and Warden use their practice to convey such deep elements of their lived experiences and relationship with identity, heritage, and our country.”

Phung Huynh, a Vietnamese refugee, said her upbringing and experience as a refugee is the foundation for her artwork.

“My background is heavily predicated on this idea of being a refugee…we had to leave our homeland, not because we wanted to but because we had to because of war, violence, and genocide,” Huynh said. “That has impacted the rest of my life.”

Huynh said that when her family came to the U.S., they went through difficult experiences of cultural assimilation as they tried to remake their lives in the United States. These experiences also play a role in Huynh’s art and make up the many layers in her work.

“You can see this fusion and navigation between western and Southeast Asian ways of looking at art,” Huynh said. “A lot of people look at my art and think, oh it’s well rendered and there’s a level of skill and craft…but when you dig deeper, the topics are pretty intense and there’s more to it.”

Adama Delphine Fawundu’s Mende heritage from Sierra Leone, located in West Africa, is heavily apparent in her art. Her work includes layering elements, fabric patterns created by her grandmother, and overall, seeks to explore the complexities of identity within the African diaspora.

“I’m really interested in my personal identity and also the larger identity of the diversity when we think about Black people in the diaspora,” Fawundu said. “I like to use myself in all of my work as a representation of human beings, and that’s a statement in itself.”

Fawundu said she makes art so people can ask questions, and hopes that they will lead to explorations and ideas, and allow people to learn something new.

“I don’t want to control how people see the work, but if people could feel the art and have it prompt them to ask a question about something like ‘What is Mende culture?’ or anything that allows someone to expand their idea of humanity, then that’s a good thing,” Fawundu said.

Claire A. Warden’s photographic work is influenced by her personal as well as collective experiences as a person of color in the U.S. With an ethnically diverse background, and since immigrating to the states, Warden has frequently been asked “What are you?” The question has inspired her to illustrate her experiences in her work rather than display her physical likeness.

“I use two unique processes on black and white negative film; one that degrades the film over time using saliva, leaving behind only biologic matter, and metallic silver,” Warden said.

“I view these pieces as a kind of portrait – one that does not show you what I look like but one that is built from my DNA and shaped by my experiences.”

Warden said sometimes the stories in her work can feel familiar to viewers while some are shocked by her art, depending on one’s life experiences.

However, regardless of the viewers’ interpretation, Warden said she hopes “the work will ignite or continue a dialogue about experiences had by people of color in the United States.”

For more information on Huynh and her work, visit her website at phunghuynh.com. See Fawundu’s works on her website at delphinefawundu.com and more information on Warden can be found at claireawarden.com.

Anyone with the link will be able to view this curated exhibition when it goes live on Dec. 10. Access the link here. Click here for more information about the SDSU School of Art and Design.

The content within this article has been edited by Lizbeth Persons.

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