A Village Before Us: Contemporary Vietnamese Artists

Opening: Friday, Nov 10, 2023 5:30 – 7:30 pm
Friday, Nov 10 – Dec 31, 2023

114 W. Kinzie
Chicago, IL 60654

The John David Mooney Foundation is proud to present A VILLAGE BEFORE US, a group exhibition that brings together nine diverse contemporary Vietnamese artists and scholars currently based in Chicago. The exhibition is shown concurrently with, and is a response to, the Albert Goodman collection of Vietnamese post-war art presently on view at the International Currents Gallery at the Foundation. By paralleling these two exhibits, A VILLAGE BEFORE US makes the Vietnamese art scene present, fosters community among the participating artists, and cultivates engagement from both Vietnamese and non-Vietnamese communities in Chicago. 

The genesis of A VILLAGE BEFORE US can be traced back to a serendipitous conversation during a visit to Albert Goodman’s collection which features the works of the first generation of Vietnamese modern artists, who studied at the national colonial-era art school, The Ecole des Beaux-Arts de l’Indochine. These masterpieces were collected by the late Bruce Blowitz, an American who traveled to Vietnam in the mid-1990s, after its decades-long economic embargo. It was during his time in Vietnam that Blowitz met Dr. Nora Annesley Taylor, now Professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, at the home and studio of artist Vu Dan Tan, who ran one of Hanoi’s first independent art spaces. The importance of Chicago as a crossroad is solidified when, after his death in 2015, Blowitz left his collection in the care of his good friend, Chicago philanthropist Albert Goodman. 

Coming from diverse backgrounds and points of origin across the world, the participating artists in A VILLAGE BEFORE US found themselves in Chicago for various reasons, from pursuing education and research to seeking work opportunities. Through their individual connection to Dr. Nora Annesley Taylor, these artists formed a community of friends and contemporaries, mirroring the experiences of the artists within Albert Goodman’s collection who shared similar educational and artistic backgrounds. Hence, the title of the exhibition, A VILLAGE BEFORE US. This title embodies the fundamental aspects of Vietnamese culture and the art world. 'A VILLAGE' is an extended unit formed of nucleus connections, while ‘BEFORE’ acknowledges the legacy of its past and stands in anticipation of its future trajectory. ‘US’, a plural pronoun, intimately refers to the group’s collective identity while also playing with the moniker of the group’s current home. 

A VILLAGE BEFORE US will feature a remarkable group of artists currently working in Chicago, including Le Hien-Minh, Do Quy, Nguyen Maya, Vo Thuy-Tien and the collective [[Rehearsal]], Ngo Hua Minh Tri, Nguyen Trang, Do Minh-Giang (Jent), as well as art historians Phan Quang Nguyen Justin and Nora Annesley Taylor

The exhibition will run from November 10th to December 31st, 2023, at the John David Mooney Foundation, located at 114 W Kinzie Street, Chicago, IL. The gallery will be open Tuesday through Friday, from 11am to 6pm.