Reframing the Fragments: The Best We Could Do

Dinh Q. Lê (Vietnamese-American, born 1968). Mai Lai in Additive and the Subtractive Colors, 2013. C-prints and linen tape, 78 3/4 x 49 3/4 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Elizabeth Leach Gallery; Collection of Kimberly Moyer.

Reframing the Fragments: The Best We Could Do

September 08, 2018 to February 17, 2019

Common Reading at UO is a year of conversation around a shared book. For 2018, all first-year students will receive The Best We Could Do, an illustrated memoir about one family’s journey from their war-torn home in Vietnam to a new life in California. Author Thi Bui relates her personal experience of becoming a first-time mother and wanting to learn who her parents were before they were parents, and how they survived war, loss, separation, and frequent displacement.

To complement this initiative and expand on themes in the graphic novel, the JSMA presents its third annual Common Seeing, Reframing the Fragments: The Best We Could Do. Works made since 2000 by such artists from the Vietnamese diaspora as Binh Danh, Dinh Q. Le, and Ann Le embody the complex sensations related to remembering and forgetting, tradition and innovation, and trying to make sense of fragments of memory and history. Their new visions emerge from the long shadows of the Vietnam War. Works in the JSMA’s collection from the 1960s by American artists, including Violet Ray, invite viewers to analyze how artists from different places and times comment critically on the war and American culture. Reframing the Fragments will also incorporate personal stories shared by UO students in response to the artworks on view. The exhibition is supported by the Ballinger Endowment.